Botanist Leads MLT Walk

On Saturday, October 13, the Mattapoisett Land Trust held their Fall Exploration walk through the trails around Nasketucket Bay State Reservation.  This year, the hike was led by botanist and retired UMass, Dartmouth professor Jim Sears.

This was the first time the MLT invited an expert along to lead the walk.

“We had talked about the educational aspect at the board meeting,” said Ellen Flynn, chairman of the MLT Education Committee.  “We wanted to know how we could get people from out of town involved in this and to get out and enjoy the area.”

Leading walks in the field has long been part of Sears’ work as an educator.

“I used to take my students out into nature.  I like to get people to raise questions, to think about the ecosystems, plants, animals, the habitat all interact,” he said.  “Most people here probably love nature already.  Maybe they’ll introduce their children to the kinds of experiences they’ve had.”

 Sears had prepared maps and a long list of plants the group could expect to see.  Along the way, he noted different types of evergreen trees, tall grasses, and small flowers.

According to Paul “Ozzie” Osenkowski, Mattapoisett Land Trust Preservation Committee chairman, the landscape has changed dramatically over the last two centuries.

“Back in the 1800’s, a lot of this was pasture land for sheep,” Ozzie said.  These days, the area is considered to be a mixed deciduous forest, comprised of a mixture of trees that loose their leaves, like maples, and evergreen trees.

Judy Benedict of Mattapoisett joined the walk and brought two visiting family members.    “I had heard from my friend that there was going to be a walk with a botanist and I thought it sounded interesting.  It was just serendipity,” she said.

By Eric Tripoli

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