elliston pond in the fall

For the Love of the Forests - Scoop the Poop!

We may sound like a broken record here, but dog waste must be picked up and disposed of properly for the health of our treasured and valuable forests -- and it's the law

Did you know that on average, dogs produce about 3/4 pound of solid waste per day? That means that Weston’s dogs contribute about 265,000 pounds of poop annually! 

Dog feces is full of harmful bacteria. In fact, a single gram of dog feces can contain an estimated 23 million bacteria, such as coliform and parasites, including harmful pathogens like e coli, giardia, and salmonella. 

A popular thought among dog owners is that dog waste is natural and will decompose in the woods; however, dog feces in our conservation lands is not “natural” nor does it decompose properly in our woods. You see, dog waste does not contain the same resources and nutrients of our wooded ecosystem, it contains excessive nutrients from pet food that is made for healthy dog diets. Coyotes, deer, and squirrels poopin' in the woods is natural because their waste contains the same resources and nutrients of the woods, and therefore will decompose naturally.

Dog waste throws off the equilibrium of the wooded ecosystem. It creates unstable conditions, such as allowing algae blooms to form in our waterways and destabilizing soil conditions for our native plants to thrive. Those native plants feed our wild animals and birds, but if soils are destabilized and invasive species grow and crowd out the native species, a valuable food source is slowly being destroyed. Further, dog waste "left to nature" leeches into our waterways and contributes to stormwater pollution, which is the fastest growing water pollution in the state. It causes damage to valuable wetland ecosystems.

Weston’s conservation lands are cherished and are valuable (more on that below). We all must do our part to protect these amazing native ecosystems. Bring a bag, SCOOP the POOP, and throw it in the garbage. For more information on Dog Walking in Weston please visit www.weston.org/DogWalking.

comic of a person giving a poop bag to dog walker
Comic by Tony Carrillo
mass central rail trail sign

Grand Opening Celebration of the Mass Central Rail Trail

October 19th

The towns of Weston and Wayland are hosting a combined grand opening celebration for the Mass Central Rail Trail – Wayside, which extends through both towns. Various activities are being planned for the day that will allow residents of both communities to fully explore this new recreational asset. Activities begin at 9:30 a.m. in Wayland. Join in all or just a part of the day. The schedule of events is online.

Join the Celebration and Explore the Newest Segment of
the Bay Circuit Trail

The new segment is a mostly level walk from Wayland to Weston, starting on the rail trail then heading into conservation lands in Weston to Lincoln. Meet in Lincoln at 9:00 a.m. at the entrance to the Van Leer Conservation Land on Old Sudbury Road (47 Old Sudbury Road) to spot cars and carpool to the Wayland Town Center shopping center. The group will hike to the opening ceremonies for the new Mass Central Rail Trail in Wayland, join the procession that will continue to another opening ceremony in Weston, and leave the rail trail when the Bay Circuit Trail heads north through Weston Town Forest to Lincoln (total distance 5+ miles). Return by car to Wayland Town Center about 1:00 p.m.

weston forest and trail logo

WFTA Walk Schedule

Take a Hike!

Seriously, you should. Join members of the Weston Forest and Trail Association on the first Sunday of the month now through May and explore treasured conservation trails throughout Weston.

Weston Forest and Trail Association maintains over 90 miles of trails. You don't have to be a member to join the walks but do consider joining or making a donation, as this tireless group of volunteers work to preserve Weston's trails and rural character.

The walk schedule and membership information is available on the association's website.

trail closed during construction sign

Construction Started on the
Case Estates Trail

New Trail will be ADA Accessible

Last month, construction began on the Legacy Trail and its connector paths, which are a paved and crushed-stone trail network that will travel across the Case Estates to connect Case Campus with Ash Street and eventually the Weston Reservoir. Residents are asked to stay off the property until the trails are completed (hopefully later this fall), but soon Weston will have a wonderful new trail system for all to enjoy. Stay tuned. 

a forest trail canopied by trees

Land Protection Helps the Climate

The state agency, MassWildlife, manages over 220,000 acres of wildlife lands throughout Massachusetts and is recognized as a national leader in incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation principles into its statewide wildlife conservation mission.

Protecting land from development not only provides habitat for wildlife, but also helps climate change mitigation through the carbon storage gained by tree and plant growth. 
Climate change is driven by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. As they grow, trees and other forest plants help reduce greenhouse gases by storing large amounts of carbon in wood, root systems, and soils. MassWildlife is committed to managing the vast majority of its land as forest and recognizes that every acre the agency and its conservation partners permanently protect from development contributes to climate change mitigation efforts. A recent analysis shows Wildlife Management Areas currently store 14.1 million tons of carbon statewide. The full article is on the MassWildlife website.

For curious minds, Weston has permanently protected over 1,800 acres of open space. Just another reason to appreciate all those forested trails in and around your neighborhood (and further reason to scoop the poop).

fall leaves on the ground

Leaves. Leaves! Leaves!!

That fall foliage is so pretty to look at but the price to peep is the annual fall cleanup - or is it?

A lot of people think that because leaves, grass clippings, brush, and other yard waste are ‘natural’, it is okay to dump huge piles in the woods or wetlands. However, dumped yard waste actually destroys the underlying vegetation and wildlife habitat, prohibiting new trees and shrubs from growing.

Leaf dumping near water bodies often results in flooding problems upstream, and when too many decomposing leaves get in our streams, unnaturally high levels of nutrients can harm aquatic wildlife. Roadside ditches, used to remove road runoff, can also get clogged from leaves dumped by residents and landscapers. So, when you're out with your rake in hand (or your landscaper has just arrived), please don't dump the leaves in the woods, a brook, or a storm drain - and please don't leave them on the sidewalk.

Dump Responsibly

If you've raked them up and need a place to put them, Weston residents can bring their yard waste (grass, leaves, and brush) to the transfer station off of Church Street. The composting facility (brush dump) on Merriam Street is also open for six consecutive weeks starting October 19th, from 7:00 to 3:00 p.m. All residents with a current Transfer Station or Recycling Only permit may use either facility. For avid gardeners, compost and wood chips are available free of charge. Additional information on the Town's Transfer Station is available online.

Say No to the Rake (and blower)!

This year, consider forgoing the annual fall cleanup. Be bold and a friend to nature.

Composting your leaves makes a natural fertilizer or winter protection for your garden (like a warm fuzzy blanket). You can also ask your landscaper to mulch the leaves (or mulch them with your lawnmower) directly on your lawn to feed the grass over winter. The National Wildlife Federation has a great article online about why you should let your fallen leaves be. And the Audubon website has very compelling reasons to put down the rake for good.

buck with antlers on the edge of a forest
It is estimated that there are 25 deer per square mile in Weston – That’s over 3 times the number Weston should have.

It's Rutting Season

White-tailed deer breed from late October to early December, which is why there is increased deer activity, especially during early morning and evening hours. During these low-light hours, slow down when driving and watch the sides of the road for deer. It's hard to predict which way the animal will jump if spooked, so be cautious and do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer because it may lead to more risk and damage than hitting the deer.

Deer Hunting Season

Bow hunting has been permitted on select properties in Weston for the last six years. The seventh season of the program began in early October continuing the ongoing effort to protect our forest from dense deer populations. The Conservation Commission issues permits to approved hunters to hunt from temporary tree stands. Bow hunting season lasts until December 31st. 

The only hunting method permitted on Town land is tree stand bow hunting. This method has a significantly shorter range than hunting with a firearm, and arrows are shot from high in the tree stand, down toward the ground at a 20-yard range. Each permitted hunter is required to pass proficiency tests as well as hold a Massachusetts hunting license. Temporary hunting stands are affixed to trees and located well off of the walking paths. 

Walking and recreational uses of conservation land is not be disrupted during hunting season. All hunters are aware that Weston’s trails are heavily used by people and dogs. To alert trail users, signage is placed at the main trailheads where hunting is allowed. Though it is not necessary, some trail users (and their dogs) will wear brightly colored clothing or flare to help them stand out in the woods.

Several MetroWest communities including Framingham, Sudbury, and Dover have also launched successful hunting programs on their popularly-used conservation lands. For more information, see the Deer Management Program web page, which includes a hunting map and an FAQ.

wooly bear catepillar with large orange band

Mild Winter?

Maybe we don’t have to wait for Groundhog Day when Punxsutawney Phil lets us know when winter may end? Legend has it that the woolly bear caterpillar—also called woolly worm or fuzzy worm—can help forecast the coming winter weather.

The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.

So, if you come across a local woolly caterpillar, observe the colors of the bands and see if the legend is right. If you are interested in learning more about this legend, the Farmer's Almanac has an interesting article about it.

And, what about all of those acorns????? The snow is gonna fly - according to legend.

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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