Volunteers help the Coalition keep a watchful eye at The Sawmill
The opening of The Sawmill has also opened up a new volunteer opportunity with the Coalition: “adopting” one of our public reserves in Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, and Wareham.
Through the Adopt A Reserve volunteer program, local residents who love the outdoors are signing up to visit one these reserves on a regular basis to walk the trails, inspect the grounds, and report on what they observe. The Sawmill has become a popular destination for walking, so these local residents are doing their part for the park by volunteering to do an activity that many people already enjoy.
“The help of volunteers gives us more eyes on the ground,” said Kelly Barber, the Coalition’s MassLIFT-AmeriCorps Land Stewardship Coordinator who organizes the Adopt A Reserve program. Volunteers note any misuse that has occurred on the grounds since they last visited, pick up litter if they are so inclined, and submit reports to Kelly.
Paulette Marshall is one of many volunteers who helps monitor The Sawmill. “Sometimes I come here before eight in the morning, and it’s just so lovely,” she said of the north river overlook, one of The Sawmill’s most scenic spots. “One morning…there was a little river otter. He definitely knew I was here. He’d come out of the water, and go under, pop up closer. And he was right there, right in front of me.”
Walking a property regularly provides volunteers with opportunities for lucky encounters like Paulette’s with the river otter. And, Kelly said, volunteering gives people “an extra motive or purpose to go outside and walk around: they’re helping a conservation organization.”
Paulette said she decided to volunteer because the Acushnet River has always been part of her life. “But it was unapproachable because of the mills and the condition of the river. So I thought that, with all the work that’s been done, I at least owed it to do my part. But now I would come here anyway – I just love it!”
Kelly agreed that volunteering is really about loving a property. “When volunteers connect with the property they monitor, they feel like they’re taking responsibility to help protect it.”
The reports that volunteers submit help notify the Coalition of any immediate or developing issues at our reserves. This allows Kelly and Matt Spinner, the Coalition’s land stewardship director, to respond more quickly to resolve these issues and keep the properties well cared for.
Volunteers sign up with Kelly to monitor trails based on their interest and availability. Some visit once a month, while others may visit multiple times a week. Most of the current volunteers are stationed at The Sawmill due to its high level of public use, but there are also volunteers opportunities available at LaPalme Farm in Acushnet, Horseshoe Mill in Wareham, and The Bogs and Tripps Mill in Mattapoisett.
If you want to help us protect these conservation areas by volunteering to Adopt a Reserve, contact MassLIFT-AmeriCorps Land Stewardship Coordinator Leah Howard at (508) 999-6363 ext. 217.