Category Archives: news

Nature For Everybody

Two visitors dropped b to enjoy the fall colors together and discovered: The Freedom Chair, a self-propelled trail chair based on bicycle technology. It’s available to borrow for use on the All Persons Trail at Broadmoor thanks to a donor who wants to make nature accessible for everyone. It can be pushed by a second person or propelled using the levers.

Trail improvements continue under the supervision of Terra Corps Land Stewardship Coordinator, Jonas Bruggemann and Property Manager Shane Parsons. They are returning from a volunteer work day with students from Walnut Hill School in Natick.

Want to help? Look for volunteer opportunities on Broadmoor’s website or email

Walnut Hill students together with Natick High students hosted a Town Hall about how the Green New Deal will address climate change last week. The energetic event focused on action. It was a pleasure to join a panel exploring how Mass Audubon, the state legislature, community organizations and activists can work together.

There are lots of ways to be involved. If you saw recent news about the dramatic decline in the number of birds in North America and Canada over the past 50 years – nearly 30% are gone – here’s a chance to be part of a long term project that tracks changes locally.

On Saturday, December 14, teams of birders will count individual birds in a 15-mile diameter circle centered in Millis. Broadmoor and Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuaries are located in the circle. This will be the 48th annual Millis Count, part of the 120th Annual Christmas Count that began in New York in 1900.

You can help. If you’d like to join a team of birders in the field, all levels of experience are welcome. If you live within the count circle, you can count your own backyard, your bird feeder, or organize friends in your neighborhood. Send a message to with your name, email and, if you want to know if you live within the circle, your street address. More eyes in the field give us better data. It’s a fun way to meet people who share your curiosity and interest in naure.

Focus on Fall

The most beautiful season at Broadmoor features amazing scenes around every turn in the trail. The colors of maples, berries on American holly and ferns turning golden are vibrant around the wetlands

Trail improvements will make your visit be even more enjoyable, focused on nature and less on rocks and roots in your path.

The Glacial Hill – Indian Brook Trail reroute was celebrated on a crisp Saturday morning with volunteers, staff, and summer campers, who created the reroute this summer and fall posing in front of the new route entrance.

Summer campers got to pull the bow on the ribbon so we can reuse it for the next opening.

Working on the trail project is fun, skill-building, and creates results that make a visit to Broadmoor more enjoyable for everybody. The plants and animals that live on the sanctuary appreciate the changes too.

Want to help? We need funds for detail design, materials and equipment. To donate, go to

If hands-on work appeals, please email Broadmoor’s Terra Corps land stewardship coordinator, Jonas Bruggemann, will reply and connect you to some workday opportunities.


Join volunteers, summer campers, staff, and workshop participants to celebrate the opening of the Glacial Hill-Indian Brook Trail reroute.

Meet at 9:30 am for cider and donuts; then walk a half mile of Indian Brook Trail to the relocation. Talk with the people who actually did the work and cheer while they “cut the ribbon.”

Summer campers, counselors and staff

Access to the main bridge has been improved. Rocks and roots are gone. Geese and ducks are gathering in the brook and you might encounter a wooly bear caterpillar sauntering across.

trail to main bridge
Wooly bear

Experience the wonders of fall. It’s a beautiful time to be outdoors.

All Persons Trail Extension is Happening!

The trail to Broadmoor’s main bridge will be closed tomorrow for construction to extend the accessible trail. The trail will be under construction but passable with caution this weekend. Expect completion is Tuesday, October 1. Visitor services staffers can help you plan an alternate route this week.

Professional trail builders, Broadmoor staff, and volunteers confer on regrading the approach to the main bridge.

The current layout of the trail is too steep and can be icy in winter.

Some of the work requires rock cribbing. Large rocks are moved into place using a micro-excavator and buried deeply to hold the trail surface in place.

This summer, campers in Trail Blazers and Explorers helped build the Indian Brook to Glacial Hill relocation to bypass steep eroding slopes.

The grand opening of the trail will be Saturday October 5. Join us at the nature center pavilion at 9:30 am for cider and donuts; then walk the half mile out to the relocation and help us cut the ribbon.

The goal for our campaign is $420,000. We have raised $344,899. Please make a donation to help us complete this ambitious project for visitors and for the wildlife we protect. To make a donation on-line, go to . Thank You!

Days Are Getting Shorter

There are lots of changes at Broadmoor starting with seasonal foliage. Fair Weather Birding this morning found downy woodpeckers perching on the gorgeous red leaves of poison ivy (Rhus radicans). Woodpeckers and many other birds relish the berries and will help spread this native plant, Both resident and migratory birds are fattening up on berries, seeds and insects.

Female downy woodpecker eating a poison ivy berry

Trail improvement work continues. The third workshop in a series of four, partially funded by Mass Trails, a Department of Conservation and Recreation education program, featured training in the basics of trail construction and management. Participants got to try tools including mattocks, McLeods, and rakes to remove built up berms that prevent water from draining off existing trails.

Trail Crew Leader Shane Parsons flagging berms to be removed on Glacial Hill Trail
Participants learn how to assess trail condition

Classroom and hands-on trail work helped participants understand the basics of trail creation and how to correct problems. The final workshop in the series, Planning for a New Sustainable Trail, will be Thursday, September 26. The workshop will explore trail layout and relocation in the field.

Another sign of seasonal change is turtle hatching. This baby snapping turtle emerged along with eleven siblings from a hole right next to the nature center and headed down to the marsh

For more details on Broadmoor’s Campaign for trail improvements go to .

Trails Re-imagined

Improvements for safety and comfort began last week across two wet areas of trail. The first spot is on Glacial Hill Trail where a seasonal stream makes crossing wet and muddy. The result is that visitors have widened the trail trying to avoid the mud, crushing and breaking plants and degrading the habitat.

How did the problem get solved? In a workshop for conservation managers and volunteers led by professional trail builder Peter Jensen, participants learned how to build a puncheon bridge.

Boards were brought to the site and sawed in the field. Sawdust was carefully collected on a tarp for removal.

Locust logs were placed and leveled as a base for the bridge.

A section of puncheon bridge near the mill sites was completed by the end of the week. This area of slippery rocks and seasonal stream flow was hazardous during high water.

Now, the bridge makes a safe and pleasant passage offering great views.

Trail Blazers

Branching Out at Broadmoor began when the nature center underwent a major renovation and addition, completed in 2013. Now we’re branching farther out onto the trails. Each week, this blog will feature updates on our work to improve all nine miles of trails. The campaign to fund the work has raised more than $331,000 toward our $420,000 goal, which includes endowment to maintain the trails far into the future. For details, on the campaign go to:

Dr. Lisa Standley explaining trail work during a workshop partially funded by Mass Trails entitled Planning and Design.

Mass Trails has partially funded four workshops for land managers, professionals and volunteers. The first workshop, this week, explored planning, design and permitting. For a description of the next workshop and to register, go to:

Summer campers in Trail Blazers and Explorers take a break from hands-on work on a trail reroute.

Summer campers in Broadmoor’s Explorers and Voyagers programs learned how to evaluate , plan and design trails, techniques for improving drainage and surfacing and got to help with a section of reroute. They had comments including: Where you place a trail gives a lot more accessibility and less maintenance, visitors shouldn’t have to correct trail problems, they should experience nature (safely and comfortably), and [the work] was hard and fun at the same time.

Property manager Shane Parsons, shows Stephen Rull and Bill Giezentanner his pole saw technique.

Trained trail team leaders will be working with individual and group volunteers starting in the fall. Look for opportunities in our volunteer listings on the Broadmoor homepage and posted in the nature center. Donations to the campaign and hands-on contributions will help improve and maintain our beautiful sanctuary for wildlife and for people.

Bird Week at Summer Camp

The three day camp week before the July 4 holiday was all about birds. Curiosity Club and Naturalists, our youngest campers, made a “safari” through the field to look at bird nestboxes. The female Eastern bluebird sitting atop nestbox #22 with a juicy green caterpillar, waited until campers were a safe distance away to feed her five young. This is the second brood for this bluebird pair this year.

Nestbox 22, female bluebird with caterpillar

Voyagers, our oldest campers, visited Waseeka Wildllife Sanctuary in Hopkinton, where an osprey pair were feeding three chicks.

Osprey with three young

Campers and counselors had great views through the telescope

Voyagers at Waseeka

Here is the bird list for the week.

Trail Improvements Have Started

Based on his 57-page assessment of Broadmoor’s nine miles of trails, trail builder Peter Jensen launched a relocation around muddy, wet spots and eroded steep sections on the Indian Brook Trail. A small stretch of trail relocation was begun as a training session for team leaders who will work with volunteers in the future.

Peter began the training by explaining pruning techniques.

In the field, staff and volunteers began by raking leaves, removing shrubs and small saplings from the route of the new trail. Leaves were stockpiled at the base of the trail slope as erosion control and a few hours later were redistributed onto the finished trail surface.

A section of trail was too steep for proper drainage, so a bench cut created a more gentle slope.

Roots and organic material were rolled up like carpet and stockpiled to re-vegetate the abandoned trail section.

It’s all about water drainage and once the slope was right, the trail was tamped down and the stockpiled leaves scattered over the surface. The new trail will look like it’s always been there in a few weeks.

Extreme weather events including rain, snow and wind, beaver activity, and the tens of thousands of annual visitors make it a necessity to thoughtfully adapt and manage our trails for the future.

There is a lot of work to be done to make the trails sustainable. While volunteers will do much of the work, materials and supplies and contracted work will cost money. The budget for improving all our trails is $420,000, which includes endowment for future maintenance. We have raised $331,000 and hope to raise the additional $89,000 by year end. To support this project, please go to our Trail Project website or come by the sanctuary to learn more.

National Trails Day Launch at Broadmoor

Last Saturday, Broadmoor launched a project to renovate, relocate and improve all nine miles of trails at the sanctuary. Events throughout the day introduced different audiences to some of the changes planned and ways to explore nature.

The All Persons Trail celebrated its 20th anniversary with demonstrations of the Freedom Chair, available to borrow at the nature center

In 1999 the first accessible trail and boardwalk was completed. In 2013 a section with an outlook over the field was added. In the first phase of the current project, the accessible trail will be extended to the main bridge.

The Freedom Chair was given by a generous donor to use on the accessible trail. It’s light light weight and designed for trails. Come and test it out!

The Children’s Nature Play area, called by one youngster – the log and boulder playground – was open with demonstrations of things kids can do.

Of course our young users didn’t need much guidance to have a good time.

Property manager Shane Parsons showed a muddy spot and planned reroute on the Marsh Trail. The project is based on a 57-page trail assessment done by Peter S. Jensen and Associates.

This is a big project with a $420,000 price tag. Over $320,000 has been raised. You can help us reach our goal and make the trails safer and more comfortable for people while protecting the nature visitors come to enjoy. Visit our webpage for more details and look for updates in this blog. Public workshops on trail design and construction will be offered and we will be looking for volunteers to help with building.