The Brown Bag Workshops are designed as small, informal meetings or outings where we discuss technical issues of importance to municipal conservation, participate in conservation and restoration efforts, or review existing and proposed state and federal regulations and guidelines pertaining to wetlands protection. We generally try to meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month, but be sure to check the date of the event in which you are interested.
August 26, 2021 Summer Conservation Land Tour – Wilbraham and Northampton
Join Melissa Graves in Wilbraham on a leisurely hike down to 12 Mile Brook crossing a new 45’ pedestrian bridge and into the recently cut pitch pine. In the afternoon, join Sarah LaValley in Northampton, to visit a former 18-hole golf course which was acquired in 2019, and added to the City’s newest conservation greenway! For more information and to register click here (feel free to share this with your commission members and colleagues!)
July 28, 2021 Summer Outdoor Tours of Conservation Lands: Weston and Bolton MA
Join Michele Grzenda and Rebecca Longvall to visit one or both conservation areas. In Weston, we will learn about Weston’s first accessible trail (design, permitting, construction), field management, swallow-wort woes, ecological management planning, dog rules, kiosk and signage abc’s. Walk will be 1 – 1.5 hours and then people can stick around for potluck picnic/networking. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Bolton and learn about land conservation planning across town borders/connectivity, land donations, trails, and outreach. For more information and to register click here
May 19, 2021 Meet Kathy Baskin, MassDEP’s Bureau of Water Resources Assistant Commissioner
Are you still wondering what MassDEP is proposing for the updated Stormwater and proposed Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage Regulations? Wonder no more! Join us as Kathy Baskin, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Water Resources Assistant Commissioner provides an update. Rumor has it that the draft regulations are around the corner! For more information and to register click here
April 28, 2021 Farming in Wetland Resource Areas
Do you find yourself confused by the single longest definition in the Wetlands Protection Act Regulations, “Agriculture”? Join Mark Stinson, DEP Circuit Rider, as he helps us navigate agricultural activities of this commonly misunderstood and misapplied section of the regulations and current issues facing commissions. Click here For more information and to register
March 24, 2021 Caterpillars the Whole Story: Caterpillars, Connections, & Why Biodiversity Matters
Visiting us directly from The Caterpillar Lab’s museum space, Sam Jaffe will utilize a combination of live presentation, digital microscopy, slides, and life history image plates. Through amazing visuals and a fascinating narrative, Sam will delve deeply into the world of native caterpillars. By exploring complex natural history stories involving caterpillars, their host plants, and their predators and parasitoids, the true scope and importance of biodiversity will be revealed. This visually stunning presentation will go beyond established narratives of biological interactions and will help guide us in our efforts to support and promote local biodiversity. Click here for more information and to register.
February 17, 2021 Walk through Heritage Hub
MassWildlife’s Heritage Hub is Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) recent relaunch, and complete system overhaul, of the former Vernal Pool & Rare Species (VPRS) reporting system which shutdown at the end of 2020. The Heritage Hub system includes many of the same features and functions, but delivered in a new way to enhance the user experience. Join this zoom to learn all about the new features and functions. Click here for more info and to register
January 27, 2021 Environmental Law Developments and Adjudicatory Updates
Gregor McGregor, Esq. of the Boston law firm McGregor & Legere, PC will make a presentation on developments during 2020 in environmental law generally and wetland protection law in particular, in court cases and otherwise. His slide show will hit the high points useful or essential for ConComs and staff to know. It appears that even during Covid-19 shutdowns and slowdowns since March 1 there have been significant changes in jurisprudence worth noting. Click here for more information and to register.
November 18, 2020 Updates to the Stormwater Handbook
As most of you are aware, DEP has appointed a Stormwater Advisory Committee to review the elements of the 2008 Stormwater Handbook and update it, along with the WPA, to reflect current conditions, including the adoption of a more recent set of rainfall data. Additional changes will be proposed to align the Handbook requirements with those of the MS4 permit. Laura Schifman (DEP Stormwater Coordinator),Tom Maguire and Lisa Rhodes (the MassDEP Wetlands Program) will give a presentation about the status of the process currently underway. Click here for more information and to register.
October 28, 2020 Intro to GIS: How to make maps for your conservation office
Maps are an important tool in helping us to visualize and analyze the world around us, but creating them from scratch can be intimidating and stressful. Join Stefanie Farrington, Environmental Permitting Assistant for DCR, for an easy and approachable introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This Brown Bag will focus on the conservation applications of map-making, how to import data from other sources or create your own, and a few basic analyses. By the end of the session you should be able to clearly show the limits of a buffer zone, designate which properties fall within your jurisdiction for permitting, and create an interesting visual for engaging with the public in your open spaces. Click here for more information and to register.
September 23, 2020 The Art of Wildlife Tracking with George Leoniak
Join us for the Art of Tracking and learn the techniques used to identify and interpret wildlife tracks and signs. This interactive online presentation will increase your awareness and ability to see and discover wildlife signs on any outing into the natural world, providing you with the confidence needed to make well educated interpretations of your discoveries. This presentation offers an exciting opportunity to dive deep into learning the skills of tracking while using our modern technology to share this ancient art, enriching our sense of connection with each other and those mysteries that await us in the forests, fields and wetlands. Click here for more info and to register.
August 12, 2020 Rail Vegetation Management: A Guide for Conservation Commissions
Keolis manages more than 700 miles of track in Massachusetts across 5,000+ acres in 99 municipalities. Clary Coutu, the Director of Environmental Services, Compliance and Sustainability at Keolis, will discuss Keolis’ Vegetation Management Plan. She will provide an overview of the Rights-of-Way Management Permit Process, Integrated Vegetation Management (mechanical management as well as chemical applications). and outline opportunities for public comments on the plan. RDAs are submitted to more than 99 towns – here is a chance to understand how to provide comments on the plans, and learn more about railroad operations. Why is it important for MSMCP members to participate in this Brown Bag presentation? This is a chance for commissions to understand the intersection of railroad vegetation management plans and the Wetlands Protection Act. Bring your questions.(after the talk, we can update folks a little bit on the latest Covid Orders and DEP Drought advisory affecting Con Coms. Click here for more info and to register.
July 15, 2020 Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide
Join Peter Del Tredici from Arnold Arboretum as he talks about the second edition of his book,Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide (Cornell Univ. Press). Urban ecosystems are the ultimate manifestation of the dynamic conflict between humans and nature—between the desire for neat, orderly landscapes on the one hand and the fear of messy ecological chaos on the other. This presentation focuses on the plants that grow without cultivation in cities and suburbs and their remarkable ability to flourish in spite of stressful environmental conditions. This spontaneous urban vegetation is as cosmopolitan as the city’s human population and, quite frankly, better adapted to our changing environmental conditions than the native species that once grew there. Like it or not, these cosmopolitan ecosystems have become the new ecological normal and people need to recognize that they are helping not only to make our cities more livable but also to clean up the mess we have made of the planet. Click here for more info and to register.