Great Mountain Forest September 2021
In this issue:
Ecosystem Services at GMF
What does the Forest ask of us?
Plant of the month: Fringed gentian
Forest Fête
Fall into Yoga @ the Forest
Tour de Forest
GMF at Your Service:
How the Forest Provides Ecosystem Services
Great Mountain Forest provides valuable services by just being here.

These include forest products such as timber, maple syrup, and witch hazel; GMF's carbon storage and sequestration program; its support of diverse wildlife and plant species; its resilience enhanced by our sustainable forest management practices; and being a place of great wonder, with beauty and awe on every trail.

Natural benefits like these are known as ecosystem services, the products and processes the environment produces that support life, including human life. Failing to steward the earth's resources and appreciate the heavy lifting they do on our behalf equals jeopardizing our own existence.

To recognize this is to see that GMF's biodiversity and rich habitats make it an environmental workhorse with life-giving and life-sustaining value.

Unfortunately, ecosystem services are constantly threatened by human activities and economic gain in many areas of the country and the world. These services are also hard to replicate by human effort.

According to the Ecological Society of America, this natural labor is often perceived as "free" but is actually worth billions of dollars to our economy.
Four Categories of Ecosystem Services
The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) classifies ecosystem services into four categories.

GMF checks all the boxes for its services throughout its 6,200 acres of woodland, wetlands, ponds, open spaces, and 13 miles of trails.
Provisioning Services
These are direct products provided by nature to humans, such as fruits and vegetables and livestock.

At GMF, they include trees, fish, pure water, timber, wood fuel, medicinal plants such as witch hazel, and of course, maple syrup!
Regulating Services
Regulating services make life possible for humans.

GMF possesses abundant regulating services. Plants and trees clean the air and filter water, bacteria decompose matter, bees pollinate, and tree roots hold soil and prevent erosion.

We have A LOT of tree roots holding things in place!
Cultural Services
These are the cultural, intellectual, social, spiritual, and restorative benefits nature provides. They provide a non-material benefit but help build knowledge, create community, and provide recreation and connection.

By providing a setting for recreation, education, and research, GMF fulfills this important function and is here for all who love the woods.
Supporting Services
Supporting services are the natural processes that underpin the ecosystem and sustain life forms.

At GMF, this includes photosynthesis, the nutrient cycle, soil creation, the water cycle, and carbon storage and sequestration.

There's so much going on at GMF that we may not always see, but rest assured, the forest never rests. It's always at your service.
Reciprocity: What Does the Earth Ask of Us?
Robin Wall Kimmerer is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY ESF. She has written the foreword for Orion Magazine's recently-published book Old Growth.
Robin Wall Kimmerer has a different take on ecosystem services. As a plant ecologist, writer, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she questions the characterization of what the earth offers us as ecosystem services as if they are part of an endless mechanized system.

For Kimmerer, they are gifts bestowed by other beings. She writes, "Though we live in a world of gifts, we find ourselves harnessed to institutions and an economy that relentlessly asks, "What more can we take from the earth?" This worldview of unbridled exploitation is the greatest threat to the life that surrounds us. Even our definitions of sustainability revolve around trying to find the formula to ensure we can keep taking, far into the future. Isn't the question we need, "What does the earth ask of us?"

To read the full article Returning the Gift, click here.
Forest Fête Brings Forest Friends Together
The GMF Shelter was bustling with conversation and gratitude for the Forest at the Forest Fête in early September. The evening held a hint of the autumn weather to come, and the rustic structure felt like a life-size fairy house with twinkling lights streamed across the wood-beamed ceiling. Fresh cut flowers adorned the hearth boasting a blazing fire.

Great Barrington-based MoonCloud created a sumptuous spread for attendees. Foraging in the forest has been easier or more delicious!
GMF is grateful to the event committee, board members, and staff who made the Fête possible and for the 140 friends of the forest who attended. We are thankful for all our supporters, who show their affection for the Forest in myriad ways, all of which are so appreciated.

The Forest is here--for you. And judging by the success of the Fête--you're here for it!
Plant of the Month
Fringed gentian
Fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) is a biennial fall-flowering plant. It grows 8-24 inches tall with striking blue four-petaled brushlike flowers that open during the day and close at night.

It even has a poem dedicated to it. William Cullen Bryant wrote To the Fringed Gentian.

Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.

Read the rest of the poem here.
Upcoming Events at GMF
Fall into Yoga @ the Forest
Join us for yoga with Theresa on the Mountain Office Lawn on Saturday, September 25 at 9 a.m.

For more information and to register, click here.
Tour de Forest: Ride for Two Worthy Causes
Tour de Forest is an all-age, all-level 13-mile recreational ride along beautiful country roads, passing lakes, ponds, fields, and historic homes before heading into the Great Mountain Forest.

Take a break at any of the 8 info stops along the route loaded with fun facts about the forest and local railroad history.

The ride is presented by Norfolk Rails to Trails, and all proceeds benefit Rails to Trails and Great Mountain Forest.
Forest Notices

Welcome to the forest!

GMF is a place of peaceful co-existence for everyone

  • Keep your dog on a leash and if you pack it in--pack it out.

  • Sign in at kiosks at the East and West Gates.

  • Watch for inclement weather notices on social media.

If you have any questions, email
Stand with the Trees!
Donate to Great Mountain Forest.
Your generosity makes our work possible!
GMF is critical to the environmental and economic sustainability of the region as well as an important contributor to research and education about climate change and environmental health. Help us support the forest as a vital natural resource and a place for those who love the woods.