Tag Archives: Essex County Greenbelt Association


Piping Plover Eggs Good Harbor Beach Parking Lot

A second egg was laid yesterday by our Parking Lot Plover family. The second egg is an indication by the PiPl that they are committed to the nest, which means it is time to put up the wire exclosure. If the exclosure is installed earlier, the risk of the PiPl abandoning the first egg is far greater. We immediately called Essex County Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer to let him know about the second egg. 

Dave and his assistant Mike Carbone arrived early this morning to set up the exclosure. Roughly six feet in diameter and made of wire with four inch spacing, the exclosure’s four inch openings are the ideal size to let PiPl in and out, and to keep large predatory birds and small mammals from entering. With thanks and gratitude to Dave and Mike for coming so quickly to exclose the nest.


After installing the exclosure the fear is that the PiPl will abandon the nest site. Our Mama Plover returned to the nest a short time after the exclosure was installed!

And thanks again to dog officer Teagan Dolan, who stopped by to check on the Piping Plovers and has been regularly ticketing 🙂

How You Can Help the Piping Plovers

1) Under no circumstances is it acceptable for people or dogs to enter the Piping Plover nesting area.

2) Please drive slowly and cautiously when in the parking lot. Our Mama and Papa PiPl are now residing between the parking lot and nesting area #3.

3) Keep ALL dogs off the beach and out of the parking lot. The parking lot is considered part of the beach according to Gloucester Police Chief McCarthy. A Piping Plover’s brain does not differentiate between a dog on-leash versus a dog off-leash. When a dog, off-leash or on-leash, comes within twenty feet of a PiPl, they immediately stop what they are doing, whether foraging, courting, mating, nesting, or resting. Please call the following number to report any dog sightings or dog related incidences at Good Harbor Beach: 978-281-9746.

4) When observing, please bear in mind that Piping Plovers tolerate one or two quiet persons, from a distance, but crowds of three or more put them in panic mode. Large groups of people hovering near the PiPl also attracts crows and gulls, a nesting shorebird’s natural enemy because they eat both baby chicks and eggs.

5) Help spread the word about the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers.

6) Sign up to be a Piping Plover volunteer ambassador by emailing Ken Whittaker at kwhittaker@gloucester-ma.gov

Thank you, but most importantly, the Piping Plovers will thank you too when chicks hatch and chicks fledge!



Winslow Homer “The Berry Pickers”

Forum on the Cape Ann Landscapes

A thoughtful and thought provoking forum was held this morning at the Cape Ann Museum. The discussion was led by Ed Becker, president of the Essex County Greenbelt Association, with presentations by Mark Carlotto from Friends of Dogtown; Tim Simmons, restoration ecologist; Mass Audubon’s Chris Leahy; and Cape Ann Museum representative Bonnie Sontag.

cape-ann-museum-landscape-forum-panel-copyright-kim-smithSpeakers, left to right, Mark Carlotto, Chris Leahy, Tim Simmons, Bonnie Sontag, and Ed Becker 

Today, the undeveloped areas of Cape Ann look much as it did when Champlain arrived in 1606, a mostly verdant forested peninsula, with some land management of grasslands conducted by the Native Americans that farmed and fished the landscape. In the coming months, the community will be examining how to restore very specific areas of Dogtown to the years when the landscape was at its most productive and richest in biodiversity, approximately 1700 to 1950. Most areas will remain forested and others will be returned to grasslands, moors, meadows, and pastures, similar to how it appeared when 19th and 20th century artists such as Homer, Hopper, Hartley, and Brumback painted Dogtown Common.

hartley-whales-jaw-drawingMarsden Hartley Whales Jaw sketch


brumback-33406-webBrumback’s view of Dogtown in the eaqrly 1900s

pond-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithA typical Dogtown landscape of today

Tim Simmons charmed the audience with his “Blueberry Metric,” a formula whereby prior to grassland restoration, it takes approximately one hour to pick four cups of blueberries. After a blueberry patch has been restored, the time to pick a pie’s worth of blueberries is reduced to just 20 to 30 minutes. Here is Tim explaining how fire management helps blueberry bushes become more productive:

Not only blueberries but many, many species of wildlife, especially those in sharp decline, such as Prairie Warblers, Eastern Whippoorwills, native bees, and nearly all butterflies, will benefit tremendously from restoring native grassland and meadow habitats.

This is an exciting time for Cape Ann’s open spaces and a great deal of input from the community will be needed. A facebook page is in the making. It takes time to effect positive change, but the alternative of doing nothing is not really an option at all. Eventually a fire will occur and when landscapes are not managed well, the outcome may well be cataclysmic.



From the Cape Ann Museum: The once open landscape of Cape Ann, a mosaic of glacial boulders, pastures and moors, has given way over the past century to a uniform forest cover. Through short presentations and public engagement, this forum examines the issues, methods and benefits of restoring this formerly diverse and productive landscape. Can Cape Ann once again include the open, scenic terrain that inspired painters, writers, walkers, bird watchers and foragers of wild blueberries? Come and lend your voice to this exciting and important conversation moderated by Ed Becker, President of the Essex County Greenbelt Association. The forum is offered in collaboration with Essex County Greenbelt, Friends of Dogtown, Lanesville Community Center and Mass Audubon.forest_succession_ecology-0011
Successional forest regeneration graphics and images courtesy Google image search

Kim Smith Event for Essex County Greenbelt, Thursday March 5th: Planting An Essex County Pollinator Garden

Catbird eating Pagoda dogwwod fruits ©Kim Smith 2014. Catbird Eating Dogwood Fruits

Please join me at the Essex County Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation headquarters on Thursday, March 5th, from 6:30 to 8:30. I will be presenting my pollinator garden program. The event is free.

RSVP to alice@ecga.org.

I look forward to seeing you!

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed ©Kim Smith 2014

 Painted Lady Butterfly and New York Ironweed, Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden

From the ECGA website:

Our second session to our pollinator film/lecture series will feature local designer, writer, filmmaker and gardening expert Kim Smith. Kim specializes in creating pollinator gardens, as well as filming the butterflies that her plants attract. She will present a 90-minute slide show and lecture about how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Kim will also discuss specific ways to be sure your gardening practices are not harming pollinators. There will be time for questions from the audience about particular problems and quandaries they may have with pollinators and their gardens.

To learn more about Kim Smith’s work, visit her website here. This lecture will take place at our headquarters on the Cox Reservation in Essex, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to alice@ecga.org.

monarch-butterfly-c2a9kim-smith-2012-1Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at New England Asters

Harbor Walk Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2012Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden

Art in the Barn

This weekend the grounds at the Cox Reservation will be transformed into a sculpture park and the barn overflowing with paintings, pottery, prints, and jewelry. I stopped in last Friday to photograph sculptor Kim Radochia’s works that had earlier that day been installed along the trails and fields overlooking the Essex River.

Listen Up ~ Aluminum 7′ x 5′ x 3′

Listen Up is a delightful form, and without knowing its name, all at once reminded me of my grandfather’s victrola and a futuristic sensory receptor.

Listen Up detail

“Some are able to support Greenbelt with large gifts of land or funds, others give their artistic talent and enthusiastically volunteer their time and energy,” said Committee Chairperson, Nathalie Meyfarth.

Branching Out 

“Sculpture in any environment gives those of us participating in that experience a different perspective.  After seeing and connecting to something new your viewpoint will forever change and as an artist this is my ultimate goal,” said Kim Radoccia.

J-Birds Nest

Schedule for Art in the Barn 2012

Friday, June 15, 9:30 am to 4 pm

Wine & Cheese Reception: Friday, June 15, 6 pm to 8:30 pm

Saturday, June 16, 9:30 am to 6 pm

Sunday, June 17, 10 am to 4 pm

J-Bird’s Nest

Proceeds from the sale of all items directly support Greenbelt’s land conservation effort.

Art in the Barn June 15th – June 17th

Last year at this time Mary wrote the following request:

Hi Joey,

So many Greenbelt employees connected with Gloucester say you are THE news source on Cape Ann. We hope you can assist in publishing information about Greenbelt’s annual blockbuster – Art in the Barn…

Mary Williamson

Director of Community Engagement


See below for this year’s schedule of events:


   Artisan Showcase and Sale June –15-17 benefits Greenbelt land conservation efforts
Essex, MA, June 5, 2012: Essex County Greenbelt, the region’s premier member-supported land conservation organization will present the 23rd Annual Art in Barn artisan showcase and sale, June 15-17, at its Cox Reservation Headquarters in Essex. New to the lineup of art and jewelry exhibited this year is an outdoor sculpture walk featuring large-scale works installed along the walking trails and in the scenic fields overlooking the Essex River. “We are excited about the addition of the sculpture walk to Art in the Barn,” said Greenbelt Executive Director, Ed Becker. “Our visitors can plan to spend more time on this magnificent protected property, and gain a better understanding of Greenbelt’s land conservation work, as they stroll by or picnic near various pieces,” he continued.
For one weekend every June, the barns and grounds at the magnificent Cox Reservation are transformed with color and form as paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor, monoprints, ceramics and pottery, jewelry and sculpture in wood and iron decorate the surfaces and surroundings of this iconic property. Even the conference room within the LEED certified, “green” headquarters will be transformed into creative jewelry display space, inviting all to discover the work of over 150 participating local artisans. Proceeds from the sale of all items on exhibition directly support Greenbelt’s land conservation efforts.
The outdoor sculpture walk, featuring large-scale works by area artists such as Dale Rogers and Kim Radoccia, will offer visitors the opportunity to connect with the land that often inspires the artist. “Sculpture in any environment gives those of us participating in that experience a different perspective.  After seeing and connecting to something new your viewpoint will forever change and as an artist this is my ultimate goal,” offered regional sculptor Kim Radoccia.  Kim wanted to team up with a local environmental organization to create solutions and/or interventions in the landscape that would both educate the public and communicate a better vision towards environmental stewardship.  “I am blessed to have a deep and abiding relationship to nature and because of that connection I am able to draw endless amounts of inspiration and creativity from it.   I think it is very important to pass this on to others and build this in others” she continued.
Greenbelt welcomes the public to Art in the Barn to see and purchase the diverse work of talented artists from throughout the region, inspired by the natural landscapes and light that have drawn artists to Cape Ann and Essex County for decades. In fact, it is not unusual to see painters set up, palette in hand, on the many Greenbelt public reservations throughout the region. Often those canvases are submitted for the Art in the Barn Exhibition and Sale. “Some are able to support Greenbelt with large gifts of land or funds, others give their artistic talent and enthusiastically volunteer their time and energy,” said Committee Chairperson, Nathalie Meyfarth. “I look forward to helping Greenbelt with the Art in the Barn event because it allows me to support their important work of conserving open space and the gorgeous landscapes of Essex County in a way that involves my lifelong interest in art. It’s a lively and happy few days that brings art lovers and conservation-minded people together in a scenic location.  People thoroughly enjoy indulging themselves by buying an original piece of art while supporting a good cause,” she added.
Given its long-running popularity, Art in the Barn draws artists in every medium, and at every experience level and price point. The participating artists submit to a rigorous application and jury process for admission. The event continues to draw strong audience, with crowds often numbering 4,000 attendees over three days.  “Art in the Barn offers the public a marvelous opportunity to see and purchase the work of fine regional artists, while supporting Greenbelt’s important land conservation work,” said Beth Cooper, a long-time Art in the Barn volunteer “It’s one of many ways Greenbelt can connect people to the land and local landscapes we cherish, and one way we can take a small piece of its beauty home with us!”
The opening reception on Friday, June 15th will feature the music of Crazy Maggie, the famous Ipswich Tapmobile and delicious food from Gloucester-based caterer,  Beach Gourmet. Visitors are encouraged to allow the time to soak in the scenery, enjoy the trails and refreshments available.
Sidebar: The schedule for the Art in the Barn 2012 event is as follows:
Public Exhibit:  Friday, June 15, 9:30 am to 4 pm;
Wine & Cheese Reception: Friday, June 15, 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Public Exhibit: Saturday, June 16, 9:30 am to 6 pm
Public Exhibit: Sunday, June 17, 10 am to 4 pm
Since 1961, Greenbelt has been working with local individuals, families, farmers and communities to protect the farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic vistas of Essex County. Greenbelt has protected over 15,000 acres of local land and has had a direct role in 75% of all land conserved in the last decade.  For more information about Greenbelt programs visit www.ecga.org or call 978-768-7241

Hoe Down and Happenin’

Hoe Down & Happenin’  –  A Farm-to-Table Dinner
June 24, 4-9 pm
Celebrate summer and local food with Alchemy and friends at Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation
A slice of heaven on earth local food fans won’t want to miss…
A raw bar station sourced from local suppliers, BBQ lobster salad sliders, local caught yellow-fin, house-smoked pulled pork,Tendercrop Farm skirt steak…a table full of farm-fresh organic greens and vegetable salads, and desserts that will bring locavores to tears! And it’s all taking place on one of the longest nights of the year, within the magnificent surroundings of the Cox Reservation.
Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 24, 4-9pm, as Alchemy Bistro brings local fare with a flair to Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation with the Hoe Down & Happenin’, with proceeds to benefit Greenbelt’s local land conservation efforts.

Limited tickets:  $100.00 pp includes:

• Cocktail hour with music, raw bar, special local brews and wines
• Creative food stations presented by Alchemy Bistro and local artisanal
• Bluegrass music featuring Flynn Cohen
• Cash bar with signature cocktails, wines and local beer
Purchase tickets online or call 978-768-7241.

Free tour, Fall Festival at Greenbelt planned for Sept. 26

From the Beacon

essex greenbelt


The Essex County Greenbelt Association will host two free events on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Cox Reservation, Greenbelt’s headquarters, 82 Eastern Ave., Essex.

From 9-10:30 a.m., join Greenbelt’s Executive Director Ed Becker as he tours the meadows and marshland of the Cox Reservation. Becker will describe some of the extensive natural and human history of the reservation and will culminate the walk with a tour of the new “green” headquarters. This event is part of the Essex National Heritage Area’s Trails & Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water.

From noon to 4 p.m., Greenbelt will host the annual Fall Festival. This day of free traditional family fun features pumpkin decorating, apple cider pressing, pony rides, hayrides, face painting, farm animals, an interactive snake show, chowder tasting by Woodman’s of Essex and more.

For more information, call the Essex County Greenbelt Association at 978-768-7241.