To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the reserve. The guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas and her recent experience visiting one of our sister Reserves. Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)
DNERR Invades Greenland–NH, That Is!
While on vacation, it is always nice to go where like-minded people gather. This DNERR volunteer, while recently staying in the Seacoast New Hampshire area, decided to pay a visit one morning, in the company of some other family members, to the Great Bay NERR in Greenland. Our party, on getting out of the car, was greeted by the distinctive drumming of a Pileated Woodpecker. A most auspicious start! We were also greeted with the view of a number of empty school buses already in the parking lot. (Like DNERR, like GBNERR!)
By arrangement, I sought out Kelle Loughlin, Director of the Great Bay Discovery Center and also their Education Coordinator, making her “the Maggie Pletta of GBNERR.” Though many things were going on that morning, including a visit by the aforementioned groups of students, she greeted us warmly and also took the time to introduce us to other staffers in the office. Also in the office at that time, and introduced to us, was Peter Wellenberger, Executive Director of the Great Bay Stewards, which is GBNERR’s “friends” organization. Kelle then graciously gave our party a tour of the Reserve’s facilities.
Kelle made special note of the many “green” efforts at GBNERR, which had as their inspiration the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center located next-door to the Discovery Center. She cited such on-site green initiatives as: composting toilets; rain barrels; porous-pavement parking-lots; geothermal heating and cooling; and solar-metal roofs.
As she led the way from the Discovery Center to the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center, she pointed out, between the two buildings, a beautifully landscaped waterfall and stream. She explained they are fed by the geothermal well and operate on a circulating system.
We were shown the Coastal Conservation Center’s main space for programs, and we were also guided to the lower floor of the building, which houses their Special Collections. The collections are comprised of exhibits on the history of local hunting, fishing, and trapping. Kelle also opened and showed to us the Great Bay Country Store, a teaching-space for lessons about where food and other products come from, and how they are distributed, using the inventory of an old-time general store as its theme.
Back outside, we found ourselves standing between a replica Gundalow (a New England cargo vessel of the 19th century) and a more modern boat cleverly named “The NERR Miss,” both now on land for visitor exploration. While we stood there, gazing about, we were told GBNERR’s boardwalk is being replaced, beginning this fall, a major effort made possible by significant grant-funding and fundraising.
After having spent the time with us, Kelle graciously excused herself to return to the Discovery Center to resume her day’s scheduled duties, but not before she pointed our party in the direction of that soon-to-be-replaced boardwalk (to our left) and the path to the beach on Great Bay (to our right). Standing at the base of that Y, with decisions to make, we were feeling overwhelmed…but in a good way!
We wandered out-and-back along the boardwalk (sometimes against the incoming and outgoing waves of school children and their instructors), then meandered along the path to the beach (with its rack of canoes and kayaks, and a group of visitors swarming about the boat shed), then returned to the Discovery Center and picked up an assortment of informative, freebie publications about GBNERR and other outdoors activities in New Hampshire, after which we perambulated outside for a little while longer. We inhaled the bay-water-and-forest-scented air and could easily imagine ourselves spending many more hours there, but the rest of our day’s agenda called. We reluctantly made our way to leave.
When pausing along the boardwalk, I happened to look down and found myself gazing into the dizzying, hypnotic “eye” of a “fern vortex.” The enchantment of the encounter was delightful, but I did not need any further persuading in order to reach this conclusion: Whether you are traveling in Delaware, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Florida, or beyond, the National Estuarine Research Reserve system is there. Be sure to include a NERR as part of your next vacation! You might see some familiar sights as well as gain some fresh, new ones.
Text and photos by M.L. Christmas
M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.
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