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November 29, 2014

The Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network 2014 Awards

Congratulations to the Friends Network 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award Recipients and to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) 2014 DCR Friend of the Year Award Recipients!

The Friends Network Volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed upon an individual or group who deserves special recognition for extraordinary work on behalf of DCR forests, parks, beaches or trails. Volunteers who qualify for the Friends Network Volunteer of the Year Award may have:

  • Developed or maintained a program
  • Maintained grounds/facilities
  • Helped preserve cultural and/or natural resources/wildlife
  • Recruited new volunteers
  • Assisted in growing and developing the group's community profile
  • Engaged new members and sponsors
  • Demonstrated outstanding leadership

 

The Friends Network 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award Recipients

Frank Evans on Bulldozer

Frank Evans during Park Serve Day, Upton State ForestFrank Evans during Park Serve Day, Upton State Forest

Frank Evans, Co-founder, Friends of Upton State Forest; CCC Alumnus
Nominated by Friends of Upton State Forest

Frank is a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) alumnus who helped build Mt Tom State Reservation during his service with the CCC. For many years, he has worked to promote the CCC Legacy as a public member of the DCR CCC Program Committee. He traveled throughout the state to meetings and CCC events, and met with public officials and legislators on his own.

In 2005, Frank joined with three Upton residents to found the Friends of Upton State Forest. The Friends mission is "To preserve, enhance, and protect the natural and historic resources of Upton State Forest." Frank has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Friends. He is the first one to show up for work parties, continues to attend meetings and to promote the CCC Legacy. He has volunteered every year, for the annual third grade, daylong CCC educational program at the Camp. Frank and his wife, Alice, have supported projects such as rebuilding the porch at the CCC Headquarters building, and restoration of original CCC planning documents. Frank is an inspiration and example for all of us who volunteer for the benefit or our state parks and forests.

Mike Ryan with Friends of the Fells Fox

Mike Ryan with Friends of the Fells Fox

Mike Ryan, Executive Director, Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, Co-founder of the Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network
Nominated by the Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation

Massachusetts Friends Network 2014 DCR Friend of the Year Award Recipients

The Friends Network DCR Friend of the Year Award is presented yearly to Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) employees or agencies that have demonstrated exemplary effort on behalf of Massachusetts' forests, parks, beaches and trails, or Friends groups. All DCR employees are eligible for this award. The award is based on excellence in the following areas:

  • Work Performance
  • Judgment
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Support for Friends Groups
  • Citizen/Community Relations

Cary VandenAkkerCary VandenAkker with Alyse Aubin and Karen Ober. How cute does he look next to the pony!!

Cary VandenAkker, DCR Supervisor, Douglas State Forest
Nominated by Bay State Trail Riders Association, Inc. and Friends of Upton State Forest
Cary has a history of many years in working with our trail improvement volunteers as well as being user friendly with those who ride horseback on DCR properties. He is always easy-going, assessable, helpful, efficient and hardworking.

Karl Pastore Friends Network Award RecipientKarl Pastore (right) with the DCR Commissioner Murray (left) and Ernestina Commissioner Fred Sterner.

Karl Pastore helping with Schooner Ernestina's nameboardKarl Pastore with nameboard. Doug Leab, Jessica Pinho, Ernestina Commissioner Fred Sterner, Karl Pastore, unveiling the new quarterboard for Ernestina-Morrissey.

Karl Pastore, South Region Director, Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Nominated by the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc.
Karl serves as the DCR representative to the Schooner Ernestina Commission. Karl understands her importance and... has worked to insure that the ship renewed her Dock-side Attraction certification from the Coast Guard and that deferred but critical maintenance was completed. Karl has also made sure the ship was staffed with a seasonal interpreter providing the DCR presence for SEMA volunteers to offer tours and "Open Ship." Karl provided the staff to work with SEMA volunteers both on ParkServe Day and the National Park's "Lend a Hand" work days. Then Karl worked with SEMA  so that the ship could be open to visitors for 10 days while the "Morgan Homecoming" was going on. Over the past two years Karl has worked with the Schooner Ernestina Commission and SEMA and Commissioner Murray on this project. Karl has listened, coordinated, followed up on promises, seen work done to completion, and has been a wonderful partner.

Don Watt, DCR Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park
Don Watt, DCR Blackstone River
and Canal Heritage State Park

Val Stegemoen
Val Stegemoen (center)
DCR Field Operations Team Leader with

Cary VandenAkkerCary VanenAkker

Upton State Forest CCC National Registry Document

Third Grade Flag Raising at Upton State Forest with Frank Evens
Third Grade Flag Raising with Frank Evens at Upton State Forest, now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Don Watt, Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park

Val Stegemoen, DCR Field Operations Team Leader

Cary VandenAkker, Douglas State Forest

Nominated by Friends of Upton State Forest

Friends of Upton State Forest are nominating three DCR employees for their recognition and reaction to a situation at our CCC Camp at Upton State Forest. The camp represents the last place in Massachusetts that has a surviving Civilian Conservation Corps Headquarters Building with a parade ground and footprint that identifies the entire camp layout from the 1930s. On October 8 of 2014, the Massachusetts Historical Commission added the camp, the buildings, and a corridor of CCC resources to the National Historic Register.

February 2014 had multiple snow falls in succession with temperatures remaining below freezing.  By Thursday 2/13, snow load had accumulated to about two feet deep of light powdered snow on the roofs of many buildings in the Blackstone Valley.   DCR Field Operations Team Leader Val Stegemoen called in his end of shift status for the Storm Desk to Central Valley District Manager Chris Hookie.  They discussed the DCR protocol established for the Historic CCC buildings at Upton State Forest which is to monitor snow pack on roofs: 8" wet, 14" moderately wet or 30" regular snow accumulations should be reported. 

Since precipitation was expected to continue throughout the evening, the maximum threshold was likely to be reached by the next morning and a crew might be needed.  With the possibility of snow turning to rain over night it was authorized by management to clear what could be done that evening.  Stegemoen called upon support from Cary VandenAkker of Douglas State Forest and Don Watt of Blackstone Heritage State Park after each had spent the entire workday plowing and moving snow. 

The three of them returned to work as a team clearing as much as could be reached with roof rakes from two buildings in Upton.  In the morning, other DCR staff and a contracted crew were on site to assess situation and complete the clearing of roofs to the peak. 

Some would say that Val, Don and Cary were just doing their job. We feel that they exemplify a dedication and work ethic held by many DCR employees. We are especially grateful that they recognized, reported and acted because it would have been a tragedy to lose any more of the camp. The history of the Stewardship Legacy of the CCC is alive and represented there through interpretation. In addition, FUSF, DCR and the Upton Historical Commission have invested time and funds to nominate the camp for the National Historic Register and to do stabilization work there. The actions of Val, Don and Cary saved the buildings and validated the investment of time and funding.

Tim Mello
Tim Mello, DCR Supervisor, Freetown-Fall River State Forest

Tim Mello, Supervisor, Freetown-Fall River State Forest /SE Mass Bioreserve
Nominated by the Friends of Freetown–Fall River State Forest
Tim has displayed all the listed qualities as an employee of DCR. Tim stepped into the position of supervisor after Steve Bates stepped dowm. He seamlessly filled the position. Tim has been exremely cooperative with the Friends and all user groups here at Freetown. He is willing to pitch in along side any work party. He provided a knowledge and care for the environment. Tim has been our go to guy for many years. Unfortunately for the Friends, and fortunately for him, he is retiring from DCR in the near future after over 30 years of service!