Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary to host lecture series

Events free but donations to local food pantry encouraged

WALES — New England landscapes, New Jersey pine barrens, naked shrubs are among the topics to be delved into at the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary over the next few months.

Winter lectures at the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary are offered on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. The lectures are free; however, the sanctuary ask that guests bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to support the local food pantry. Interested parties are urged to RSVP and, check on a lecture’s status in case of inclement weather, by calling 413-267-9654, visiting their Facebook page, or visiting

February 1: New England Landscape Futures Explorer

Put on your dreaming cap and travel through space and time into multiple possible futures! Lucy Lee (Harvard Forest) will guide us with The New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer. This online mapping tool was developed with over 100 New Englanders. It considers land-use and climate scenarios to visualize and explore the impacts of possible future trajectories. This presentation will introduce the idea of scenarios for natural resource management, describe the NELF scenarios, and explore the NELF scenario outcomes around Norcross using the NELF Explorer. Together, we will consider what these possible futures could mean for the place we call home.

February 8: Minerals, Rock and Archaeology

Alan Smith, a project archaeologist and environmental specialist, will discuss his experiences involving several minerals and rock types that have influenced the anthropological and archaeological record. Follow the story of the formation of supercontinents and Massachusetts a billion years ago, the creation of its minerals and bedrock millions of years ago, the glaciation of this land thousands of years ago, ending with the establishment of flora and fauna and the peopling of this landscape where you live. See some exotic minerals caused by orogenic events that were used in the peopling of the land and were discovered by archaeologists.

February 22: The New Jersey Pine Barrens at a Glance

The pine barrens of New Jersey have long been known for its botanical richness and unique character. With over one million acres of protected lands, this “wilderness” sits within 25 miles of Philadelphia and 30 miles of New York City. Uli Lorimer, director of horticulture for Native Plant Trust, will touch upon some of the conservation work being done within the pines, some of the field work conducted on behalf of the Torrey Botanical Society and a showcase of the wonderful flora that can be found there.

February 29: Understanding the Fascinating Life Cycle of Native Plants

Heather McCargo, founder and executive director of Wild Seed Project, will show you the fascinating reproductive life cycle of different types of New England native plants. Heather will explain how we can change our landscape practices to support wild plant reproduction, pollinators, and other wildlife. Come and learn about outdoor seed sowing that anyone can do to help increase native plant populations. Growing native plants from seed is a great way to protect the genetic diversity of our native flora and to produce an abundance of plants inexpensively. Be part of a grassroots movement to sow native seeds!

March 7: Design-less Gardening: A Naturalist Approach

Disregard traditional design rules and adopt a new approach to garden design. Look to nature for your inspiration. What clues can you take from your landscape to help your site to thrive? Learn to evaluate sunlight, moisture, soil and other factors to encourage a successful garden that does not require many inputs in the way of watering, fertilizing, extra coddling on your part. Dan Jaffe, Norcross horticulturist and propagator, will show us how to create a low maintenance garden that actively supports the environment and provides beauty for all — people and pollinators alike.

March 14: You, Me, and Climate Change

Climate Change: It’s what’s for dinner. Not just tonight but every night for the foreseeable future. Since we know what’s being served up we may as well come up with a creative menu to deal with or mitigate the changes to come. Excess CO2 is not the problem; it’s a symptom as are the extreme weather patterns. Fossil fuel is only a fraction of the excess carbon in our atmosphere. Trevor Smith, lead designer at Land Escapes Design, will take you past the scary numbers and the heartbreaking photographs of emaciated polar bears floating alone on a piece of ice and break out what WE can do. Trevor makes it clear that the power to slow or stop climate change doesn’t rest solely in the hands of government and will leave you inspired and empowered to take action.

March 21: Bare Trees and Naked Shrubs

No leaves? No problem! Boot Boutwell, a freelance itinerant naturalist and educator, will show us how to use a combination of branching patterns, bud and bark characteristics, habitat, persistent fruits, galls and marcescent leaves to help us ID woody plants in winter. We will use both bud and twig samples to study our subjects. While this is an indoor program, there will be an optional walk outdoors immediately following the presentation.


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