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TOWNSEND — Townsend’s Friends Trail needs some company.

This Saturday it’ll have it.

The Friends of Willard Brook created the trail newest at Pearl Hill State Park and it will get a much needed clean up this weekend. Using saws, clippers and loppers, overhanging limbs and downed logs will be felled and cleared. Along with clearing the corridor, the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation will be painting blazes, or trail markers, on trees.

“It’s a four mile stretch, we should be able to finish it all within one full work day,” Ray Jackson, Friends of Willard Brook board member says.

Proper trail maintenance, according to Jackson, requires two work sessions per year: one in the spring to clean up after the winter, and one before the snow falls to clear off leaves.

He says that the ideal situation would be for all area trails to get adopters.

“In order to divide up the volunteer work, the trail could be adopted in mile sections,” Jackson says.

Adopting is optimal to not only spread the workload, but allow for regular reports to be sent into DCR or the Friends, that way, any major repairs could be done.

“Washouts or rock removals would be the responsibility of conservation organizations like ours,” says Jackson.

One of this biggest problems Jackson sees is that people being excited to build new trails, but not wanting to maintain them.

Jackson has been the president of Trailwrights for 23 years. They are a New Hampshire-based volunteer non-profit who maintain New England trails. He admits that within his profession, there aren’t to many die-hard maintenance people, but it is necessary.

“Maintenance is important, we have a total of seven miles of trail networks in there now,” he says, discussing the two new loop trails which have been added to the park.

But it doesn’t end there. Jackson says through correlation with other conservation people in other towns, places like Pearl Hill State Park could interconnect with other corridors in Ashby, Pepperell and other communities.

“Acquisition depends on who owns them, but the volunteers still need to be there,” he says.

Friends of Willard Brook Board Member Sussie Holzberlein, who will be co-leading the work day with Jackson, says connectedness benefits the community.

“Trails, rail trails especially, give people alternate avenues to places other than where they live,” she says.

Through both the Friends of Willard Brook and Trailwrights, a non-profit organization of which Jackson is president, they have worked on maintenance and creation of trails in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, for the Boy Scouts and other outdoors clubs and even more serious terrain like Mt. Monadonock, Mt. Tom and parts of the Appalachian Range.

Apart from delving into the sciences of erosion, trail design, bridge building, rock step construction and drainage, the pair have a simple philosophy behind trails.

“I enjoy them, and I want to share my love of them with others,” Holzberlein says.

Jackson says they are practical in today’s world.

“Education-wise, in order to appreciate nature in its beauty and abundance, there needs to be a guided process, quite simply, so people do not get lost,” he says.

“Trails do that by providing the comfort to enjoy and experience nature.”

The Friends Trail Party is taking place on Saturday, Aug. 20. Jackson’s group will begin at Pearl Hill and shove off at 8:30 a.m. Holzberlein’s group is meeting at 9:15 a.m. at Daman Pond. Both parties are expected to work until about 4:00 p.m. but any volunteer time given will be much appreciated. Just meet them along the trail.

Although the Friends of Willard Brook will be bringing tools, gloves, water, snacks or a lunch, sturdy shoes are recommended. In case of overcast weather, also bring a raincoat and a change of clothes, Jackson says he will call off the event if it is too severe.

To reach Ray Jackson regarding the event or becoming an adopter, call 978-597-8813. Sussie Holzberlein can be reached at 978-502-6137. Friends of Willard Brook can be found at or through e-mail at

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