IN THIS ISSUE: VOL. II NO. 04 2/15/2021
Stockbridge Updates: Statement of Purpose
To inform the electorate without opinion or pressure and give them the facts they need to make their own decisions.
To provide space for opinion, but since facts and opinions are different, to clearly mark opinion pieces, and clearly identify the opinion holder.
Stockbridge Updates is a periodic newsletter delivered through email.
Carole Owens, Managing Editor
Birds at the feeder. Photo: Don Stevens.
Open Meeting Law
The Open Meeting Law (OML) is not a suggestion or guideline, it is the law with "fair and consistent enforcement" by the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth.
The purpose of the OML is to "promote openness and transparency in government." It enables voters to understand not only the decisions made, but the deliberative process reaching it. OML benefits voters and is an underpinning of democratic rule.
However, OML can be cumbersome for officials. Public service is hard work. At times those who work on committees, commissions and boards do the work with more criticism than compensation. Nonetheless, it is incumbent on all officials, elected and appointed, to follow OML and operate within its boundaries. We owe our officials a sincere thank you and sincere understanding that public service is not for everyone. While we understand why some may chafe at the confines of the OML, it is no less incumbent upon them to follow it. If the work is too burdensome, if OML too complicated, they can step down or decline to run. They cannot decide to ignore the law.
Here is an overview of OML:
- Almost all meetings must be held in public.
- Meetings must be advertised to enable the public to attend.
- Records of all meetings must be created and maintained according to the specification of OML.
- Subcommittees of a board, commission or committee are equally subject to the OML.
All deliberations and decisions must be made in an advertised public meeting reached by a vote and with at least a quorum present. Private deliberations by a committee, commissioner or board, or a quorum thereof, are usually not allowed. For example, when there is no public access to site visits, questions or comments by members of the Planning Board or Conservation Commission are not permitted.
There are exceptions to the OML such as Executive Sessions. It is better to err on the side of caution and assume a public body – board, commission, committee, subcommittee – must meet in public.
There are consequences for flouting OML. When the OML is not observed, consequences ensue. One among many is "nullification of any action taken…" Another is that a member of a committee, commission or board can in some circumstances lose their right to vote. OML is meant to assure transparency in government.
Darwin. Photo: Joan Gallos.
Stockbridge Updates will publish "Stockbridge Candidates Q&A"
Stockbridge Updates invites all those running to retain their seats and those challenging them to please contact Stockbridge Updates and schedule an interview. In the May 1 issue, before election day, SU will print or videotape the candidates' opening statements and answers to three questions.
To assure fairness, we will collect statements and answers whenever the candidate is ready and post them all in the same issue. Contact SU to be included in "Stockbridge Candidates Q & A". Thank you. An informed electorate is the first priority of Stockbridge Updates.
Candidates who have taken out/returned papers:
- Donald Schneyer, Water & Sewer Commissioner
Taken out papers:
- Gary Johnston - Moderator
- Gary Pitney - Planning Board & Board of Assessors
- Christine Rasmussen - Planning Board
- Charlie Kenny – Board of Health
- Mark Faber – Tree Warden
Carole Owens, Managing Editor
Open seats in 2021
3-year terms: Moderator, Selectman, Board of Assessors, Board of Health, Tree Warden, Sewer and Water Commission
5-year terms: Planning Board, Planning Board, Housing Authority
Appointments: Finance Committee, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission - alternate
The current occupants of the seats are:
- Gary Johnston, Moderator
- Ernest (Chuckie) Cardillo, Selectman
- Gary Pitney, Chair, Board of Assessors
- Charles Kenny, Chair, Board of Health
- Peter Curtin, Tree Warden
- Donald Schneyer, Chair, Sewer and Water Commission
- Christine Rasmussen, Planning Board
- Gary Pitney, Planning Board
- James Welch, Housing Authority
- Jay Bikofsky, Chair, Finance Committee
Thank you all for your service. Good luck to you and to the contenders.
Open positions will appear on your ballot. The people currently in the seats may choose to run again or decline to run. All those wishing to run will submit nomination papers with requisite signatures by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday March 30, 2021 to gain a place on the printed ballot.
Stockbridge votes for candidates at the voting booth and on the issues at Town Meeting.
Jamie Pollard holds the near state-record-setting brown trout he caught on Stockbridge Bowl last weekend.
Notes from Town Boards
Notes from Board of Selectmen meeting January 28, 2021, 6:30pm via Zoom
Present: Chuck Cardillo, chair
Roxanne McCaffrey, member
Patrick White, member
Michael Canales, Town Administrator
Also present: Elizabeth and Ned Hazen; William and Susan Laidlaw; John Gillespie, President, Board of Directors, Stockbridge Library and India Spartz, Curator, Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives; Art Krieger, President, Beachwood Association with attorney.
- The SB awarded the library $100,000 toward the approximately $300,000 needed for the Library Archives HVAC system. President John Gillespie thanked the Select Board.
- The $100,000 was taken from the $123,000 remaining from the COVID Aid Relief and Security Act (CARES) grant awarded to Stockbridge. $17,000 will be used to improve the quality of the audio during SB Zoom meetings necessary due to COVID.
- The Hazens and the Laidlaws were present to explain the solution to the problem that arose at the last SB meeting. The Hazens are building a new garage. A portion is on Laidlaw property. There was an easement but since the Hazens tore down the old garage the easement may not be in force. The Town cannot issue a permit if any of the land is not owned by the applicant. It was decided to issue the permit "contingent upon" agreement of all parties and all parties sign the application. It passed.
- The highway department was complimented for the good job they did during the recent snowstorm.
- On behalf of Beachwood, President Art Krieger asked permission to convert a resident fee assessed by the Association into a part of the Stockbridge Tax bill. The assessment is necessary to maintain dirt roads and beach areas. If some residents do not pay, the shortfall could add up and cripple Beachwood's effort to maintain those areas.
- The balance of discussion pertained to the items for the upcoming Town Meeting Warrant.
Patrick White would like a percentage of last year's free cash to go to the Housing Trust Fund. He also renewed his desire to propose the Residential Tax Exemption (RTE).
Roxanne McCaffrey proposed that the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Committee (SBSC) be written into Town Bylaws as a permanent commission.
Chuck Cardillo proposed a Right to Farm Bylaw (RTF).
Finally, White said that there were as many as 10 other Warrant items under consideration by other boards and committees.
About Residential Tax Exemption (RTE)
RTE is a state initiative. Enacted in 1979, a part of RTE is an option under the property tax classification that shifts the tax burden within the residential class from owners of moderately valued residential properties to the owners of higher-valued properties, vacation homes, and residential properties not occupied by the owner, including vacant land and apartment buildings. It is in Mass General Law: C 59, sec. 5C, and grants the Select Board the ability to enact this exemption without input from the pubic or any committee, commission or board. However, the SB may choose to bring it to Town Meeting for comment (binding or non-binding).
RTE does require knowing who is and who is not a resident. The definition of a resident is not determined locally; it is state law: "A resident is a person who maintains a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts and spends more than 183 days of the taxable year in Massachusetts. Whether a person maintains a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts is a factual determination." (Mass General Law: TIR 95 – 7)
About Right to Farm (RTF)
This General By-law encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture- based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies.
It would be a Town Bylaw requiring a 2/3 vote and falls under Mass General Law Chapter 40A Section 3, paragraph one.
(There was no SB meeting on February 4.)
Notes from Board of Selectmen meeting February 11, 2021, 6:30pm via Zoom
Present: Chuck Cardillo, chair
Roxanne McCaffrey, member
Patrick White, member
Michael Canales, Town Administrator
The Select Board decided to decline the grant from the state to add temporary propane heaters to the outdoor locations of Stockbridge restaurants.
The Board determined it would not have the Planning Board recommendations by the 25th to act on the special permit application regarding 82 Interlaken and discussed continuing the hearing to a later date.
The board discussed using the remaining Federal CARES Act monies to assist residents with food, rent or heat.
Highlights from the budget agenda item:
Michael Canales, the Town Administrator, walked the Select Board through his preliminary budget, including revenues, expenses, existing debt and debt service costs.
- Michael Canales discussed upgrading at least one Police Department patrol car to a hybrid.
- The Board agreed to reduce the town's litigation budget.
- The BHRSD/school budget will grow by over $200,000 in the next fiscal year.
- The Board discussed an increase in the salaries for the PB and CC secretaries due to the significant increase in the Board's workload.
- Michael Canales proposed to consolidate our senior driving services to a regional approach with Great Barrington.
- The Board discussed financing options to repair the Chimes Tower and whether to budget to repair the second Averic Road bridge sooner than would be necessary if we waited for a state small bridge grant.
- Patrick White advocated to increase the Tree Warden salary and budget for tree work, as well as an inventory of old-growth Hemlocks at Ice Glen as a first step in inoculating them against Woolly Adelgid.
Highlights from the Bylaw Warrant Items discussion:
The following items were discussed regarding Bylaw/One-Time Expense Warrant Items:
- Downtown Sign Bylaw
- Driveway Bylaw
- Downtown Parking Bylaw
- Bear/Trash Bylaw
- 911 Bylaw
- Short-Term Rental Bylaw
- Housing Trust Fund Bylaw
- Residential Exemption Non-Binding Question
- Dog and Kennel Bylaw
- Right to Farm Bylaw
- Mosquito Control Participation
- Planning Board Appropriate for Bylaw Updates
- Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission/Budget and Bylaw
- The Beachwood request for a Road Maintenance District
A new beaver dam with an old abandoned, pumping station in the background. Photo: Patrick White.
Notes from the Planning Board February 9 via Zoom
William Vogt, Chair
Jennifer Carmichael, secretary
Consultants: Jeff Lacey and Philip Arnold
In addition: On behalf of special permit requests: Brent White, Mike Parsons, Carla Krasnick, Bill Loutrel, Earl Kramer, David Brause, Lori Robbins, Joan Cohen, Rick Fynnan
- Michael Parsons outlined the transfer of a half-acre parcel to cure an encroachment by 12 Manitauk into 7 Rattlesnake. The transfer of ownership would not include frontage on a road or create a building lot. The matter was continued so that two corrections could be made in the documentation.
- 82 Interlaken. During the last session, the public meeting was closed, which prohibits other than PB members to speak. Given the unresolved issues, it was first suggested that another consultant be hired. That was abandoned in favor of a motion to reopen the public meeting. Town Attorney was present by telephone to walk the PB through the process. The public meeting will be reopened and advertised per OML.
- On behalf of 1 Grove Street, Mark Volpe described the two-story structure, garage on the lower level and artist's studio above, that requires a special permit. Conditional upon a correction in the application, the special permit was approved.
- On behalf of 1 Lakeview Drive, Mark Volpe described the construction of a "basement" under a house built on piers. It was approved.
- Consultant Jeff Lacey described the various components of a Natural Resource Protection Zoning Bylaw (NRPZ). Currently Stockbridge has two-to-four-acre zoning in most residential areas. NRPZ is a plan to direct subdivisions and development. There are various configurations: fixed acre, cluster housing, and ratio. Most contain a ratio for percentage of developed to conserved land. The ratio varies from 65% - 90% conserved. The Commonwealth recommends 90%. Lacey presented slides illustrating how each would look after development.
While NRPZ appears to limit growth, it may not. Lacey explained underlying aspects of NRPZ that may pave the way for growth. First, NRPZ is not necessarily more limiting than the two-to-four-acre zoning Stockbridge currently has. Once the developer meets the requirements of NRPZ, the developer operates "by right", that is, the developer can do as he wishes and cannot be constrained. NRPZ includes Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) which means additional development rights can be purchased. For example, if the 41 acres of Camp Mahkeenac on Stockbridge Bowl were sold to a developer, under current zoning it could only be divided into 10 building lots or fewer. With TDR, a developer could possibly create 30 - 40 building lots. How?
For example, in Stockbridge, where there are numerous nonprofits on large parcels, a developer could make a donation in exchange for the development rights a nonprofit has by virtue of its acreage but does not wish to use. Tanglewood has 528 acres in Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell has more than 36, and Laurel Hill Association has over 460. Utilizing TDR, developers could build massive developments on land they owned.
Lacey presented a formula – calculated on a design work sheet – to determine the land to be conserved and the land to be developed. There is a conservation analysis that identifies "constrained land" that cannot be developed.
Questions that arose:
The consultant asked if there was land surrounding the Berkshire Cottages and how many such properties there were. In an earlier PB meeting, Lacey said he was placing before the PB a plan he developed for another Massachusetts town. The question then arises, is this consultant developing bylaw changes that are Stockbridge-specific? If not, much work would remain for the PB and SB to make Lacey's work Stockbridge-specific.
The Chair of PB asked how a developer could make money rather than how development would impact Stockbridge. Another PB member, Marie Rafferty, asked if NRPZ is for houses only or if it could include hotels and other businesses. Another PB member, Kate Fletcher, pointed out that if so, it would not align with "smart growth". That is, it would decentralize rather than concentrate businesses and would promote residential sprawl. Finally, a question for PB: if NRPZ requires identification of "constrained lands", shouldn't the Conservation Commission be involved?
- Consultant Phil Arnold reported on proposed bylaw changes to driveways, parking, and signage. When complete, the PB will forward to SB. Before placing on the warrant for Town Meeting, the SB may hold a public meeting to gather citizen input – watch for the announcement.
Before the meeting adjourned, it was suggested that the PB subcommittee working with the consultant is probably not in compliance with the OML. The Chair agreed to check. (See editorial above)
Lily Pond. Photo: Patrick White.
Notes from the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Committee – February 5 via Zoom
Present: Jamie Minacci, Chair
John Loiodice, Sewer and Water Commission
Charlie Kenny, Board of Health
Michael Nathan, SBA
Roxanne McCaffrey, SB
Mike Buffoni, Water Dept.
Consultants: Ben Burpee, Dr. Bob Kortmann, Chris Mayne
In addition: Richard Seltzer
Dr Kortmann, Lake Management expert, gave a comprehensive report of his survey of Lake Mahkeenac – Stockbridge Bowl. There was much technical information (see article by Charlie Kenny, Chair, Board of Health). In general, the report found that the lake has been stable over a period of 40 years, 1980 -2020. That is a good sign and supports what the Town, including Conservation Commission, have and have not done in managing the lake.
Kortmann suggested we focus on whole lake management; that we continue to monitor the lake annually, and that we adopt a holistic approach as recommended by both the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission. Dr Kortmann did not recommend for or against using Fluoridone in the lake. However, if Fluoridone were used he strongly suggested the concentration of any Fluoridone application be carefully monitored to avoid negative impacts on non-targeted plants. Kortmann was opposed to "contact herbicides."
One member mentioned a decrease in water level. If that is so, then according to the experts, dredging to increase depth and enhance flow may be indicated. Some oppose dredging fearing it will "stir up" toxins. However, the depth recommended is unlikely to cause that.
Overall, it was a very positive report, reinforcing decisions Stockbridge made and opposed over the last four decades.
Photo: Joan Gallos.
About Stockbridge Bowl
by Charles Kenny, Chair, Board of Health
The Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Committee was formed by the Select Board to study and manage issues on the lake so that this beautiful treasure will remain available to everyone. Made up of members of the public as well as various Stockbridge boards and committees, the committee meets twice a month and is open to the general public via Zoom.
Most recently, the committee received a preliminary report from the GZA lake management firm and from the consulting firm of Robert Kortmann, Ph.D., about a lake testing program put in place last year. It was requested by the Board of Health, authorized by the Select Board, and implemented by GZA. Stockbridge Water and Sewer Commission assisted.
The report was focused on the issue of risk of cyanobacterial bloom, such as occurred in August 2018. Dr. Kortmann, a cyanobacteria expert, noted that the Bowl indeed has a risk for potentially toxic cyanobacterial blooms, especially from Oscillatoria (Planktothrix) species, but advised us that the Bowl in general is not in a deteriorating or worrisome state. To the contrary, the Stockbridge Bowl has been in a stable and relatively satisfactory state since the 1980s. Water clarity has actually improved. There has been only one health advisory for cyanobacterial bloom since the 1980s. As we proceed to tackle specific complaints related to the Bowl, it seems reasonable to consider that what we have been doing, and what we haven't done, has worked so far.
Dr. Kortmann did advise that the committee proceed with its plans to establish a comprehensive lake management plan and recommended specific testing to monitor conditions that might predispose it to another cyanobacterial bloom.
More from the Stockbridge Cemetery Commission
by Candace Currie
As Stockbridge works to find greener initiatives to combat climate change, cemeteries can play a role in reducing our carbon footprint. Today, there are three basic practices involved in conventional Christian burials: embalming, casketing, and lining a grave.
Embalming: Embalming has been around for thousands of years. It became part of funeral and burial traditions in the United States around the 1860s. Union soldiers who died on the battle fields of the south during the Civil War were embalmed and shipped north to be reunited with their families. In 1865, the embalmed body of Abraham Lincoln traveled by train from Washington D.C. to his hometown in Illinois. This public viewing of Lincoln by thousands of people increased the demand for embalming. In the 1860s, embalming fluids were often arsenic-, lead-, or zinc-based; today, they contain formaldehyde. Today, a body is often temporarily preserved so a family can have a public viewing or a funeral service.
Caskets and Coffins: Along with the rise in popularity of embalming came the rise of the funeral industry. No longer did the local cabinetmaker construct the coffins, but the local undertaker began to offer his services of embalming, selling caskets and waking someone in his funeral parlor, replacing the home parlor. Today, the casket may be constructed from beautiful wood, such as mahogany, that has been shipped long distances with finishes of non-biodegradable sealers.
Grave Liners or Vaults: Cemeteries in Massachusetts began using grave liners around the 1940s. These liners serve a few purposes. 1) After a grave is dug, the grave liner prevents the sides of grave from caving in, particularly, if the soil is sandy. 2) The liners may reduce subsidence (not sure if that is the correct word to use here?-what is the author trying to say – sinking or collapse?) of the lawn after a burial occurs. 3) The liners may reduce the risk of grave collapse when heavy equipment, such as a backhoe, drives over a grave to dig an adjacent grave. 4) They also make it easier to dig graves that are side-by-side without disturbing an existing burial.
There are alternatives to these conventional practices. Jewish and Muslim burials are green. They do not allow embalming. A body is shrouded and/or placed in a plain pine casket and lowered into the grave to directly touch the earth. Green alternatives are possible for everyone, but it will take change. Our next article will describe those alternatives and the changes needed.
Grave of Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mumbet, in the Sedgwick Pie. Photo: Patrick White.
- A COVID Vaccination Information line has been set up in Pittsfield. The number is 413-449-5575. It is a recorded message updated weekly or as information becomes available.
- The W.E.B. DuBois Middle School is now a vaccination location for South County. Additional sites may be added.
- People must be pre-approved and pre-registered. If you are 75 +, to preregister go to www.maimmunizations.org, www.getvaccinatedberhsires.org or call 211 and select #2.
- With numbers going in the right direction, Massachusetts again eases restrictions. Gatherings in restaurants gyms and other public places increased to 40% of capacity. More information available at www.Mass.gov/COVID
- Buddy up – for seniors who need a ride to the vaccination center, the state will now offer the vaccination to the senior and his/her driver.
- Stockbridge will initiate a Food Card program. For some time, religious organizations and food banks have offered groceries. The food cards will allow folks to shop for themselves. If you are interested in contributing, let SU know and we will pass it on.
Opening and closing in the time of COVID
The Berkshire Botanical Garden has the following program offered via Zoom
Join us on February 20, 2-3:30pm, for our Winter Lecture: Make Visible, Instill Value and Engage the Public in Our Shared Landscape Heritage, a talk which addresses interpretation of our shared landscape. The speaker, Charles Birnbaum, founder and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation and an award-winning landscape advocate, will explore our shared cultural landscape, emphasizing stewardship strategies and opportunities for public engagement in the Berkshires. This program is offered live online through Zoom.
Register at berkshirebotanical.org. Tickets: $15 members; $20 nonmembers.
Imagine what a different world it could be once the Black-Eyed Susans are in bloom. Photo: Patrick White.
70 Years and Counting
by Larry Ackerman
When people ask me where I grew up, for just a moment, I freeze. Not because I can't answer the question; but because it isn't a straightforward answer. I tell them that I was born and raised in White Plains and Larchmont, NY and went to White Plains High School. But -- and here is why I freeze -- that's not really where I grew up. My family has owned a second home here in Stockbridge since I was born: first, a cottage close to the Bowl and now a house near Lake Averic. If I grew up in Westchester County, Stockbridge is where I came of age. Here, is where I learned to fish when I was five, ate raw hot dogs along with Sammy the bulldog when he wandered by, and, as a toddler, before I knew what I was listening to, took in the strains of the music BSO members were practicing in our small community, from late June until the end of August. I fell in love with music before I could even spell the word, love.
Stockbridge is where I kissed my first girl. It was down by the lake at dusk, just before I was called home for the evening by my mother. I do remember her name, but that little morsel of information will remain my secret!
Stockbridge is where I learned to love summer thunderstorms; the ones that would roll in from the north or west around 4pm, drench the earth, giving sustenance to the vegetable gardens so many of us had, deliver intense flashes of lightning, and then drift away as the late afternoon sun crawled its way back through the clouds, dispersing over the lake. It was a perfect time to go fishing, which I did, often with my father, whom I am proud to say, must have been one of the best bass catchers in all of Berkshire County. He taught me well.
Stockbridge is where I learned to do nothing; just admire the world around me. Listen to the birdsong, the bullfrogs, the lazy drone of lawnmowers, the laughter of my cronies down the street, playing whiffle ball in the community lot. Sometimes, nothing is everything.
Stockbridge is where I learned the true meaning of family. This town will always hold my heart. It will always be my spiritual home.
Photo: Joan Gallos
Thoughts on Stockbridge
by Bob Jones
Writing as a former Stockbridge resident who lived in town for eighteen years, worked in town (my wife is still employed at the Austen Riggs Center), served in Town Government, volunteered, and enjoyed (still do) a circle of friends who are cherished and irreplaceable, I love Stockbridge. Born and raised in Great Barrington, school districts merged in 1967 and I was exposed to Stockbridge families and new friends. Retiring in 2019, circumstances landed us in Lee. So it goes.
Stockbridge is special. There, I've said it. There is a character, a soul, a certain serenity that comes with living there. Stockbridge is the small town that every other small town wants to be. Accolades and awards from around the country are bestowed on an annual basis:
"Most Beautiful Town... Prettiest Winter Town... Best Christmas Town... Most Festive Town... Most Charming Small Town in America (hard to top that one). Everybody wants to visit Stockbridge. A Stockbridge Zip Code is a goal for many home buyers. Let's be clear on at least one thing. This didn't happen by accident.
Stockbridge, for those who want to see it, is a way of life. Founders and subsequent generations created this. We became the beneficiaries of their care and prudence. There has been an unspoken, mutual agreement for years, that Stockbridge, its architecture, its history, its open space, its community involvement in preserving all of it, is essential to its healthy future. It needs to be maintained.
Some extoll concepts like economic development, property rights, lowering the tax rate, new business... valid concerns. Certainly necessary considerations for making policy in a small town. But not the only concerns.
A recurring question for me: If it ain't broke, why fix it? Given the evidence of the Town's healthy economy, the desire of so many to visit here and buy homes here, how much change should we be contemplating? Changes, particularly in zoning and use, can radically affect the nature and ambience of a beautiful small town. Not overnight, but incrementally. I ask my friends and former neighbors to be highly cognizant of this fact when pondering any planning proposal on a Town Warrant. Remember what those before us gave us. A gift. A gift that is fragile, precious and needs to be nourished and maintained. It is our responsibility to do the same for the next generation.
30-foot wall of mud as multiple trees collapsed in a recent windstorm. Photo: Patrick White.
Let's Start a Conversation About Our Trees
by Patrick White
After a recent severe storm, several mature hemlocks collapsed in tandem, creating a wall of now-frozen mud that reaches nearly 30 feet tall (see photo above). Imagine if this stand fell toward your home.
Below, you will see a picture of one of our mature Hemlocks at town-owned Ice Glen. It is estimated to be 250-300 years old, meaning that as John Sergeant roamed these woods with his newly-made Mohican friends, he might easily have passed this sapling in his midst.
Ice Glen is an Old-Growth forest: it has never been logged. Old-Growth expert Bob Leverett tells me it contains the oldest-known Hemlocks in Massachusetts and the tallest in all of New England. It also contains ancient White Ash, Pine and other species. Some of these trees are estimated to be 500 years old, making them contemporaries of Henry VIII, King of England.
And yet, for the first time in half a millenium, these trees are threatened by newly-arrived pests. Anyone with a yard in Stockbridge has witnessed the mass die-off of White Ash trees due to the Ash Bore, and Woolly Adelgid is starting to attack and kill the Berkshire's Hemlocks. We've already witnessed in our lifetimes the die-off of Elms and Chestnuts. Are these magnificent stands the next to go? How will climate change exacerbate these problems?
On Wednesday, I hope to spend the day, weather permitting, with Bob and two other internationally-renowned tree experts to evaluate this forest. They are volunteering their time to assess the state of this forest and recommend whether the town should inoculate these trees to save them. That's the good news: there is tree medicine you can inject into the tree that kills these pests, giving us a way to potentially save these stands for generations to come.
The Town has recently received a grant to develop a plan to mitigate our vulnerabilities to climate change. Following acceptance of the plan by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stockbridge can apply for funding to implement the priority actions. Over the next few months, we will be engaging many of you in this process. If you would like to learn more, give me a call at 413-441-5231 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: Patrick White is a selectman in Stockbridge.
At up to 300 years old, John Sergeant was a contemporary of this Ice Glen Hemlock. Photo: Bob Leverett.
THE LAST WORD
Reader to Reader: We Got Mail
I want to make sure that residents and officials understand my role in town at the moment. I am the Chair of the Green Communities Committee — our mandate is 'narrow': to help the town reduce energy as part of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Resources (DOER) Green Communities program. For example, the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) lighting, exploration of streetlighting and reporting are all part of this.
The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program (MVP) is completely different. Michael Canales is managing this project, and I am serving as a core committee team member. Please clarify as appropriate in Stockbridge Updates.
Thanks for your email. Happy to clarify or add to a SU report anytime. And thanks for all you do.
To submit an opinion piece, contribute or make a suggestion, contact: email@example.com
If you missed an issue or want to look at back issues, go to: our archive page. Stockbridge Updates — pass it on.