Author Archives: laurenmh84

Recycling Electronics and Consolidating Trash

PARE held its second electronics recycling (or “E-waste”) drive in conjunction with Northeast Computer Recycling from the end of February though the first week in March. This event provided staff a free opportunity to get rid of outdated or broken electronic items that had been accumulating around their homes, and also allowed for some cleanup of old electronics around PARE’s Lincoln and Foxboro offices.

After picking up our unwanted electronics, Northeast Computer Recycling takes care of the rest. They break down the components and distribute the parts to recycling facilities throughout the region.  Among the electronics collected were unused computers, monitors, printers,  and PARE’s old laminating machine. Take a look at their website here  to learn more about what they accept and how you can have your own E-Waste recycling drive.

 

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Here are just a few of the items collected during PARE’s E-waste Recycling drive.

Another recent development in PARE’s offices was the voluntary surrender of individual trash barrels. PARE’s Waste Reduction Subcommittee is in the beginning stages of implementing  a  Zero Landfill Waste Plan, and the first stage in our plan is to bring Awareness to how much landfill waste offices like ours generate.

Removing waste barrels from individual desks can help in two ways: by promoting (1) individual awareness of what is being thrown away since once your personal barrel is gone, throwing something in the trash is no longer automatic; and (2) group awareness of the quantity and types of landfill waste we generate. With most of our trash centralized in the common areas of our offices, we are in a better position to track the volume and types of waste being generated at PARE.

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21 waste barrels were surrendered at PARE’s Lincoln office.

Stay tuned for more news on sustainable practices being developed in our offices!

 

Tiny Trail: A New American Dream

Have you heard of the Tiny House Movement? Miniature, mobile dwellings are gaining popularity with those who wish to live a more environmentally and socially conscious lifestyle.

tiny-house-movementThe average American house is now over 2,000 square feet in size, but how much of that space is actually needed (or efficiently utilized)? Compact living comes with freedom from the financial burdens associated with the large mortgages and high energy costs of the traditional American home – and oftentimes, the freedom to take your home with you when you wish to relocate.

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My sister Sarah, a Junior studying Architecture and Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College, is taking the concept one step further. As part of her Senior thesis project next year, Sarah will construct the “Tiny Trail”, a mobile Tiny House made with 100% locally sourced materials and powered by sustainable and efficient energy sources.

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Elecricity will be provided through rooftop  solar panels, and an efficient propane stove will heat the home for $30/month in the dead of a New England winter.  All building materials will be sourced within 200 miles of the construction site, and each mile will be logged and each material traced to its source. Secondhand or salvaged items will be used wherever possible – including beams from dismantled barns in Central Massachusetts, and a space-saving “Hoosier Cabinet” from the 1920’s, found on Craigslist.

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The Tiny Trail design will be brought to life through a credit course offered to students within the Five Colleges Consortium, calling upon those with the various skills necessary to complete its construction.  The Five Colleges include Mount Holyoke, UMass Amherst, Smith College, Amherst College and Hampshire College.

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Sarah’s Tiny House will be of the mobile variety, to be constructed on a 20 x 24’ flatbed trailer. Wherever life takes Sarah after her undergraduate studies, Tiny Trail will follow!

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To learn more, visit Tiny Trail WEBSITE You can also follow the progress of Sarah’s design by connecting on Facebook!

And the Winner of PARE’s 3rd Annual Earth Day Photo Contest Is…

Happy Earth Day, everyone – and congratulations to Jay Bowen, the winner of PARE’s 3rd annual Earth Day Photo contest!

We received thirteen great entries this year, so it was a difficult choice! Jay’s “The Plight of the Bumblebee” swept the competition with nine votes.

 

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The “Plight” of the Bumblebee
“More than an annoying summertime buzz
More than a stinger on a tiny ball of fuzz
The Bee works all day to produce the perfect food
A sweet, delicate treat for when you’re in the mood
No need for tools, chemicals, or artificial power
To gently coast from flower to flower
A form of agriculture not to be surpassed
The Bee has perfected sustainability built to last
But the Bee’s population has started to decline
Pesticides and poor environment come to mind
So let’s stay green and give our BeeFF’s a hand
For as Einstein said “No bees, no man”

Jay will receive a gift card to Panera Bread, a company that encourages us to “Live Consciously, Eat Deliciously”. To learn about how Panera promotes sustainability and gives back to the community, click here.

Special thanks to all who entered the contest this year! Check them out here.

Photo 1: ”Taking Advantage of a Windy and Sunny day at the Beach” by David Matheson

Photo 2: “Walking on Water!” by Melodie Hebert

Photo 3: “Beauty of the World” by Joe Malo

Photo 4: “Fuel Production Plant” by Simon McGrath

Photo 5: “A Foraging Egret” by Lauren Hastings

Photo 6: “Jellyfish Awareness” by Scott Lindgren

Photo 7: “Roman Aqueduct” by Brandon Blanchard

Photo 8: “Maintaining Our Environment” by Kevin Vivieros

Photo 9: “Great Egret” by Briscoe Lang

Photo 11: “San Sebastian Spain” by Brian Mahoney

Photo 12: “Lake Winnipesaukee Sunset” by Devon Ward

Photo 13: “Mono Lake” by David Easterbrooks

The Entries are In: PARE’s 3rd Annual Earth Day Photo Contest

We are excited to present the entries for PARE’s 3rd annual Earth Day Photo Contest! This year, the Sustainable Design Committee was seeking photographs that celebrate the environment and a sustainable lifestyle, in the spirit of Earth Day.

Take a moment to enjoy this year’s 13 entries.

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Photo 1: ”Taking Advantage of a Windy and Sunny day at the Beach”

On my way back from a day of inspecting dams on Block Island last summer, the state helicopter flew over the figuratively and literally “green” East Matunuck State Beach Pavilion.

 

 

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Photo 2: “Walking on Water!”

Glaciers worldwide are receding due to a changing environment and extent of human impact on the planet with a global trend of warmer air temperatures.This spectacular site and experience will be forever etched in my memory. Every American should see Alaska once in their lifetime – it is breathtaking!

Mendenhall Glacier Juneau, AK (Blue Ice is from the ice which has compressed all the gas inside so much that the apparent color is blue from light scattering, much like a blue sky.)

 

 

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Photo 3: “Beauty of the World”

It’s good to celebrate the beauty of the world when you are on top of it.

 

 

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Photo 4: “Fuel Production Plant”

Fuel Production Plant hard at work in the beautiful Italian countryside. The seeds from these Sunflowers are used to produce bio-diesel. Carbon neutral fuel and beautiful at the same time.

 

 

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Photo 5: A Foraging Egret

A Great Egret foraging in a tidal pond is a beautiful sight, and serves as a reminder of how important it is to protect what remains of our coastal ecosystems.

 

 

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Photo 6: Jellyfish Awareness

I picked this photo to bring awareness to the increasing decline of our world’s oceans this Earth Day. You may ask, why jellyfish? Well jellyfish are what they call an indicator species. Jellyfish populations have been increasing dramatically around the world and represents a decline to our ocean ecosystem.

The population upward trend has been linked to many factors such as; increasing ocean temperatures and acidity, abundant plankton growth from agricultural fertilizers runoff, the overfishing of jellyfish predators such as Bluefin tuna, and a declining populations of sea turtles. All these issues are human impacts that we can effectively change with awareness and action.

The ocean here in New England is a part of our heritage, history, and way of life. One way to celebrate Earth Day and ocean sustainability is by thinking of sustainable seafood options. So this Earth Day, check out the New England Aquarium’s “ Blue Plate Special” program with local Boston restaurants, at http://www.neaq.org, and also sustainable seafood buying options and fishery information at http://blueocean.org/ and http://www.fishchoice.com/.

 

 

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Photo 7: Roman Aqueduct

When this Roman aqueduct was completed in the 1st Century, it took advantage of gravity to move water from source to destination in a truly sustainable manner. At the time, it was an ingenious solution to a complex problem – how to reliably distribute one of life’s essential natural resources – when few options were available. Not only does it still stand, rumor has it that it can still carry a steady stream of water.

Centuries of innovation have made engineering marvels like this aqueduct obsolete. But as engineers, we are at the forefront of a renewed interest in progress that protects our planet for future generations to thrive.

 

 

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Photo 8: Maintaining Our Environment

With proper stewardship we can maintain our natural environment for our children.

 

 

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Photo 9: Great Egret

Once hunted extensively for its plumage, which was used to adorn trendy and extravagant hats popular in the late 1800’s, the Great Egret has rebounded tremendously as a result of conservation measures enacted for its protection. It is now common throughout its range, which includes brackish and freshwater habitats in southern New England, and remains protected. The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, and an excellent example of conservation at work.

 

 

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Photo 10: The “Plight” of the Bumblebee The “Plight” of the Bumblebee
More than an annoying summertime buzz
More than a stinger on a tiny ball of fuzz
The Bee works all day to produce the perfect food
A sweet, delicate treat for when you’re in the mood
No need for tools, chemicals, or artificial power
To gently coast from flower to flower
A form of agriculture not to be surpassed
The Bee has perfected sustainability built to last
But the Bee’s population has started to decline
Pesticides and poor environment come to mind
So let’s stay green and give our BeeFF’s a hand
For as Einstein said “No bees, no man” 

 

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Photo 11: San Sebastian Spain

This small, picturesque city on the northern coast of Spain protects the environment while thriving off the sustainability that the ocean and local farms provide.

 

 

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Photo 12: Lake Winnipesaukee Sunset

This view is from my favorite place in the world, an island in the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Lake Winnipesaukee is the third largest lake in New England and has seen a boom in tourism and shoreline development in the last half century. Boat traffic, septic systems, and other pollution associated with increased tourism and development threaten the health of the lake and its diverse wildlife. People have responded to this threat and now several organizations are hard at work to protect this natural treasure, including the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, the Lakes Region Planning Commission, and the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. Current efforts include reducing phosphorous levels in the lake, reducing sediment transport into the threatened bays of the lake, and developing a watershed management plan to protect this beautiful lake so people like myself can continue to enjoy Lake Winnipesaukee and its wildlife for generations to come.

 

 

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Photo 13: Mono Lake

Mono Lake, California. July 2012.
Where’s the water? The City of Los Angeles, 330 miles to the south, started drawing water in 1941 from the streams that fed Mono Lake near Yosemite National Park. By 1982, lake level had fallen more than 45 feet, severely impacting this prime breeding site for many of the birds of the west coast. The “Tufa towers” dominating this photo are formed by underwater springs rich in ionized calcium. Since the Tufa formation only occurs underwater, the 25’+ towers testify to our voracious appetite for fresh water, and the disastrous consequences of an unmanaged approach to water usage.

 

 

All PARE staff are invited to vote for their favorite. Please email Deb with your choice by Friday, April 19. The winning photo will be announced on Earth Day, Monday, April 22. Thank you to all who entered!

A Sustainable Alternative to Cape Traffic

As a lifelong resident of the Boston area, trips to Cape Cod have always been a quintessential part of summertime and a relaxing escape from city life. The only major downside? Horrendous Cape traffic!

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is introducing an alternative mode of transportation with the “Cape Cod Flyer”, a new seasonal train service from Boston to Hyannis. The Flyer will run on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, using existing rail lines and MBTA equipment. This will be the first time in 25 years that train service is available from Boston to Cape Cod.

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Once arriving in Hyannis, riders will have easy access to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket ferries, the Barnstable Municipal Airport, and buses. Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board, encouraging visitors to take advantage of the region’s extensive network of bike paths.

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Sandy Neck beach in Barnstable, Hyannis

At $35 for a round trip ticket, the train fare costs less than many would spend on gas – and provides a comfortable, environmentally friendly alternative to gridlock on Route 3.

Read this story on WickedLocal for more information!

A Day At Wolf Hollow

This weekend, I had the unforgettable opportunity to meet a pack of endangered Gray Wolves.  I volunteered a morning of wetland consulting at Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, and in return I got to experience an informative and up-close encounter with their wolves.

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Prior to European settlement, the Gray Wolf was the top predator throughout most of the United States.  Their population was depleted through a combination of intentional killing and habitat loss, and a species once numbering in the millions in the U.S. was reduced to about 5,000. Wolf Hollow was established in 1990 with the mission of educating the public about the importance of protecting the Gray Wolf in the wild. The Sanctuary is now run by the founder’s son Zee Soffron who resides on the property, and a team of dedicated volunteers. Weekly presentations offer an informative look at the often misunderstood animal, and as well as an opportunity to view their ten resident wolves at close range.

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Zee Soffron, owner of Wolf Hollow, playing with the pack.

The licensed non-profit organization is supported solely through admission, gift shop sales, and donations. The visitor center, located on the first floor of the Soffron’s home, provides educational resources on the ecology of the Gray Wolf. Having outgrown the space, Wolf Hollow plans to construct a small standalone visitor center. I spent the morning walking the site and preparing a sketch of the general locations of wetlands on the property, and discussing what to expect in the permitting process once they are ready to move forward. Afterwards, I was given the rare opportunity to photograph wolves up close through openings in the fence!

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Meet Bear, a wolf-dog hybrid. I got to give this friendly fellow a scratch.

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I stuck around for the afternoon presentation – and I am so glad I did. The lecture was informative for small children and adults alike. Topics included how wolf lives in a family group, its role in nature, its surprisingly close ties to man, and the ongoing fight to preserve the species in the wild.

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The roles of the Gray Wolf in maintaining a sustainable landscape are more far-reaching than one might realize. For example, did you know that reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 has improved the quality of river habitat? Elk favor shady riverbanks, and when a herd lingers on one area the banks become overgrazed and erosive, damaging aquatic ecosystems. Predation from wolves has encouraged herd movement and dispersion, allowing riverbanks and other areas to recover naturally.

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Wolf on the Prowl at Yellowstone National Park

Sometimes it is easy to forget that all domestic dogs, from Husky to Pug, can be traced back to wolves, and many wolf-like behaviors are still apparent in domestic canines. Ever wonder why your dog rolls around on the ground when he discovers an intriguing scent? This behavior can be traced to a method of communication between members of a wolf pack. When a wolf picks up a new or unfamiliar scent, he will return it to his pack to relay a message: whether it be news of a potential rival, an unfamiliar animal, or a new source of food.

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My dog Cody often does this on hikes. Who knew he was picking up a scent to bring back to his “pack”?

Of particular interest were the discussions of the social dynamics within the pack. Wolf Hollow’s former Alpha Male Weeble recently passed away, and the pack is in a state of flux as males compete for dominance. Zee explained that the hierarchy is based more on confidence and behavior than size or strength. Case in point: Arrow, a smaller male, appears to be the top contender for Alpha. It will be interesting to see how these dynamics play out in the coming weeks!

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Arrow, a top contender for Alpha male. Photo by Michael Sterling from the Wolf Hollow Facebook Page.

I highly recommend a trip to Wolf Hollow, and I look forward to seeing how plans for a Visitor Center unfold. To learn more about Wolf Hollow, visit their website.

Also, be sure to “Like” their Facebook Page for updates on the wolves  and other goings-on.

Town Brook Relocation Project: Improvements to an Urban Waterway

Big changes are underway in my hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts.  A $1.6 billion redevelopment of Quincy Center is underway that promises to bring economic growth and aesthetic improvements to the City.  As part of this transformation, the City is restoring a section of the Town Brook, a waterway that currently zig-zags in a 1,700-foot stretch of culvert beneath  downtown Quincy.

Throughout Quincy’s development, the Town Brook was gradually covered by buildings, parking lots, and roads. A culvert was added section by section from the 1890s to the 1970s that directs the brook beneath the City’s downtown. The result is the 1,700 foot culvert comprised of eleven types of conduit.

Existing sections of the Town Brook culvert beneath Quincy Center.

The Town Brook Relocation Project will abandon the existing 1,700 foot culvert system and replace it with a more direct 1,200-foot waterway. Over 200 feet of the new waterway will daylight within a new green space alongside the new Walker Hannon Parkway, allowing the public to enjoy a section of a stream which they may have never known about.

Nine alternative alignments were considered. The existing alignment is shown in brown, and the selected alignment is shown in green. Source: “The New Quincy Center Plan” presentation: http://www.quincyma.gov/cityofquincy_content/documents/townbrook.pdf

Rerouting the brook will have a number of benefits.  It will provide infrastructure and public safety improvements, allowing the City to replace the old culverts in various stages of deterioration, and will better manage water quality and flooding. Exposing a section of stream will benefit fish and wildlife, including the Rainbow Smelt that travel the waterway each year to spawn. Furthermore, the project will simplify the future redevelopment of the downtown area.

“The restoration of the Town Brook culvert is one of the most meticulously designed, expertly-engineered, and environmentally-beneficial public works projects contemplated anywhere at any time in Massachusetts,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch in a release.

This $15 million dollar project broke ground this past July, and the City aims to complete this project by the end of the year. I look forward to seeing the final product of this unique restoration project.

PARE Tours New Plymouth North High School

Plymouth North High School facade

by Lauren Hastings

On August 28, PARE staff were offered a tour of the newly constructed Plymouth North High School before the students begin school next week. PARE partnered with Ai3 Architects and Gates, Leighton and Associates (now BETA Group) on the project, which is part of the MA Model School Program and is seeking LEED Gold certification. The project required the services of every division and department at PARE, including the site design, traffic analyses, wetland delineation, environmental permitting, environmental and geotechnical investigations, and construction support. We explored the many green features of the school during our tour. Some of these green features incorporated into the project were discussed in a previous entry of the GreenPARE Blog published in May. View the previous entry here.

PARE carpools from Foxboro to Plymouth North

We began our tour with a walk through the school building, during which we were able to see the media center, gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, and classrooms.

The media center is designed to maximize the use of natural light. This two story space has large windows and lighting fixtures that are activated by the absence of sunlight.

Plymouth North High School’s state-of-the-art auditorium.

Plymouth North High School’s modern cafeteria.

The gymnasium uses reconditioned air, maximizing energy efficiency. The walking track along the perimeter of the upper level gym space will be open to the public which helps attribute to SS Credit 10 – Joint Use of Facilities.

The gymnasium lobby features artwork made up of memorabilia from the former school.

During our walk around the site, we were able to see many of the sustainable features and best management practices incorporated into the landscape design, stormwater management system, and athletic facilities. The photos below highlight some of these features on the site.

A rain garden featuring native species and river stones provides stormwater management at the drop-off loop.

The school’s central courtyard is designed to maximize natural light to classrooms while providing an attractive outdoor space. River stone lining the building facilitates drainage and helps prevent moisture from being held against the building.

Accessibility for the handicapped at the school’s stadium facility.

Porous concrete and landscaped areas surrounds the concession building, minimizing impervious area.

The newly constructed Council On Aging building adjacent to the High School overlooks the athletic facilities.

Interlocking blocks provide a permeable surface for parking areas around the school. Bike lanes around the campus encourage cycling to school.

Demolition of the former school building will continue as school begins. Additional athletic facilities and parking will be constructed in the location of the previous school.

Our visit to Plymouth North High School was a great opportunity for people from various departments within our company to see how all of the work we do at PARE comes together in a finished project with multiple sustainable features.

Dedham Bioblitz – Boston Globe Feature

A wonderful feature on the Dedham BioBlitz, written by Natalie Feulner, was recently published in The Boston Globe and on Boston.com. The article also features a  gallery of photos from the day, captured by Boston Globe photographer Rose Lincoln.

Lauren Hastings of PARE identifies ferns at Fowl Meadow. Photo by Rose Lincoln for the Boston Globe / Boston.com. To view the full gallery of photos from the day, click the link below.

For the story, click here.

For the photo gallery, click here.

BioBlitz: Exploring Dedham’s Natural Wonders

On July 14, I participated in the Dedham Bioblitz, an effort to tally up as many species as possible within a one-day period throughout several of Dedham’s open spaces. It was an honor to contribute to an event that promotes awareness of local biodiversity, and to spend an informative day among seasoned experts in the environmental field. Stephanie Radner, founder of the Dedham Natural Wonders program, organized the BioBlitz for the second year in a row. It was a fun and productive day – with over 700 species counted.

The event kicked off Friday evening with a nighttime walk, where nocturnal species were observed and identified. On Saturday, groups of naturalists and volunteers took on three very different habitats:  Dedham Town Forest, Wigwam Pond, and the Fowl Meadow wetland.  As part of the Fowl Meadow group, I worked with Dr. Lisa Standley, expert botanist and author, and Dr. Peter Burn, professor and chair of Suffolk University Biology Department. We were also joined by journalist Natalie Fulener, who will be publishing an article on the BioBlitz in the Boston Globe later this month.  No trails or boardwalks are present in this wetland,  so it took some resourcefulness to get around, hopping between tussocks of vegetation and at times relying on Peter’s smartphone to orient ourselves in the right direction. The effort paid off, with about 150 species of plants counted within a couple of hours.

Dr. Peter Burn shares his botanical knowledge with Boston Globe journalist Natalie Fuelner.

Since we began our day bright and early at Fowl Meadow, there was still plenty of time to continue our inventory before lunch. Peter, Lisa and I decided to explore the trails at Wilson Mountain, which brought us through varied terrain including deciduous and evergreen forest, massive rock outcroppings, forested wetlands, streams, and vernal pools.

Thanks to the expertise of Dr. Lisa Standley, we found dozens of sedges, rushes and grasses.

We gathered for lunch at the Dolan Recreational Center,  which served as the BioBlitz headquarters for the day.  Families worked on a biodiversity scavenger hunt and various craft projects, and took in a fascinating live birds of prey exhibit put on by the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Later in the day, a diverse array of insects were counted at Wilson Mountain Meadow.

So far, about 700 species were counted throughout the day, which included 291 plants, 50 birds, close to 150 insects, and 25 fungi. A full species list can be viewed here. I would encourage anyone to join us in Dedham next year, whether you work in the environmental field or are just someone interested in experiencing the biodiveristy in your own backyard!