Peak Foliage

Peak Foliage
October on Preston Pond

Brief History of Preston Pond

Born from glaciers about 13,500 years ago, the original pond was only what is now the wider north end. Probably about 10,000 years ago, as the modern forest started to take root, beavers colonized the pond and expanded it (old dams are under the water surface).

With the arrival of Europeans in New York and coastal New England, a vigorous fur trade grew in the 17th Century. Beavers are particularly vulnerable to trapping since they are easy to find and they were wiped out by the 18th Century. With no beavers to maintain the dams, Preston Pond drained and appears on 18th and 19th Century maps as only the smaller original glacial north end.

Reintroduction in the 1920's and 1930's led to beavers recolonizing Preston Pond. By chance, they arrived the same year my grandfather bought the property in 1946. Ever since then, beavers have lived unmolested (by humans) on Preston Pond - until February 2016. They have never caused flooding problems or over-eaten the surrounding forest stand to the point that they abandoned the pond. Their population has doubtlessly had its ups and downs, but they have managed their affairs here for the last 70 years as beavers did for millions of years: on their own, despite some of their top predators having been exterminated by humans.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Breaking news yesterday (third hand - will try to confirm when I get a chance): a beaver was seen on Preston Pond. We only knew for certain that there were two there last year (saw two at a time), but presumed there were likely four or possibly five or six. Three (two on Preston Pond and one on the Upper Pond) including the adult male (pictured here Feb 12) were just killed by a trapper last month: the first trapping in Preston Pond since the colony was established in 1946. Permission for these recreational kills was given by the Select Board (3 yes, 1 no, 1 abstention with an open admission that there was no wildlife management rationale for trapping).
The SB also gave permission to trap for fisher, with the same wildlife management reasoning (none) - reportedly (trying to confirm) only 20 feet from hiking trails. We are not overrun with fisher last I noticed: I've seen one here - ever (though I saw some sign this year - well away from where the trapper wanted to place his traps). As far as I know, no fisher traps were put out, but it will be interesting to know if indeed permission  was granted for them to be as close as 20 ft from trails. Fisher traps are often in trees, so not a particular safety concern for dogs etc, but traps for bobcat, coyote, otter, mink, and weasels anywhere near trails would pose a risk to other trail users, not to mention bird hunters' dogs. Now the Select Board's apparent new-found enthusiasm to allow and seemingly to even encourage recreational trapping where none has occurred for generations and in close proximity to popular hiking trails could make one wonder what priorities drive some members of the Select Board and Conservation Commissions (much of the VT Trappers Association was invited to the January 18 Conservation Commission meeting on the subject and many out of town trappers attended).

So now at least we know for certain that there is at least one beaver left and likely more. Will keep an eye peeled as the ice melts (I've been hiking south of the pond lately avoiding the trails due to mud). BTW: the lady who reported the sighting said her dog also went through the ice, so if anyone needed a caution: don't go on the ice. It never got more than about 3" thick in most places this winter (less in others) and has gotten pretty rotten.

If you need further proof, I saw several salamanders (Red-spotted Newts) running around yesterday in the shallows of the abandoned beaver pond on the old LT.

The old LT has so little traffic on it now that it is in excellent shape even with the melt. Yesterday I headed out to explore the beaver pond up in the hills that is on the trail. My intention was to skirt west (upslope) of the pond and then bushwhack up to the ridge top and ridge walk back north to Blueberry Hill and back down to the house. 3 hours with photo stops (I make a lot). About 4 or 5 miles or so, but with 1,540 ft of climbing.

The newts were in the now abandoned beaver pond near the far left of the image on the bottom of the loop. The old LT passes the east end of the pond. I veered off and bushwhacked up to the ridge and headed home.

Oh and another beast was out (along with loads of water bugs, caddis fly larvae and little critters I'd need to stop with a dip net and hand lens for - the ponds are waking up!). I also found some interesting rock exposures on Blueberry hill: ancient metamorphosed sedimentary rocks with the bedding layers split apart by frost and time. I'll dig them out (the shots that is, not the rocks) and post them later along with the ancient stream bed (at least 450 - 500 million years old) that is near the Pudding Stone Pond.


  1. Hello neighbors,

    My name is Matthew Mead and I live in bolton. Let me start by saying in no way is this an attack on Rob or anyone opposed to trapping at Preston pond. I think freedom of speach is important and we all deserve the right to believe what we want. I am a trapper ("the trapper") a sportsman, outdoorsman, conservationist, hunter, fisherman, father and a part of this community. Living of the land is a huge part of my family's life and I choose to raise my kids being a part of the same way of life I was raised being a part of. I take pride in harvesting a small portion of the renewable resource that belongs to all of us to benifit my family. I do not take part in "recreational killing" as its called above. I am a trapper. Trappers are held to a higher standard than other outdoorsman and are more heavily regulated than any other outdoor pursuit. Please allow me to talk for a minute about a few things that have been brought up about me and the whole issue of trapping at P.P.

    First let me say P.P. has four active beaver houses. Two on the lower and two on the upper pond. Each house has anywhere from 2-10 beavers at a given time. Over the winter I took three male beavers from two of the four houses. Two from the lower pond, one from the upper pond. This in now way puts a negative affect on the overall population of the pond. Walk around and look. All the young growth beavers depend on for food are gone! They are starting to travel a long ways from the water to cut huge old growth trees for food, which is not what they normally eat. This type of older growth forest does not support beavers and many other species also depend on the young growth and mixed habitat. Taking a few beavers keeps the numbers low enough that the trees can rebound quicker and actually helps the beavers themselves. If trappers didn't do that belive it takes place in nature in a much more gruesome way! In the f.p.f. post from this week it is stated that all the beavers are gone from the pond due to being trapped out completely this winter. This page says that someone saw one beaver. There are plenty of beavers left in the pond! The way beavers move around (mostly at night) you very rarely ever see more than one or maybe two at a time unless you went out at night with a spotlight. (Which is illegal).

    My biggest thing is please educate yourselves! All due respect, Rob is not a biologist or beaver expert or educated about trapping at all. So this is all one persons opinon. Take it as such.

  2. I as a trapper spend lots of time studying, watching, scouting, and learning everything I can about an area and get to know what animals live there and how they move and feed and get the best idea I can on how healthy the population is before I ever decide whether or not to even set a trap. I have a respect and relationship with these animals that none of you even begin to understand. I'm sure it's hard for you to understand how I can love respect and enjoy these animals and also decide to harvest them. But I spend more time and money every year than most of you, conserving land and habitat that makes sure these animals thrive. I work closely with fish and game, state biologists, farmers and land owners to make sure I am harvesting responsibly. I take pride in being a trapper. I more than you don't want to over trap any area and only harvest animals when it can be done in a safe responsible way. As far as p.p. I only set beaver traps, which are under the ice and pose absolutely zero risk to the public or pets contrary to all the posts everywhere recently attacking me. Trapping is legal in vt statewide. Regardless of whatever distance frombtrail restriction the town puts on trappers, no self respecting trapper would ever set traps anywhere near a trail or anywhere that had human traffic. happens all around you every year and you don't ever hear anything about it. What does that mean? Well, people and dogs don't get caught in traps!! It may be hard to understand how you can set a trap and know what will step in it but it is possible and I do it successfully every year. Education on trapping is something that I am trying to get out and make it easier for people to access the truth. I will be bringing some books and info the c.c. meeting Monday for anyone who wants it and also invite anyone who wants to know more to come to my home and I will show you about how we set traps in a safe way that is species specific.

    Fur is a renewable resource and provides my family with many benifit that go way beyond the money value of the fur. We take pride in respecting every animal we take. We use every scrap of meat and fur all the way down to the carcasses. I tan and make a lot items from fur that I use daily. It's not "recreational killing" or "Comercial trapping" its a way of life. Living of the land. We also hunt and fish and sugar and log and cut firewood and raise animals. It's probably the "greenest", healthiest way of living I know of. Everyone's need for everything at their finger tips and bigger everything does way more harm to wildlife than I ever will.

  3. I'm not sure how it's being said this is not an attack on trapping, only trapping here. And not hunting or guns, just trapping here. Putting out false info and making a situation sound way worse than it is hurts both trapping and hunting in so many ways. Personally I feel way safer with a trap under the ice than bullets flying around. And this post mentions bird hunters dogs, which I trap same places bird hunters use with no issues. One hunter showed me once

  4. how his dog would never get in a trap and let him go all over my set in front of me, amazing to watch! But why is it nobody has a problem killing anything until it comes to beavers which p.p. has TONS of!? I don't get it...

    And as far as the picture, it may or may not be me, just like the otter photos and video it only shows a close up of an animal and nothing in the background to show its even at p.p. and as far as this being the same beaver colony since 1946, that's not the way beavers work. Again educate yourselves. Beavers stay in an area until they eat all the feed around them and then move on to fresh ground. As soon as they leave the young trees grow back and new beavers come in. Sometimes that may only take two years. But there has not been all those beavers for all that time. There wouldn't be a tree in sight if that was the case...let's use common sense people and please please if you take the time to get

  5. upset about it, take the time to learn about it.

    Trapping is legal. And takes place on all the state land that all the other trails in bolton and every other town go through, not to mention all the private land with no issue. Our wardens and biologists work hard to make sure that animal populations are healthy and that trapping is regulated in a way that supports population growth or sustainability and also keeps the public safe. Not sure why people with no knowledge on the situation other then living next door are thinking they know better than the people who have spent their lives and careers studying the issue.

    To the point of trappers association being invited to the s.b. meeting and big numbers of out of town trappers showed up. There was six of us. It's public record. Just google search it. P.o.w. who is not from bolton and who's only focus is on stopping all trapping

  6. was there in numbers and refused to sign the log. Also this online petition has lots of support from pow and another group called keep Montana trap free. Seems funny people from Montana should have anything to do with it.

    I have been a quiet observer for months now not saying a word. But this last round of fpf and fb posts and this blog have so many things that just aren't true it's hard not to say anything.

    Thanks for reading.