Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Community Blog

Tom Denney Nature Camp 2024 registration underway

It’s time to think summer! Ensure your children can be part of all the Tom Denney Nature Camp action! Campers enjoy getting out in nature, exploring, and learning new skills while bonding with friends and making new friends.

Tom Denney Nature Camp: Registration for Summer 2024 is now open! Register before April 1st and receive the Early Bird Discount! Here’s an overview of what to expect by age group:

Kindergarten – 5th grade: Games in the fields and woods. Swimming, Predator, and Prey (all-camp tag game), Amazing Race (physical & mental team challenges), arts & crafts, tracking, hiking, shelter building, campfires & more!

9 am – 3 pm (before and after care available)

6th -9th grades: Eco Adventures program with kayaking, laser tag, night camping & s’mores.

9 am – 3pm: (9 am – 10 pm on Thursdays for a night camping experience)

9th grade & above: Counselor-in-Training program (M-F 8:45 am – 3:15 pm)

Play games with campers and have fun with friends while gaining experience and volunteer/leadership hours. Involves an orientation and a minimum of two weeks of attendance.

For more info or to register for camp, see the Tom Denney Nature website: http://tdnc.boltonconservationtrust.org

Find TDNC on Facebook as well! https://www.facebook.com/TomDenneyNatureCamp

Discover Bolton: 2023 Summit Series Challenge

There are many ways to discover Bolton, Massachusetts. There is the apple and peach picking at local orchards, the wine tasting at Nashoba Valley Winery, the farms with produce, flowers, and cider donuts, the unique shops on Main Street, the great coffee and food at the Bolton Bean, or the fun, food, and music of Slater’s

However, we’ll start this ‘Discover Bolton’ series with a great way to explore the natural beauty of Bolton, and potentially ‘win’ a hat featuring seven summits and an apple tree. 

While the hat may be a draw, the goal of the 2023 Summit Series Challenge, sponsored by the Bolton Conservation Trust and organized by the Bolton Trails Committee, is to compel people to get out and enjoy the area. The summit challenge involves self-guided maps that will have you traversing the back trails of the town.

The Bolton Trails Committee has created an Official Guide that lists the summits and starting locations. Here’s how it works: “This challenge requires the participants to reach the summit of seven of our hills, starting at designated trailheads,” notes the website. “Those who participate in this challenge, and fill out the Official Form, can earn a limited-edition hat as a token of appreciation.”  To ensure the appreciation goes to all ages, the hats come in adult and youth sizes. 

To explain this challenge: Director of the Bolton Conservation Trust and Bolton Trails Committee volunteer Drew Schaubhut, who is also a Bolton resident. In this ‘Discover Bolton’ Q&A, Schaubhut has details about the summits and ‘pro tips’ to make the most of your experience:

Describe your position with the Bolton Trails Committee and the Bolton Conservation Trust and what got you involved?

A: I’m a volunteer and part of the Steering Committee for the Bolton Trails Committee, and recently as of 2023 have joined the Bolton Conservation Trust as a Director. I started helping out with the Bolton Trails Committee shortly after I moved to Bolton in 2015. I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and generally exploring new areas. Since I was using the trails in the town, I felt obligated to help by making them better. This includes planning and creating new trails in addition to maintaining (clearing and marking) the 45+ miles of trails in Bolton so others can enjoy them.

What motivated the Bolton Trails Committee to create this challenge?

A: We really just want more folks out enjoying their local trails. We wanted an achievable challenge that individuals or families could enjoy together.

Can you describe the highlights or interesting facts about each of the seven summits listed?

Wattaquadock Hill

A: Wattaquadock Hill is the highest point in Bolton. The true summit is on private land, but there is an old observation tower foundation with a USGS summit marker ON conservation land. See if you can find it.

Wattaquadock Hill is in the Welch Pond Conservation Area. Pictured: a beaver lodge. Photos courtesy: Bolton Trails Committee

North Peak 

A: North Peak is one of the highest points between Boston and Mt. Wachusett (in addition to Wattaquadock). This hike has the most elevation gain of any of the seven summits in the Summit Series Challenge. I’d recommended exploring the Vaughn Hills area, especially the trail directly to the east of the North Peak parallel to Bare Hill Road, and of course the beaver pond located just south of North Peak. You can probably see some herons and ospreys nesting in the dead trees within the pond depending on the time of year. The best chance is spring/summer.

North Peak is in the Vaughn Hills Conservation area.

Peach Hill

A: The true summit of Peach Hill is actually on private land in Berlin, but the highest point on conservation land is very close. The Fyfeshire Pond and Dam are always pleasant to walk by and enjoy the scenery. 

Pro Tip: Stop by afterward at Baba Sushi and The Legacy Kitchen for dine-in or take-out.

Peach Hill is in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area.

Powder House Hill 

A: Probably my favorite area, being such a large undisturbed area right in the middle of town. The summit is NOT at the Powder House historical building – where the town’s gunpowder supply was required to be stored when it was built in 1812. The summit is actually on the other side of the gas line toward the Quail Run Road trailhead.

Powder House Hill is in the Powder House Conservation Area.

Rattlesnake Hill 

A: There are no Rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Hill. I repeat…There are no Rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Hill. There may be a few mountain bikers and hikers, but definitely no rattlesnakes. There is a Wildflower Walk and an Ecology Walk (Bob Horton Trail) right out of the Lime Kiln entrance

Pro Tip: Stop by afterward at Slater’s or Bolton Spring Farm (in season) for dine-in or take-out.

Rattlesnake Hill is in the Rattlesnake Conservation Area.

Barrett’s Hill 

A: We don’t keep track of usage, but this is probably the least visited conservation in town. At the summit, if you follow the stone wall to the northwest, you will be rewarded with viewing arguably the largest maple tree in town.

Pro Tip: Take the more gradual route to the summit as indicated on the conservation area map. The alternative is a little shorter in length but very steep. 

Barrett’s Hill is in the Danforth Conservation Area.

Long Hill

A: The Annie Moore property is probably one of the most quintessential New England conservation areas, which includes long straight stone walls through areas including oak forests, wetlands, orchards, and farms. It’s the longest hike to reach a summit on the list, but also a fairly gradual walk to reach Annie Moore Road from Bolton Woods Way. The actual summit of Long Hill is on private land, but the trailhead at Annie Moore Road is pretty close.

Long Hill is in the Annie Moore Conservation Area.

What are the broad goals of this challenge? 

A: We are hoping to inspire more people to explore their community and get to know the vast network of conservation areas we have in this town. There are so many studies indicating the physical and mental health benefits of being outside and being active, that any way we could encourage our neighbors to get outside more will really benefit everyone.

Hikers take on North Peak in the Vaughn Hills Conservation Area.

How hard is it to complete this challenge and is there a deadline?

A: These are not overly challenging hikes, and can be done at any pace.  The trail surface can be rocky or have roots, which is very typical in New England. Some sections can be a little steep, as these are hikes up to the top of a hill, but the trails are designed for a majority of users to be able to walk on them, including kids. As long as you have some sturdy shoes (a.k.a. no flip-flops) you should be fine. My plan is to have my 6-year-old to complete this challenge if that helps others gauge the challenge level of these hikes.

What should people know if they are not regular hikers? 

A: It’s just a walk in the woods, but the best advice is to try to find someone who has done it before, including joining a guided walk that we try to do monthly, which can be found at: https://www.townofbolton.com/conservation-commission/news/guided-trail-walk-schedule-2023

REI has a good resource available at: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-for-beginners.html

How can people get involved or help the Bolton Trails Committee and the Bolton Conservation Trust?

A: The Bolton Trails Committee is always looking for more help. We could use some more “trail adopters”, which are simply just people that walk certain trails regularly and report any issues they come across. We have a mailing list that we use to recruit help for work parties and special projects. The biggest need is getting more people to be project leaders on these conservation area improvement projects throughout town. The Bolton Conservation Trust is always looking for more people to help as well. 

For more information, reach out to:

 
Anything else you’d like to add? 

A: These public conservation lands are meant for the public to use and enjoy. I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of the great resources our town has to offer. Although our town does not have a lot of typical “services”, we are rich in publicly accessible land.

Limited edition adult and youth-sized hats go to those who complete the 2023 Summit Series Challenge.  If you look closely at the logo there are seven hills to indicate each of the peaks of the Summit Series Challenge.

Spring 2023 in Bolton, MA. (aerial taken above Colonial Candies on Sugar Road) Image courtesy: Ashok Ganguli Photography

New limits on PFAS—“forever chemicals”—and monitoring local wells

As The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes a new standard regulating PFAS chemicals in public drinking water supplies, many are wondering: What does this mean for local well water?

To delve into this topic, we talk with Liz Schoepke, co-founder of SafeWell in Bolton, to find out what it means and the best approaches to ensuring well water safety.

First, here’s some background with links to more information:

What are PFAS and how big a problem is this?

Communities around the United States and the world are grappling with what to do about PFAS. Short for ‘per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances,’ PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals found in thousands of products ranging from firefighting foam, stain-resistant products, and waterproof makeup to fast food containers, microwave popcorn bags, and Teflon pans. Even basic products like toilet paper are contributing to the problem. 

PFAS are created to help products resist water, oil, stains, and heat. While convenient, these chemicals are dangerous to human health and do not break down easily—remaining in the human body for years. 

Exposure to higher levels of PFAS has been linked to an increased risk for health problems such as cancer, liver damage, high blood pressure, lowered immunity, decreased fertility in women, and risks to unborn babies and children. That’s why organizations like the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition have worked to educate people about PFAS.

PFAS in waterways

The U.S. has had a long history of PFAS use. Though manufactured for more than 50 years, PFAS were not widely documented in environmental samples until the early 2000s. 

In recent years, it’s been shown that PFAS have made it into numerous water systems, including the ocean and many drinking water sources. The Environmental Working Group has an interactive map that shows areas where PFAS have been found in the U.S. If a community shows as not affected, there’s a good chance there hasn’t been testing. 

Like other areas of the country, Massachusetts has had to manage PFAS levels in drinking water. But it can’t be removed from area waterways. According to recent reports, new fish consumption advisories were issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public health after elevated PFAS levels were recorded in water at 13 state parks. This adds to other toxins such as mercury and PCBs, which have already led to limits on fish consumption.

PFAS and drinking water

Massachusetts is among the states leading the nation in setting guidelines for PFAS in drinking water. Since October 2020, the state has had guidelines that call for lower levels—20 parts per trillion (ppt) rather than 70 ppt. However, in June 2022, the EPA set advisories calling for levels close to zero. On March 14, 2023, the EPA settled on a proposal to set guidelines at 4 ppt for 2 types of PFAS (PFOA and PFOS). It would also regulate mixtures of 4 other types of PFAS ( PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals). If finalized, the proposed regulation will require public water systems to monitor these PFAS, and, if levels exceed the proposed guidelines, notify the public and reduce levels.

The proposed new standards are part of a broad effort by the EPA to address PFAS contamination. Critics say new standards should set limits closer to zero and monitor a broader range of PFAS (thousands exist). Experts admit reducing certain PFAS to close to zero would be a major challenge. Even reductions to 4 ppt are going to be difficult for many communities. 

To help prepare communities: the EPA announced plans in February 2023 to help states clean up PFAS in drinking water and hold polluters responsible. The federal nationwide effort includes funding to Massachusetts. Funds will, in part, go to communities in need of assistance to add filtration systems to municipal water treatment facilities to remove PFAS. This can be extremely expensive. For instance, the town of Littleton recently spent $16 million dollars to enhance filtration.

What about well water?

While municipal water sources are upgrading filtration systems, homeowners with private wells across the country and state have been largely left to figure it out on their own. The EPA did update its well water page regarding PFAS contamination.

The state of Massachusetts offers guidance and had a free PFAS Sampling Program for private wells in some communities that rely heavily on wells, including Bolton. However, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) free sampling program has ended. The PFAS private well sampling effort compiled data. The results are expected to be included in a final report.

Overall, there are a lot of unknowns for homeowners who are now faced with the question: “Do I need to test, and what do I do if PFAS levels are high?”  

For some answers, we contacted SafeWell of Bolton. The company’s co-founder, Bolton resident Liz Schoepke, is very familiar with monitoring and managing PFAS contamination. “SafeWell has tested thousands of wells across Massachusetts,” she notes.  “Generally, more than 50% have detectable levels of PFAS, and some discover alarming levels (hundreds of ppt) and there may not be an obvious source in the vicinity.” 

The following Q&A  with Schoepke provides additional answers for homeowners:

Q: How would you describe the extent of the PFAS problem locally and nationally?

A: As with a “new” discovery of chemical contamination, the early focus was on figuring out where and what were the sources of hotspots. This included industrial operations known to manufacture or use PFAS and fire stations and airports where PFAS-containing fire-fighting foam was used, and landfills where PFAS-contaminated waste had been disposed. However, over time, as PFAS were detected in groundwater that didn’t appear to be directly influenced by obvious sources, we learned that “natural” fertilizer made with wastewater sewage plant sludge and pulp and paper waste could contain high levels of PFAS. All that to say, PFAS may be a “forever chemical,” but I call it the “everywhere chemical.”

Q: What were the findings of the MassDEP well sampling program?

A: I have crunched the final data and can summarize: 59 of the 84 towns had detectable levels of PFAS in private wells, of which 21 towns had levels >20 ppt, and 5 towns had levels >90 ppt. 

Bolton had 10 detections (>2 ppt) out of 25 samples (highest result 13.2 ppt); Lancaster no tests (apparently not more than 60% private wells); Stow had 20 out of 42 detections, 9 over 20 ppt, but there is an ongoing testing and remediation project, focused on town center, where there were detections as high as 500 ppt. The Town of Stow is paying to install treatment systems in homes*  where PFAS is detected greater than 20 pp. (* Only homes that are part of the project; higher detections outside of the project area are on their own to install treatment.)

Q: How will new PFAS guidelines affect homeowners with wells?

A: Not at all, in an enforceable way, unless a particular Board of Health includes PFAS in their list of things to test in well water. However, EPA and MassDEP limits are the guidelines well owners are encouraged to meet in their own well water quality. So, in a sense, homeowners who learn that PFAS are in their groundwater can refer to these limits as goals to meet when choosing a treatment option.

 Q: If you have a well in or around Bolton should you test it? 

 A: Absolutely! Consider whether there are any potential sources near your location: fire department, landfill (active, inactive, or even old family “dump”), commercial/agricultural or residential fertilizer application (including golf courses).

 Q: How do you get it tested and how does it work?

 A: Because MassDEP regulates only 6 PFAS chemicals (combined limit 20 ppt), we recommend that homeowners test only for “MA PFAS-6.” Homeowners have at least two options for this:

  • Get a PFAS sample collection kit from a certified lab (we like Alpha Analytical in Marlboro, which does not take “walk ins”, but Nashoba Analytical in Ayer will either provide kits or take samples which they have analyzed at Alpha Analytical), follow detailed sampling instructions (e.g., no clothing or personal care products that could contain PFAS, etc.), take the sample to the lab, and the lab provides a detailed report.
  • Call a company like SafeWell, which has:
    • Experienced technicians who have been specifically trained in PFAS sampling
    • Simple-to-understand health-based interpretation of the results
    • Counseling to explain options and provides treatment/filtration to address PFAS

Q: If PFAS contamination is found, what happens next? 

A: First, consider what level of risk you are willing to live with. We strongly recommend installing treatment if PFAS exceeds the MassDEP MCL of 20 ppt; any PFAS below that level: it’s a personal choice.

Know that pregnant women, babies, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system are at the greatest risk from the health effects from PFAS.

Effective treatment options can be found online, at DIY stores, or with professional treatment system companies. It’s not unusual for homeowners (or their plumbers) to install their own systems to treat PFAS, only to discover they are not effective; they could be the wrong size, wrong materials, not certified, incorrectly plumbed, the list goes on. If you choose to treat your water, do your research.

Different options for treatment/filtration include whole-house (point-of-entry treats all the water used throughout the home, typically carbon filtration and requires professional installation) and point-of-use, which can include under-sink units which filter all water at one particular tap, or a personal water filter (like CycloPure’s Purefast cartridge which fits a Brita filter).

Q: If a homeowner decides on a personal water filter, what should they look for in a filter?

A: An NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) label is a good start. However, NSF standards for PFAS removal are based on EPA’s old level of 70 ppt – that won’t do anyone much good! Actually, it’s a good idea to start with a certified product (NSF, WQA, UL, IAPMO), then look at the product’s specifications: most will specify a percent removal for PFAS. I wouldn’t accept a product that has a less than 95% removal rate.

Whatever filter (or filtration system) you choose MUST BE maintained (such as replacing the filter cartridges or changing the tanks) on a regular basis – at least as frequently as the manufacturer recommends. You cannot know – unless you test – when the filter has “run out” and PFAS are getting through.

Also very important: if you have an existing reverse-osmosis filtration system (RO), if maintained properly, it will remove PFAS; however, if you are on a septic system, MassDEP advises against using RO for removing PFAS since the concentrated PFAS waste stream will basically be discharged back to the environment.

Q: Can boiling water actually make the PFAS worse?

A: Yes, as with many other water contaminants, boiling water can further concentrate PFAS.

Q: Will levels go down over time? How often do you need to retest?

 A: PFAS have been around for such a long time that we can’t predict that groundwater levels will go down or up over time. In many cases, the contamination has been moving through our groundwater for so many years that the PFAS level at your location could go down, but, because groundwater is always moving, a contaminated plume could also increase your PFAS level.

If PFAS have been detected in your well, and you chose not to treat/filter, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to re-test every few 1-3 years.

Q: What is the expense to test for PFAS?

A: That’s the bad news: PFAS analysis is expensive. A mail-in test to MyTapScore.com is $299, Nashoba Analytical charges $400. Full service sampling, analysis and reporting with SafeWell is $438 (only PFAS testing) or $269 (if adding PFAS to other water quality testing).

Q: There are funds being set aside for MA under the EPA plan; would these funds help local well owners?

A: My understanding is that these funds are designated for public water systems to install treatment. Generally, private well owners are mostly on their own. There may be, however, grants and loans available from RCAP Solutions and the USDA for private well treatment.   These grant options assume financial need and probably “imminent danger” in the water quality, and are not necessarily for people who want to install treatment and find it expensive. The Private Well Class’s Funding page is a good place for folks to start their research. [There is also an in-depth Well Class video focused on funding and financing options]

[Note: For specific local questions, request information from the Town of Bolton or your town of residence. The EPA addresses PFAS cleanup funding (#18), but funding specifics are vague. MA state funding programs are generally geared toward community water supplies. If the source of PFAS contamination is evident, there may be options for reimbursement.]

Q: Some residents are concerned testing could affect their home values. What are your thoughts on that?

A: I get that, and it’s probably true today. However, remember that it is unlikely that a homeowner or particular property will be found liable for the PFAS contamination in their well. It’s better to know if PFAS are in your water and be able to treat them to protect your family’s health. I may be exaggerating here, but if every well is determined to have some level of PFAS, the best protection is to install and maintain a treatment system; this will become a positive selling point in the future.

Q: How do you think newer limits will impact this area? 

 A: Legally, these limits have no direct bearing on private well owners, except as guidance for whether or not to treat.

One of my biggest concerns is that, because private well owners have so few resources to consult, they fear “getting in trouble” with local authorities, losing property value, or simply given a bad reputation for having a contaminated well. There is no mechanism or incentive for residents to report, for example to their Board of Health, and as a result, there is no way to share information about local PFAS levels with their neighbors. My goal is to ensure the best information and education for homeowners with private wells, and they’re not getting the information they need about local PFAS contamination.

For more information on local well monitoring and treatment from Schoepke, contact SafeWell

Health concerns create change 

Some towns such as Harvard require homeowners to test for PFAS before selling a house and Stow is considering doing the same, according to a WBUR report. Bolton has recommended testing be done before selling. As Schoepke pointed out, mitigating any potential problems before selling by installing a filtration system, if needed, could make the process faster.

When it comes to prevention, Massachusetts is among the states leading the nation in the effort to stop PFAS from entering the environment. State lawmakers, led by Rep. Kate Hogan of Stow and Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro, have introduced legislation (HD 3324 / SD 2053) to phase out the use of PFAS in almost all products sold in the state by 2030 and to implement many of the recommendations made last year by a task force that the lawmakers chaired. Other states like California are also leading in the effort to ban PFAS products. The goal is to reduce the flow of PFAS into the environment to cut down on future exposure. Unfortunately, these new measures don’t affect PFAS already in the environment. 

What can you do to reduce PFAS?

Filtration of drinking water is one way to limit the consumption of PFAS.  It also helps to avoid products that contain PFAS, including those that may lead to PFAS entering foods or ending up in landfills that may contaminate groundwater. Requesting manufacturers remove PFAS from products is another way consumers can create change. 

Note: Products labeled ‘PFOA free’ or ‘PFOS free’ may still contain other types of PFAS

The following organizations are among those working to help consumers navigate PFAS when making purchases: 

Boston Clean Water Fund

Ecology Center

Consumer Reports

Because PFAS – “forever chemicals” – don’t break down easily, stopping the flow of PFAS into the environment is critical. For more information:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)

National Institutes of Health

WBUR: PFAS series

Bolton Airport History: before tee times there were takeoffs

According to the Town of Bolton: “A single-runway airport, the Bolton Airport, opened in the southwest part of town in the mid-1930’s.”

Some describe it as being at the location of the Twin Springs golf course or off Wilder Road at the International Golf Club entrance. It was closely linked to an adjoining small Clinton airfield, which closed. The two airfields eventually seemed to merge and expand as the Bolton Airport (See Bolton Airport history below).

“The Bolton Airport continued to operate until 1951, largely as a flight school. By 1947 it had trained three hundred pilots under the G.I. Bill; it was also a base for the Civil Air Patrol,” notes the Town of Bolton website.

The YouTube video below—posted by Doug Ronan in 2012—has the following description: 

“Amazing old footage of flying at the Bolton Airport in Bolton, Mass and Tanner Hiller Airport in Barre, Mass in 1949.”

Bolton Airport history

The website “Abandoned and Little-Known Airports: Central Massachusetts” created by Paul Freeman in 1999 outlines the history of the airport and others. The following excerpts offer an overview (see the entire article for more on how the Bolton Airport expanded into Clinton): 

“After the end of WW2, activity at the field began to pick up, when Worcester industrialist Harry Kumpe formed Airports Inc. & rented the airfield. He hired Loran “Pappy” Malone to manage the field, who quickly became a father figure to the young student pilots at Bolton. The Haire Publishing Company’s 1945 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) listed the Bolton Airport as being located 2.3 miles northeast of Clinton, and described the field as having two 1,900′ sod runways, oriented north/south & east/west.”

“At its peak (according to Jerry Mears, who flew at Bolton from 1946-49), approximately 25 aircraft called Bolton home. During the airport’s heyday its owners designed many expansion schemes. According to Randy Wilson (who learned to fly at Bolton), “They were calling it the Country Club of the Air. They had big plans.”

“Unfortunately, by the early 1950s, the “GI Bill” funding which had previously enabled much of the flight training business at Bolton had started to decline, and this resulted in a sharp decrease in flight training & aircraft sales. These factors, coupled with competition from other airports, caused the Bolton Airport to be officially closed in the Summer of 1951. However, a few local pilots continued to use the closed airfield for a little while. In a sad ending to the little airport, it had its only fatal accident after the field was closed: in 11/1/52, Brigham Mayo crashed while attempting to land at the abandoned airport.”

“In 1953 the airport land was sold to Albert Surprennant & George Forsberg, along with the adjacent Runaway Brook Country Club. Bolton Airport was evidently closed at some point between 1954-55, as it was no longer depicted on the May 1955 Boston Sectional Chart. Between 1955-58, the new owners of the property expanded the golf course onto the land formerly occupied by Bolton Airport.”

Origins of the airport video

The YouTube video poster notes that the video was ‘from Nate Mayo of Mayocraft in Bolton Mass.’ and that the film was shot by ‘Nate’s brother Brigham Mayo.”

According to the article above, Brigham Mayo died in an airfield crash in 1952. 

According to Nathan Mayo’s family as outlined in his 2018 obituary

“Nathan was a lifelong resident of Bolton. He carried on a rich family tradition of naval service, earned his wings as an officer and official naval aviator and flew off the deck of aircraft carriers. Nate began flying at age 15 and did not stop until his health prevented him from doing so. He worked for 28 years as a design engineer and machinist while still carrying on his love of flying and restoring airplanes. After working with the Collings Foundation in Stow, Nate established Mayocraft, Inc. in 1985 to dedicate himself fully to the design, construction and restoration of vintage aircraft.” 

——–

For more information about Bolton’s history, visit the Bolton Historical Society‘s Facebook page and website.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar makes its debut

If you’ve never seen a monarch caterpillar hatch, you’re certainly not alone. The eggs are about the size of the tip of a pencil. Yet a lot is going on inside!

Below is video taken (with a microscope attachment) as a baby caterpillar breaks out of its egg. It then eats the egg as its first meal.

We named this little guy Miles—inspired by the many miles monarchs travel on their trip to Mexico.

Miles’ egg was found on a plant growing next to a concrete parking lot in Sterling, MA. The egg was removed in case the plants were cut down, which they often are in parking lot cases. The shell darkens before hatching. That’s the caterpillar getting ready to break free.

Milkweed planting

After eating its eggshell, monarch caterpillars rely on milkweed plant leaves for all meals. Milkweeds are the only food for these caterpillars. There are a variety of types of milkweeds. If you order seeds, make sure to get milkweed plants that are native to your area.

Milkweed seeds can be planted in the fall and winter or placed in the fridge to mimic natural cold stratification. There are a number of great ‘how to’ videos to learn more about growing milkweed plants. 

Saving milkweed plants

It’s hard to tell how many monarch eggs or baby caterpillars like this are killed each year. They have a variety of predators. Habitat destruction and chemicals are a bigger threat to the species as a whole. The problem: they are often cut down as weeds, cleared for construction, or sprayed with chemicals.

Instead of clearing them or spraying them, consider planting native pollinator plants around them to give adult butterflies a great place to stop. Milkweed plants often have flowers that are pretty and complement other flowers well. 

Will a monarch lay eggs if you have a milkweed plant ready? It’s hard to tell as there are dwindling numbers of monarchs, which are endangered. Those who track monarchs say improving habitat is critical.

To create a habitat, avoid spraying the plants with chemicals or cutting them (you could be cutting off eggs or caterpillars; they are small!) and plant milkweed and other native pollinator plants that are protected from spraying or mowing.  

Monarch lifecycle

The monarch butterfly’s lifecycle is pretty amazing to watch. After hatching, monarch caterpillars go through weeks of rapid growth. They have to literally shed their skin to grow. This includes busting out of their little face masks. This video (still using a microscope camera) shows one of little Miles’ molting sessions.

Many baby caterpillars like Miles won’t make it due to habit loss or spraying. Here are some resources to learn more about how to help:

Mass Audubon

Xerces Society

Pollinator Partnership

Check back here in the coming weeks. We’ll post the video of Miles and friends as they continue their journey toward becoming butterflies. We’ll also look at the serious illness that is spreading among monarchs, why it can kill many, and what NOT to do if you see baby caterpillars. 

Also, if you love wildlife videos, check out the Bolton Trail Cam and Bower Springs beaver stories!

Bolton Common Skating: Opening Day 2023 with Matt Savoie

Bravo to ice skater and former Olympian Matt Savoie and the Bolton Parks and Recreation Commission for the Opening Day of the Bolton Common skating rink.

Braving brutally cold temperatures which kept most people indoors, Savoie skated and some hardy families made it to the rink Saturday, February 4th. Despite the cold, the performance was great and there was a fire nearby. Here’s a look for those who couldn’t make it:

Organizers debated postponing the event to wait for more moderate temps. However, scheduling conflicts and forecasts for warm weather within a day of the planned opening made rescheduling difficult. About 24 hours after the opening, much of the ice had melted. 

Matt Savoie at the Olympics 

If you haven’t seen Matt Savoie skate a large rink, we’ve found U.S. Figure Skating performances – including videos from the Torino 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy – that are a real joy to watch. Here are the Olympic free skate and short program videos. There are also videos from the 2006 U.S. Nationals and the 2006 Four Continents event. Those are just some you can find in a search. In short, Bolton is extremely lucky to have such talent in the vicinity!  

Looking ahead: will there be more skating this season?

The answer from Bolton Parks and Rec is: hopefully. “We still have about a month to work with,” notes Lisa Shepple of Parks and Rec, who points out that it’s based on whether temperatures dip low enough for a long enough period to re-freeze. 

Shepple says if there is an expected refreeze there may not be a lot of time to give advance notice. “It will probably be announced at the beginning of the week according to the weather forecasts,” she adds. 

Follow Bolton Parks and Recreation for updates and other upcoming plans through the spring and summer.

Rebuilding lives with Fresh Start Furniture Bank

If you have furniture and other household goods to donate, consider Fresh Start Furniture Bank, a non-profit organization in Hudson that helps local families.

Fresh Start Furniture Bank assists Massachusetts residents like the family pictured above who lost everything recently in a fire. The organization’s mission is to “restore hope, dignity, and stability in our community by recycling donated furniture and housewares, for free, to people in need.” The effort also helps keep potentially useful items out of landfills. So, it’s a win-win. 

In a recent Facebook post, Fresh Start Furniture Bank introduced the Cardona family. The post reads: “They are a family of 6 that recently arrived in the U.S. from Columbia and were all sleeping on the floor. The parents came from Pittsfield for help furnishing their apartment.  They left happy with a full truck and everything that they needed to start their new life. They sent this message, ‘Thank you very much!  Blessings to all!  We are very grateful for the beautiful work of your team!'”

How it works

Fresh Start Furniture Bank has created a store-like shopping experience. It’s not open to everyone. To receive furniture, an applicant receives a referral from a social service agency. That person or family then has 30 days to go to Fresh Start Furniture where a personal shopper helps select items. The goal is to have enough furniture and household goods to help all those who need assistance. Boston 25 News recently toured Fresh Start Furniture Bank and aired this report

How you can help

The organization has just one employee and the rest are volunteers who regularly put in 16,000 hours a year. There are many ways to help. Donating the type of furniture and household goods that are on the organization’s wish list is one way to help. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated. 

There are times when weather or other circumstances cause a drop in donations. After last week’s cold weather, Fresh Start Furniture Bank is short on items. 

If you have something to donate, check their website to see if it’s accepted and review the drop-off days or inquire about possible pickup. Learn more at: http://www.freshstartfurniturebank.org and follow the organization on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/FreshStartFurnitureBank

Bower Springs beaver—tail splash video

It appears that the early hiker or snowshoer catches the best view of wildlife in action.

“This was an early morning snowshoeing run with me and Kathy!” noted Bolton resident Elizabeth Davis-Edwards, who was out early at Bower Springs in Bolton with fellow Bolton resident Kathy Romeo.  “We got there at 6 am and were the first ones at Bower that morning.”

They may have surprised this Bolton beaver—with the surprise going both ways. See their video of the encounter:

Wonder why beavers slap the water with their tails? According to wildlife experts: “Beaver families are territorial and defend against other families. In order to warn family members of danger, beavers slap their tails against the water, creating a powerful noise.” See that information and more in this article:

9 Interesting Facts about Beavers

Bolton wildlife in action – Amazing trail cam footage

If you want to see Bolton wildlife in their natural setting, acting the way they would without human interference (aside from the camera), check out Bolton resident Keith Silver’s Still River Road trail cam episodes on YouTube. 

Here’s Keith Silver on how he got started: 

“Years ago I bought a cheap game camera on a lark.  The very first time I downloaded the photos off of it there was a bobcat right in front of the camera and I was hooked.  I’ve lived at my property on the Still River for over 30 years and I’m amazed at the variety of animals that the cameras capture that I’ve never seen with my eyes.  It’s a fun hobby but can be frustrating – like sorting through 300 movies of a weed blowing in the wind or two bucks fighting but only capturing the back half of one of them because the camera needed to be pointed a few feet to the right.  Still waiting to get a moose….”

Keith adds: “All of my movies are from my property on Still River Rd. I have 3 of them so far posted on YouTube. If you search on YouTube for “Bolton MA game camera” you should find them.”

Watch for more posts and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more Bolton animal adventures!

Viewing tip: Click the broken square to the right of the YouTube logo on the video to switch to full-screen video.

Calling for Bolton Fair exhibitors!

From prize-winning produce to amazing pictures, quilts, and other specialty items, the Bolton Fair is calling for exhibitors. Here’s a message to the community from the Bolton Fair Exhibits Director Brenda Hoseason:

Brenda: Hello friends and neighbors! This year will mark the 139th Bolton Fair. One of the oldest traditions of the fair, along with the animals, is the Exhibit Hall. This is where local folks brought their food, flowers, baked goods, art, and sewing to be exhibited and judged for a small money prize. We still honor this tradition today at our small agricultural community event. Things have not changed too much in over a hundred plus years in the Exhibit area. We have added lots more categories to reflect the change in hobbies and interests.

I bet if you checked out this year’s exhibit guide on www.boltonfair.org you would find something for everyone! Why not gather yourself and/or your family and pick a few things that interest you? Bring those items to the Lancaster Fairgrounds on Thursday, August 11th between 3 and 8 pm to enter your creation. It’s free and fun! We will leave your items on display all weekend for other fairgoers to enjoy. Read all rules and regs on the Exhibit hall pdf.

The fair is run entirely by a few volunteers and this year I could use some help to register the exhibits in the Exhibit Tent. If you are available for a few hours on Thursday, August 11th I need you! It’s an easy and fun job for individuals, a few friends, or make it a date night with your spouse! Any adults or high schoolers are welcome. Come get together and share some time with a few neighbors or make a new friend! Please contact me at pohbac@comcast.net for more info. Thanks so much and we will see you at the Fair!

Brenda Hoseason, Bolton Fair Exhibits Director.