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The Dying Trees – III

We returned this week to Quabbin Park, in Belchertown and Ware, Massachusetts to continue exploring the story of the dying Red Pines in New England Forests.  Just to recap, Quabbin Park is the more or less officially designated visitors area for the Quabbin Reservation, home of the massive and wonderful reservoir that sustains much of eastern Massachusetts.  The accidental wilderness there was created in part by the rebirth of natural forests once farming there ceased, but also by the planting of millions of pine trees to aide in the natural filtration of the water.  In places, the population is quite mono-species and as such, is vulnerable to infection.  Invasive species moving north as the climate warms attack, the forests, the most notorious being bittersweet, that overwhelming vine that is now common place in our forests, draping itself around the trees.  (Think back, if you’re a New Englander, it mostly wasn’t there when you were a kid.  I’m from Virginia and it wasn’t even a big deal there.)

The second most obvious invasive species in the Quabbin area is Red Pine Needle Scale, on loan from Pennsylvania and further south.  It attacks Red Pine trees only but makes really quick work of them. Here’s the forest near the Winsor Dam spillway.  Three years ago, these pines were all nice and green.

The stand of Red Pines along the red side of the road, for about 100 yards or more in, is now dead.  It clearly has become a potential safety hazard, and the Division of Conservation and Recreation who managers the land in the Reservation is now taking those trees down. I’m going to switch to black and white imagery here, as, at least for me, it captures more of the mood of the work in process. Things begin to get a bit otherworldly.

They are making progress it seems.  This is seriously difficult work, requiring heavy equipment and traversing some challenging landscapes.

Your taxes and water bills at work…  As I’ve stated in previous posts though, I don’t see that there is any choice here.  We should keep in mind though that to the extent climate change or other human actions play a role in these species migrations, our bill will continue to rise.

That being said, life goes on, sometimes in spite of our best efforts.

Stephen Gingold Exhibition in Amherst

More photography is coming but I wanted to give a special shout out about an upcoming exhibition. Those of us who love and photograph in central and western New England have an opportunity to view some terrific work by photographer Stephen Gingold, in Amherst, MA, this coming October. You’ll find his web site here.  The exhibition will take place at the Burnett Gallery in the Jones LIbrary in Amherst from October 2 – 20, 2012.  The opening reception will be held there on October 4, from 5 – 8 PM.  Highly recommended.

Just Like Back in the Day

Wandering through a city the age of Worcester, Massachusetts is often a fascinating experience.  Sometimes a bit depressing, true, but just as often uplifting.  It can also, however, throw some history at you when you least expect it.   Last week (September 16, 2012 to be specific) on a side street near the campus of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, I came across the following plaque, embedded out in the sidewalk.

I doubt that too many of you will understand the reference but the Work Projects Administration, or WPA for short, was an agency of the Federal Government of the United States, established in 1935 during the Great Depression.  It was renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939).  You can read the Wikipedia background here if you’re interested, it’s fairly accurate I think (though it actually misspells the name of the agency, putting an S onto Work, which according to Federal records is not accurate).  In essence, the WPA spent billions of dollars on public projects to put people back to work.  It was enormously successful and lasted until 1943 when the War effectively ended the last vestiges of the depression.  If you inquire of those who were adults during the Depression, they will most certainly know about the WPA and many will have been touched by the opportunities it created, for paid work to put it simply.  In addition, roads, parks, libraries, and a range of other projects, like sidewalks, were also left in its wake.  I am quite impressed that the work done back then still stands, or rather sits, apparently in decent shape.  Seventy plus years is a long time for a sidewalk.

Back then, as now, it was seen by the majority as an effort to help, and by some, largely privileged, as creeping socialism.  It is interesting that some people fear the process of a society taking care of its business in an organized fashion.  Note, that when the threat dissipated, the program went away.  But, some things don’t change. The fear persists in spite of the reality.  Luckily, the majority still does in fact believe in society getting it’s act together as a group, and doing something during periods such as the one we are hopefully leaving.  For that, and for those who want to help, I am very grateful.