Charles Cutler, volunteer

Thank you for the opportunity to share my observations on the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust. The Executive Director and members of the staff and Board of Directors are dedicated and proactive in all that they do in and for the city of Lowell. Their proactive activity has created many unique partnerships (with the city, the National Park Service, Massachusetts Audubon, the Trustees of Reservations, and Neighborhood Groups) and opportunities for the citizens of Lowell and for visitors from all over the world.

There are a few focus areas that impress me about the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust and why I thoroughly enjoy volunteering for the Trust and participating in their activities.

Historic Preservation
• The Trust has partnered with the family that owned Hawk Valley Farm way back when it was an active 70 acre farm. Over the years the ownership changed and there was development of most of the property. The Trust also partnered with the Trustees of Reservations to secure a conservation restriction that will protect the farm from future development. The family is now restoring the property to a working farm.
• The Trust has preserved a unique part of Lowell’s history in the Spaulding House by taking steps to maintain and restore the former tavern / home. Now, working with the National Park Service and the city, they are creating a park in back of the House on the Merrimack River that will connect with an existing walkway through the city.
• In the spring they offer white water rafting on the Concord River in partnership with Zoar, a rafting company based in western Massachusetts; and the National Park Service. The rafting is unique in many ways – first, it is in the middle of the city; second it showcases the Concord River and the Merrimack River; and third, the rafting concludes the rafting with a trip back in time as the rafts enter a set of working canal locks in the center of the city. Volunteer lock tenders operate the locks as the rafters move through two locks and end their trip in the center of the city. I don’t know of another city in the country with a similar opportunity for a history lesson from the industrial revolution.
• The staff has worked with the city, the National Park Service, the University of Lowell, and many local and national artists to develop the Concord River Greenway. Historical markers in four languages highlight the rich history of Lowell as different ethnic groups from around world moved to Lowell for employment opportunities during and after the industrial revolution. Two sections of the Greenway and a Park at one end of the Greenway have been opened with a formal dedication.

Environmental Projects
• They have an active program to plant trees throughout the city often partnering with neighborhood groups to provide and plant trees in local parks and along roadways.
• There are volunteer land stewards that help to watch over special places (land and parks) within the city. They have been preserved for all to use and to enjoy the environment.
• Volunteers have assisted in alewife monitoring in the Concord River.

Educational Opportunities
• The staff and volunteers have partnered with the Massachusetts Audubon Society to offer programs on animal tracking in the snow, maple sugaring, the fascinating world of vernal pools, and more.

Volunteer Opportunities
• The Trust offers many volunteer opportunities in all areas noted above and more! I have been a lock tender, land steward (including my amateur photography), a volunteer in the office and more.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to show why I enthusiastically support (financially and as a volunteer) the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust.

Submitted to Great Non-profits, 3/04/2011