Letter: A volunteer’s heartache 

Liz Massa cleans the JL sign on Rt 20.

To the Editor,

As I drove into the Chester Blandford State Forest Parking area, to capture a photo for a press release, my spirits fell seeing the front of our new Kiosk, made possible through a Mass Trails Grant and hours of community involvement, covered with Graffiti.

As the members, who had collaborated on this effort, the Dept. of Conservation & Rec., Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, W&S Westfield River Committee and Highlands footpath members gathered, we were all mystified by the damage. However, within minutes this hearty community group was thinking about solutions, how to clean the sign and ways to improve the public’s knowledge of and interaction with our wild places.

Volunteers Jeff Penn and Chet Bret clean the sign.

We hope community members continue to enjoy and protect these beautiful places and join us in being stewards of them. Over this past summer, I have seen families bringing reusable containers to eliminate trash, couples following directional signs so they don’t trample vegetation and others helping improve the trails we love with simple maintenance. I draw upon these positive memories when I am affronted by thoughtless pointless damage, like we found at the Kiosk.

As I drove home, another sign highlighting the Jacob’s Ladder Trail is also spray-painted but there, a community member and active trail enthusiast Liz Massa, cleaning rag in hand, removing the blemish. I stopped and we worked together to set it right. I want to thank all of you who take the time and energy to protect and enhance our incredible wild lands and water.

We will not let pointless acts of vandalism distract us from the work and delight of volunteering for our community.

Meredyth Babcock
Westfield River Committee
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