Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A Late Summer Note from SCT President John Cullity

Dear Members and Friends,

     I hope you have had a good summer, with a share of recreation, fun, and relaxing moments with family, friends and, nature.  It has been hard listening to the news, with so much strife, wild fires, flooding, and displacement taking place around the planet.  Compared to these, this summer on Cape Cod has been easy to take, and we have been given time to observe, consider, and plan for transitional experiences that could come our way.  A valuable counterpoise to the bad news for many of us is quiet time spent outdoors, perhaps in the nearest conservation area, whether beachfront, pond front, field, or forest.  This can bring us an opportunity to reflect and find moments of peace.

     Regardless of whether part of climate change or not, what characteristics or changes have you noticed in your back yard or neighborhood?  Here are a few observations from my neck of the woods:  It did not seem to be a big year for some insects, such as June bugs, fireflies, moths and even mosquitos, (until recently!)  Butterflies have been in fair supply.  There seem to be fewer ticks, but stay vigilant!  Spiders are doing very well, in kinds and numbers. Raccoons and rodents are abundant; skunks and woodchucks scarce.  We hear more and more about fisher cats. We’ve all seen more rabbits than anyone can recall, and we’ve heard the high-pitched yowling of coywolves at night.

     The abundant but mostly gentle precipitation has benefited vegetable and flower gardens, but roadside vegetation, poison ivy and the so-called invasives are thicker and more vigorous than ever.  Some kinds of trees are not doing so well, however, and perhaps the most tragic condition unfolding is beech leaf disease.  Beech trees, whether in a forest grove or as stately giants in a park or next to an old sea captain’s mansion, are very seriously threatened.  Efforts are underway to help the situation, but it doesn’t look good. 

     More observations of changes in the usual natural patterns can be given, but there is this positive takeaway:  Cape Cod does have a treasury of preserved lands of all sorts, serving as habitat and water protection, and available to the public.  If we choose to do so we can easily find pleasure and interest away from busy lives and screens by simply visiting these lands.  Observing nature or just sitting or standing quietly, we can relax, find interest, and therapy, too.

     Now, down to some business thoughts, specifically about the Sandwich Conservation Trust:  our Board of Trustees and I wish to thank everyone who has contributed to help our non-profit carry on with the work of preserving and maintaining natural land!  Members, long-time and recently joined, have contributed generously this year, and we are heartened and inspired by this.

     We also have a list of members who have offered to volunteer in some way.  We are very grateful for that, but please be patient with us if we have not called on you – we will soon. 

     A final thought:  we like to think that non-profits such as ours not only serve our stated purpose, we help, in a small way, to build community, by getting to know each other during events.  For our organization, nature walks and fun, educational meetings are some of the ways to achieve this.  Here are the SCT’s fall offerings:

Sunday, September 10th 2 pm – Maple Swamp Walk 

SCT President John Cullity will lead a walk in this large preserve which will last 1 to 1 ½ hours.  Though there is a maple swamp or two, we will mostly experience the dramatic hills and hollows of the glacial moraine, with interpretation of flora, fauna, and historic land use.  Learn about Sam Nye’s Mountain, Zene Wright’s Swamp and Moody Fish’s Bottom! This is a strenuous hike with steep slopes and occasional roots and loose gravel.  Please do not bring pets.  The walk will be cancelled if it is raining.  The entrance to the Maple Swamp Conservation Lands is off Service Road, half way between Chase and Quaker Meetinghouse Roads.  If there are questions call 508-888-7629.


Sunday, October 8th 2pm – Fungi Foray (Location to be announced) 

Dr. Lawrence Millman will lead a small group exploration of fungi that can be spotted at a Sandwich conservation area.  There is a limit of 20 participants. Call 508-888-7629 to register.  A $5 donation will be collected at the walk site.

Author-mycologist Lawrence Millman has written 20 books, including such titles as Last Places, At the End of the World, A Kayak Full of Ghosts, Fungipedia, Fascinating Fungi of New England, and — most recently — The Last Speaker of Bear. He has documented fungi in such places as the Canadian Arctic, Bermuda, Iceland, Nantucket, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. He has a fungal species named after him (Inonotus millmanii), and in 2006 he found a species (Echinodontium ballouii) that was presumed to be extinct. He lives in Cambridge, MA. As a mycologist, he has studied fungi all over the world, but especially in his own backyard of New England.


SCT Annual Meeting  Sunday, October 29th, 2 pm 

Members and the public are invited to meet at the East Sandwich Grange Hall (part of the Nye Museum) at 91 Old County Rd.  The SCT business meeting will run until 2:30, at which time Mark Robinson, Executive Director of the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts will speak on “Saving the Cape: A History of Land Conservation of Cape Cod”, a unique and interesting talk by someone who has “been in the thick” of land conservation work for 37 years.  Mark is a great speaker, don’t miss it.  Refreshments will be served.  For questions about this event or the walks call 508-888-7629.

Yellow garden spider

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sandwich Conservation Trust Spring Newsletter 2023

The Spring Newsletter was mailed to SCT Members a few weeks back. The feature story by our President, John Cullity, tells the fascinating history of Spring Hill Marsh.

You can access the newsletter here.  

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Osborne-Sherman Work Day

Osborne-Sherman Work Day

The December weather outside was frightful so the work day at the Osborne-Sherman property was called off at the last minute. Some of us arrived to let folks know of the new plan but we had people there who wanted to work and the rain was tapering off. With the help of pruning shears, loppers, a gas-powered hedge trimmer and our new brush cutter, SCT trustees and six members set out trim back the vegetation along the fence. We also replaced some split rail fencing. Despite the adverse conditions, a great deal of work was accomplished.

Elinor's Woods also received some attention that day by our satellite work party. Two members cut up and cleared trees which had fallen across Deer Pass and Thorn Way.

Thank you to our volunteers who graciously donated their time to help maintain SCT properties.

Downed trees obstructing path at Elinor's Woods

Elinor's Woods after tree clearing

Elinor's Woods after tree clearing

Preparing the tools at Osborne-Sherman

Post-hole digging at Osborne-Sherman

Setting a new fence rail at Osborne-Sherman

Setting a new fence rail at Osborne-Sherman

Setting a new fence rail at Osborne-Sherman

Gathering brush from the upper fence at Osborne-Sherman

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Happy Holidays 2022

Dear Members and Friends;

The Trustees of the Sandwich Conservation Trust wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season with family fun, good food, warmth and generosity. We thank you for your continued support in doing what we love, land preservation.

With appreciation,

The Trustees of the Sandwich Conservation Trust:

John Cullity, Cliff Irving, Brian Kelly, Steven Touloumtzis, Nancy McHugh, Jack Vaccaro, Robert O’Connor, Peter Thomas, Lynn Cullity and Joe Queenan

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

SCT Work Party, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 at 9 a.m. at the Osborne-Sherman Conservation Area

The Trustees of The Sandwich Conservation Trust are planning to conduct a Fall/Winter Work Party to tidy up and improve the SCT’s Osborne-Sherman Conservation Area, 15 Gully Lane Saturday, December 10, 2022, beginning at 9 a.m. We need volunteer help. We will meet at the entrance to the Preserve on Gully Lane, East Sandwich.

Most of the work consists of cutting back grass, brambles, rosa rugosa, briars, sumac, bittersweet and poison ivy overgrowing the area’s edges. It’s basically a woodland jungle. The ground is damp and uneven in places. Working out in the elements requires the right apparel. Long pants and sturdy shoes, which can afford to get muddy, are necessary. Tick prevention is also necessary.

Weather is predicted to be cloudy, with high temperatures in the low 40’s, thus the morning temps may be only in the high 30’s. Additionally it is predicted to be windy, about 15 – 20 mph, with gusts 25 – 28 mph, so dress accordingly.

Unfortunately, the Trust does not have any of the necessary tools for this project and we are asking if you can volunteer, to also please bring your own tools. We suggest hand equipment such as gloves, pruning shears, pruning saws and loppers.

Bring a full water bottle.

Please contact joe.queenan@Comcast.net or Cliff Irving, 2hike@Comcast.net for additional information.

Thank you

Joe Q.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Sandwich Conservation Trust Annual Meeting

Dear Members and Friends,

The Sandwich Conservation Trust will hold its annual meeting at 2 PM, Sunday, November 6, 2022, at the East Sandwich Grange Hall, 91 Old County Rd., East Sandwich, MA. A brief meeting will include re-election of Trustees Clifford Irving, Brian Kelly, Steven Touloumtzis, Joseph Queenan and Robert O’Connor. Immediately following the meeting, Trust President, and local Sandwich Historian, John Cullity, will present an illustrated talk on “The History of the Old Sandwich Game Farm.” This beautiful and diverse property is currently managed by the Thornton W. Burgess Society with walking trails open to the public.

There will be a $10 admission charge for non-members to attend the program. SCT tea towels will be for sale ($15) at the entrance/check-in table or a free towel with a new membership sign-up.

For more information, please contact:

            John Cullity 508-888-7629                                                          Joe Queenan 508-833-0861

Friday, October 7, 2022

Sandwich Conservation Trust Walk at the Maple Swamp Conservations Lands, Sunday, October 9

The Sandwich Conservation Trust invites you to walk the hills and hollows of the Maple Swamp Conservation Lands on Sunday, October 9th at 2 PM. The walk will be led by SCT President John N. Cullity, who will provide historic as well as nature-based interpretation. The walk is free.

The Maple Swamp is the largest town-owned conservation preserve in Sandwich, roughly 770 acres, consisting of thirty-odd parcels owned mostly by the town, but also the Sandwich Water District and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. It is a place of dramatic topography, created by the southern movement of the glacier when it stopped around 18,000 years ago, leaving what is referred to as a glacial moraine.

In the early days of Sandwich settlement, this uneven land was divided into 20 to 40 acre woodlots, providing timber and fuel for the coastal farms. The name “Maple Swamp” goes back over 200 years, and refers to several acres of wetland in one of the big hollows. Preservation began in 1966, when the town purchased several of the woodlots from the Society of Friends – the Quakers.

The walk will last about an hour-and-a-half, and is rather strenuous in places, with steep slopes, occasional roots and loose stones. If it rains the walk will be cancelled. To join us, meet at the Maple Swamp Conservation Lands parking lot off of Service Road between Quaker Meetinghouse Road and Chase Road – now Rt. 6 Exits 61 and 63.

The Sandwich Conservation Trust is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 for the purpose of preserving undeveloped land in Sandwich. If you have questions about the SCT or the walk, call Mr. Cullity at (508) 888-7629.