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The Friends first meeting took place May 3, 2007. We should take a look at what we have accomplished together over the last ten years. <a>”Forest Friends come out of the woodwork”</a> is an article reviewing the first meeting.
Forest Friends Come out of the Woodwork”
By Erin Doherty, Plymouth
Sharl Heller knew the Myles Standish State Forest had some behind-the-scenes friends, but she wasn’t prepared for just how many.
Approximately 35 outdoor enthusiasts turned out for the first meeting of the newly-formed Friends of Myles Standish State Forest group last Thursday, May 3, at the “barn” near MSSF headquarters on Cranberry Road in South Carver.
Heller, an avid hiker in the forest, started the group last month, with the aid of Robert (Bob) MacKenzie, Supervisor of MSSF, and Margie Lynch, Director of Partnerships for Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
“I called Bob after I got lost on one of the trails, to ask if the Forest had a group of volunteers who helped out,” Heller explained.
When MacKenzie replied that there wasn’t, Heller began to set things in motion.
“I thought the forest looked a bit unloved, and offered to start a Friends group,” she said. “Bob said that he’d wanted to see one started for years, and put me in touch with Margie Lynch at the DCR. The very next week we met and planned the group.”
Apparently Heller isn’t the only one who’s been concerned about the declining condition of the forest. Though she only had time to get the word out to a few organizations before the meeting, the news of a friends committee forming spread like wildfire. The result was a spectacular showing that spanned several communities and a plethora of user interests.
“The enthusiasm and support [of Bob and Margie] gave me courage, so I scheduled the first meeting. But I was really only expecting about six people to show up. I was totally overwhelmed by the turnout!” Heller said.
A reality of the relatively unregulated forest environment is that users with often conflicting interests must learn to share the same area. Hikers, bikers, motorbikers, horseback riders, campers, swimmers, fishermen, kayakers, skiers, and hunters all lay claim to some part of the forest. And they don’t always appreciate feeling the presence of some of the others. The Friends group hopes to help resolve these tensions.
Thursday evening Heller and MacKenzie skillfully moved through a full agenda that included discussion on cleaning up trees and brush resulting from recent storms; mapping out trails; placing clearer trail markers; and forming an on-call volunteer work crew to help with general maintenance. The continuing unauthorized ORV problem generated the most heat.
“Allowing or not allowing ORV’s in the Forest will not be an issue for us. As a Large Tract Forest Reserve, the MSSF is off limits to ORV’s. What is an issue is the illegal use of these vehicles. We will try to have a representative from the Environmental Police address the ORV problem at our next meeting,” Heller said.
By the end of the evening, five subcommittees had been formed to work on publicity, mapping out/marking hiking trails, cleaning up equestrian trails, designating work crews, and forming a 501(c) non-profit status.
The first official event of the Friends group will be to assist the DCR with Park Serve Day on Sat., May 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. All those interested should meet at the MSSF Headquarters parking lot on Cranberry Road in South Carver.
Work will be done on the Easthead Nature Trail around East Head Reservoir. Bring work gloves, rakes, lunch, and water. Please leave pets and small children at home. Friends of MSSF and the DCR will provide some light snacks.
The next Friends meeting is scheduled for June 7 at 7 p.m. at the “barn”, MSSF Headquarters.
For more information or to join the Friends, contact Sharl Heller at (508)xxx-xxxx or [masked]; or call the MSSF Headquarters at (508) 866-2526. You can check out their blog at http://mylesstandish.blogspot.com/, or their web site at http://www.friendsmssf.com. Friends has a Yahoo Group Site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/friends_of_MSSF/
Friends of MSSF is a volunteer citizen advocacy group in partnership with the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation.
At the May 2017 board meeting, we hope you will take a look back at the Friends many accomplishments over the years and help us think about priorities going forward.
After that, we will briefly review the AMC open house (cosponsored by the Friends) which brought more than 100 people to the forest, many for the first time, to experience hikes, bike rides, nature and birding walks and trail work. We will also firm up plans for our membership mailing and annual meeting, the 4th Annual Pine Fest and ongoing plans for trail work.
The Friends of MSSF welcome anyone who uses Myles Standish State Forest to attend the monthly board meetings. Each of the board members is a representative of one (or more) of the many different user groups in the forest:
• cross-country skiers
• wildlife observers
• cottage owners
• hunters and fishers
We cooperate to help make the forest a better place.
If you have a topic or ideas that you want to share at our board meeting, please contact Bill Vickstrom ([masked]) to get on our agenda.
For additional information on the Friends of Myles Standish State Forest, please visit our website at http://www.friendsmssf.com