As of November, 2016:
From its inception in 2013, the Land Conservation Committee, now with 25 resident members, has worked with Lathrop management to accomplish the following:
- FIFTY ACRES FREE OF INVASIVE PLANTS: Since 2014, in our “Free Fifty” project, we have removed invasives, or nearly completed a 3-year removal process, from a total of 50 acres of forested land on both our campuses. These forests were being invaded by Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, common and glossy buckthorn, winged euonymus, shrub honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet, and other invasive plants that severely reduce the land’s capacity to support wildlife. The work of our wonderful contractor, Polatin Ecological Services, was augmented by the efforts of twenty-eight volunteers.
- NEW INITIATIVE FOR OUR BROOKS: In 2016, we began a major effort to remove invasive plants along our brooks on both campuses.
- 1000 ATTACK BEETLES: In June, 2016, we released onto our land 1,000 galerucella beetles to control invasive purple loosestrife
- 1000 HOURS BY 28 RESIDENT VOLUNTEERS: In committee-sponsored work shifts, and on their own, 28 residents have spent more than 1000 hours pulling up garlic mustard and using tree saws and loppers to chop down invasive buckthorn, multiflora rose, honeysuckle, huge bittersweet vines as thick as your wrist, winged euonymus, and others. Then, using the safest herbicide available, they painstakingly painted the cut stumps, thus minimizing collateral damage. These efforts supported the many days that our wonderful contractor, Polatin Ecological Services, spent removing invasives on our land.
- RESIDENT STEWARDS: Twelve residents are committed as “stewards,” each responsible for a chosen portion of our land. A steward periodically observes his/her plot, appreciating its beauty, identifying invasives, and then reporting to the group.
- FOUR GRANTS TOTALING $19,000: Kendal Charitable Funds (2 grants); Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and City of Northampton Community Preservation Act.
- $28,055 RESIDENT DONATIONS
- TWENTY-EIGHT WALKS AND PRESENTATIONS: bird walks and nature walks, walks to train resident land stewards, a walk to decide where to put kestrel nesting boxes, rides onto the land in our electric car for residents with limited mobility, 6 resident work days, as well as presentations on topics such as the natural history of Lathrop land, resident photos of wildlife on our land, why and how to fight invasives, and how to use native plants in our townhome gardens
- FEWER CHEMICALS: we reduced pesticides and herbicides on our land, and stopped their use in our farm fields so as to position them for future organic farming
- WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY FIELDS: changed our schedule of mowing and bushwhacking our fields so as to be more wildlife-friendly
- SOLAR: investigated the potential for mounting solar panels on some of our land
- NATIVE PLANTS: Five residents have added native plants to their townhome gardens.
- STRATEGIC PLAN: Drafted a “Land Management Plan” for Lathrop that will be considered by Board of Directors
- TRAILS: Designated trails and published a trail map
- BLOG AND NEWSLETTER: Established this blog and a regular column on Lathrop Land in the community’s weekly newsletter, the Lamp Post.
- COMPOST: Began work to enable residents to compost their garden clippings
- CONSERVING LAND: Explored the possibility of permanently conserving more of our land
- BIRDS: We have begun a public list, in our common lobby, of birds sighted by residents
- RECOGNITION: We have received the Massachusetts “Governor’s Citation in recognition of your conservation and protection of ecological and native habitats” (2015). We are certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat. Our work has been featured in several publications, including the October 2016 issue of Green Living and several issues of our local newspapers. Committee chair Walvoord was interviewed about our work on Boomer Generation Radio in Philadelphia. Walvoord and the committee’s work were chosen for the “Be The Difference Celebration Board” at the 2016 annual meeting of Leading Age, whose members include more than 6,000 agencies that provide services to elders.