a dark-eyed junco on a snow-covered plant

Happy New Year!

Help us keep all trails clear for all to enjoy

Hopefully you are enjoying the many beautiful conservation trails that Weston has to offer. If you see branches or trees blocking the trail, please feel empowered to move them, if safe to do so. If not, just let us know and we will take care of it. The Conservation Department can be reached at 781-786-5059.

leash dogs when entering and exiting trails
Dogs must be leashed when in parking lots and when entering and exiting trails.

A New Year - New Signs

Weston’s Dog By-law (Article XX) requires that all dogs must be leashed or under voice control so they do not approach other dogs or trail users. Additional signs have been posted at various trail heads. Please respect the rules and be considerate of all who use our trails.

dogs under voice control may be unleashed trails
Dogs that are under voice control so they do not approach other dogs or trail users may be unleashed on Weston Conservation Land.
three christmas trees with food for wildlife as decorations

Continue Spreading the Holiday Cheer

Your Christmas tree may no longer have that fresh pine aroma and the needles have probably made a mess in your home. Now is the perfect time to "Decorate Your Tree for Wildlife." This Pinterest-worthy fun activity and perfect up-cycle project can help wildlife at a time when food is scarce.

Be sure to remove all of your ornaments and decorations before taking your tree out to your yard. After you find a suitable site, add edible ornaments or popcorn strings for birds and squirrels.  Most recipes call for peanut butter, fresh fruit like grapes, berries, or apples, suet, and bird seed. 

If these crafting ideas are just not your cup of tea, your tree can be recycled at the Transfer Station. Or you can support the West High School Class of 2020 by signing up to have your tree picked up for a nominal fee. Sign up by January 10.

Whichever you choose, please do not dump your tree (or anything else!) on nearby Conservation Land. That's a no-no.

dead trees are not dead, they are teeming with life

The Circle of Life

A dying or dead tree may be unsightly to some humans but many other creatures, such as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects are dependent on these trees. A tree’s ecological value continues long after the last leaf falls. Whether it still stands, is reduced to a hollowed stump, or exists as downed wood, most of its “life” occurs in a complex, intriguing, unseen world.

Imagine a time-share that is used by different species, for vastly different purposes, in every stage of its demise. No man-made structure matches the ecological usefulness of a sizable dead tree; and few living things are as overlooked and unappreciated.

A dead tree is a legacy that can take dozens of years to replace, and in many cases, it will never be. Whenever a tree is cut down needlessly and hauled away prematurely, we short-change our forests and our planet. Dead trees represent one of the finest examples of reciprocity with the environment. A study of its relationship with wildlife and organisms above and beneath the soil is a profound illustration of the fact that individuality and independence in our ecosystems is an illusion.

Learn more about the value of dead trees through the Cavity Conservation Initiative.

messy gardens are great for wildlife

Healthy Yards Make for Healthy Habitats & Could Make Less
Work for You

"Nature likes it messy" - it's what wildlife wants. Sure, we live in the 'burbs and have been acclimatized to having beautiful, manicured laws but at what cost? It's expensive, noisy, time-consuming, and can be harmful. Messy is definitely good for providing food and shelter for birds, amphibians, small mammals, and insects during the cold winter months.

The seed heads of native wildflowers provide a helpful food cache for birds all winter long. Leaf litter, mulched or left in garden beds, rot and enrich the soil and also provide places for bugs and birds to forage for food, as well as providing habitat for a variety of critters such as salamanders, snails, worms, and toads. And tree limbs can be used to create brush piles that shelter birds from lousy weather and predators. American Tree Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, and other wintering birds will appreciate the protection from the elements. Rabbits, snakes, and other wildlife also will take refuge there. You’ll find that the pile settles and decomposes over the seasons ahead, making room for next year’s additions.

Learn more about what makes for a Healthy Yard and why reducing your lawn is beneficial to you and nature, as well as why planting native matters and how using invasive plants can be detrimental.

ski tracks in the snow

Winter Trail Etiquette

This winter, get outdoors for some fresh air and peace and quiet while you explore Weston’s 100 miles of conservation trails and the new Mass Central Rail Trail. When the snow is right, take your cross-country skis, fat tire bike, or snowshoes out on our shared-use trails and please follow these winter trail courtesies so all can enjoy this short, yet special season.

  • Walk/snowshoe and bike next to tracks that skiers have laid out. Footprints and bike ruts spoil the tracks
  • If you posthole or fall, repair the divot
  • If you are on a fat bike and are leaving a rut deeper than an inch or having a hard time riding in a straight line, the snow is too soft for riding
  • Remember, bikes yield to skiers and everyone yields to horses
  • Dog walkers pick up dog poop. Don’t pollute the snow or trails with this visually off-putting waste. Please respect other trail users and our wildlife
Need some guidance on what type of winter traction is needed and when? The Appalachian Mountain Club has you covered.

happy dog with license

Dog Licenses Expired December 31

State law requires all dogs over 6 months of age to be licensed and tagged. Renewals can be done through the mail, in person, or online. Please visit Weston.org/DogLicense for additional information. Proof of rabies vaccination is required when renewing the license.

a cedar waxwing in the winter eating berries
Did we mention that planting native and being lazy with fall lawn care has tremendous benefits to wildlife? It also has tremendous benefits to you! Just look at this stunning Cedar Waxwing. A Dark-eyed Junco, a ground-dwelling bird, is featured in the top banner.

Like what you see?

We love feedback. We really do. These newsletters are for you, after all. Let us know if you'd like to see additional topics covered in these quarterly releases. Contact webmaster@westonmass.org

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