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Environmental Committee
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Below are links you may find to be of interest:
updated August 18, 2016
 
Environmental sites:
 
  • Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (Mass Wildlife)

  • Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force (Department of Environmental Protection)
             and
             and

  • Massachusetts Environnmental Police and Environmental Strike Force contact info

              Massachusetts Environmental Police phone contacts & addresses, including Springfield area:

  • Massachusetts Environmental Police on FaceBook

  • Mass Audubon
             http://www.massaudubon.org/
 
  • Mittineague Park - lots of great photos (July 2016 main website mittineague.com isn't working.  This is the pdf version)

  • Mittineague Park - wikipedia

  • New England National Scenic Trail (also known as the Metacomet Monadnock Trail / M&M Trail)

  • A 2013-2014 report by Harvard Forest, Harvard University:  Scenarios for the future of the Massachusetts Landscape
             AND


* Owl sounds of owls found in Massachusetts  
   The Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl are often heard at dusk or night in Bear Hole
   AND
   Info about owls found in New England  click here for owls of New England  

* Sounds of Insects.  Clicking on the categories on the left of the site will introduce you to various insect sounds.

*  MA Wildlife guide to animal tracks

* Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center (animal tracking and nature programing)
This link has info about the center's programs as well as images of animal tracks

   Walnut Hill trackers, tracking a black blear.  NECN video
 

* Boston Museum of Science - "Firefly Watch":  citizens nationwide report sightings of fireflies

Firefly populations in Massachusetts are changing.  In North America there are about 175 species of fireflies. 

You can help document firefly populations by going to this site:   https://www.mos.org/fireflywatch/ 

 

  • Mass Wildlife is asking residents to report colonies of 10 or more bats.  The state is trying to get baseline info on where bats are and
    how big they are.  Residents who have bat colonies on their properties should call 508-389-6360 or e-mail:  mass.wildlife@state.ma.us - include your address, in what type of structure the bats are living and roughly how many bats are living there.  Contacting the state assists in research data only.  The state does not do bat removal.

Health themed sites:

* Tick disease info for Massachusetts:  Tick disease info
 
* Tick identification reference for Massachusetts: MA Tick ID
              
Government info on healthy living via the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services:  https://healthfinder.gov


* 2013 Bear Hole proposal  
This Tighe & Bond report highlights pursuits that were being considered by former mayor Greg Neffinger: 

Maps:

*  2012 topographical map.  Bear Hole falls within two USGS quadrangles.  The Mount Tom Quardrangle
contains the southern tip of the reservoir northbound & the West Springfield Quadrangle covers below the reservoir's southern tip southbound.  The light green indicates forested lands.  These maps & other topo maps can be obtained for free via http://www.pickatrail.com:    MA_Mount_Tom.pdf           MA_West_Springfield.pdf

 * M&M Trail / New England National Scenic Trail.  This map isn't 110% accurate with the roads/parking at Bear Hole's
outskirts via Bear Hole Road.  It does show some general Bear Hole trails as well.    NENST map

*  M&M Trail Interactive map.  You can zoom in different base layers and overlays.
The Metacomet / Monadnock trail spans the entire length of Bear Hole and offers interesting hiking and awesome
views along the ridge of East Mountain:  M&M Interactive Map

*  Mittineague Park map.  This map does not show trails on the park's peninsula.:

*  Mittineague Park topo map.  Can also scroll up to Bear Hole too.  Switch between topo view and satellite view.

*  Bear Hole M&M Trail (New England National Scenic Trail).  The M&M (Metacomet-Monadnock Trail) Trail in Bear Hole provides hikers with two sections.  Sections 3 and 4, which are maintained by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC).  

The New England National Scenic Trail (NENST) is a 215-mile long distance hiking trail from Long Island Sound in Connecticut to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire Border, and is one of only 11 national scenic trails in the U.S. The route features classic New England landscape features across a combination of public and private land: long distance vistas with rural towns as a backdrop, agricultural lands, unfragmented forests, and large river valleys. The trail also travels through important Native American and colonial historical landmarks and highlights a range of diverse ecosystems and natural resources–traprock ridges, mountain summits, forested glades, vernal pools, lakes, streams and waterfalls. Most of the Massachusetts section of the NENST was previously known as the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, which was created through AMC volunteer efforts in the 1950's and 1960's. 

Section 3 can be accessed via Sikes Avenue in W Springfield.  Follow the road leading up to the Pioneer Valley Sportsman's Club.  About half way up on the right you can access section 3.  Look for white trail blazes.  There is no parking lot.  Parking is at the road's edge.  This is not a circuit hike, but provides variable woodland terrain and wetland zones.  You will eventually end up in Bear Hole below the Lane Quarry and above Bear Hole Reservoir.  You can continue hiking within Bear Hole's trail system or trek through to Section 4 of the M&M.  If you know where you're going, you can create a semi circuit by using Bear Hole's trails to reconnect with Section 3.  Section 4 is along the ridge of East Mountain in Bear Hole and continues into Holyoke to RT 202.  Mountainous terrain, but with awesome view towards Barnes Airport and Hampton Ponds and Snake Pond, a mountain kettle pond.  There are old airport beacon towers and an orange and white Comcast tower along the ridge.  Except for the spring season with vernal pools, water is quite limited, so if bringing your dog, it's suggested bringing water with you.  Winter on the mountain can be very rough going, but it's case by case depending on the winter we have.  It's fun to hike the trail and view a variety of animal tracks.  Fall offers awesome foliage viewing if you time your trek correctly.  You can create a circuit hike via Section 4 with mileage totaling approximately 5 1/2 to 6 miles.  Once reaching the cliff overlooking Hampton Ponds you can descend straight down.  Ashley Reservoir will be through the woods on your left.  This is a wet & swampy area.  The trail will eventually bring you into Bear Hole via the Adrenalize Trail and Cauldron Trails.  Trails are poorly marked.  Section 4 for Bear Hole / East Mountain is most easily accessed by the end of Old Holyoke Road in Westfield.  Park at the gate, walk in a short distance, you're now in W Springfield and you will see the white trail blaze on the left.  Beware...the ascent at this point is quite steep and will give you an excellent cardio workout if you don't stop.  The entire trail has white blazes (paint) on trees.  
                                   * M&M / NENST Section 4  
                                   * M&M / NENST Section 3
    

Vernal Pool resources:
 
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife certification March 2009 guidelines / form

http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/nhesp/vernal-pools/vpcert.pdf


What is a vernal pool?

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/vernal-pools/

 

Massachusetts vernal pool certification FAQs

http://www.vernalpool.org/ed-pr-02.htm

 


Bear Hole Citizens Guide

A comprehensive guide about the Bear Hole Watershed.  Authored by Chris Dunphy, a West Springfield resident.

The guide was done by Chris as a graduate level project for Westfield State University, October 2013 and has been provided for public viewing with Chris' permission.  click here: Bear Hole Citizens Guide




Historical links (general):


Picturesque Springfield and West Springfield ~ historical photos of West Springfield, including Bear Hole

under the image click "full screen"    https://archive.org/details/picturesquesprin00grav

Hampden County Registry of Deeds, Book D22: Dams File Collection (Hampden County Archive Project)
Historical records of West Springfield Dams, including the Mittineague Park dams and the contract for the reconstruction of the Bear Hole Dam in 1956 

1938 USGS topographical map (view full screen.  You can zoom in)
Shows Bear Hole, East Mountain in Bear Hole and the Ashley Reservoir area in Holyoke

1831 West Springfield map  ~ Bear Hole area is up near Ashley Ponds
At the bottom of the map click "FULLSCREEN".  You can then zoom in & pan using the toolbar at the bottom of the image.  Refocuses when zooming in.

1795 West Springfield Map & narrative (must be viewed full screen.  You can zoom in & pan around)
Shows shingle mill and cement factory in Bear Hole along current day Paucatuck Brook / Millville Road, as well as homesteads in Bear Hole & vicinity


Historical links for natural resources in town.  Part of the town's historical driving tour:

This operates off of arcgis.com.  You will see white boxes such as 3I (Bear Hole), 3J Four Corners in Bear Hole, 
3F Mittineague Park, 3G Paucatuck Meadow.  Click on the box to read historical info and view a site photo.



 
"What if I had never seen this before?  What if I knew I would never see it again?" - Rachel Carson
 

Fall at a Mittineague Park meadow