Published on April 13, 2020

A Note from Our Sanctuary Director

Becky Cushing - Director of Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries

Dear Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries Community,

We hope this letter finds you healthy and safe under the current circumstances. During the past weeks we've missed you as we made the difficult decision to close all Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries across the state to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

When COVID-19 first began spreading in Massachusetts, we invited visitors to walk the trails while following social distancing guidelines. And many, many people took us up on that offer. In fact, the parking lot at Pleasant Valley and Canoe Meadows were overflowing beyond capacity. Increased visitors walking along often narrow trails and boardwalks was making social distancing difficult. We also wanted to ensure that we did not add stress to local essential services with the risk of an injured or lost hiker. We want nothing more than to reopen our wildlife sanctuaries. And the moment we feel it is safe to do so we will.

We know how important our wildlife sanctuaries are to you, our community, and how important it is to find comfort in nature during these challenging times. We've been working hard—from our homes—to develop ways to support your efforts to connect with nature closer to your home and to keep us connected to each other even during this time when social distancing is crucial.

Join us on Facebook and Instagram for daily posts ranging from "Bird of the Day" to mindfulness exercises to activities for Young Explorers to nature photography highlights. We love to see what you share, too!

Our countywide Berkshire Environmental Literacy program has gone virtual. Read about how our educators have quickly moved into the virtual realm.

Every April we look forward to celebrating Earth Day, usually by rolling up our sleeves at our wildlife sanctuaries, preparing gardens, and readying trails for the busy spring and summer seasons. While we cannot gather this year, we are committed to doing our part to support the land and water that sustain us. Mass Audubon is celebrating Earth Day on April 22 by participating as a team in the month-long 2020 Drawdown EcoChallenge. Learn more about this exciting global competition that consists of sets of actions aimed at tackling our collective climate footprint to fight climate change. We hope you'll join us and share what you learn.

While the future is uncertain, we can find comfort in present awareness of our surroundings. Just outside my doorstep I see Red Maple flowers bursting and hear Wood Frogs unabashedly calling. I spot a Brown Creeper—a cryptic, trunk-hugging little bird—and the Black-capped Chickadees are singing their tiny hearts out. Each day I try to pause from emails, conference calls, and homeschooling for a coffee break on my back stoop. My friends from across the country share their nature photos and videos—they know I cannot resist—and we talk about skunk cabbage, bird nests, and nature bingo activities for their kids.

We are thinking of you and look forward to the day when we can all be together, outside, enjoying the places we treasure with the people we love. In the meantime please stay connected and we look forward to supporting your growing connection to nature at home!

All the best,

Becky Cushing's signature

Becky Cushing
Sanctuary Director, Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries