Birding on the Blackstone

Press Release
Contact: Charlene Perkins Cutler, Executive Director

BHC Announces Bi-State “Birding on the Blackstone” Program

Volunteers will lead spring bird walks in MA and RI parks of the National Heritage Corridor
A flock of volunteers will lead a “Birding on the Blackstone” program this spring in parks in both the Massachusetts and Rhode Island portions of the National Heritage Corridor. Pictured here (left to right) are Paul Milke, Beth Milke and Rosanne Sherry.
Whitinsville, MA (March 8, 2017) – Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces a spring birding program that will take curious birders to parks in the National Heritage Corridor during the height of migration season.

The weekend bird walks will fall on Saturdays and Sundays between April 23 and June 4 and will run from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. The walks are led by BHC’s Volunteers-in-Parks program members Rosanne Sherry of N. Smithfield, RI, and Beth and Paul Milke of Uxbridge, MA. The three of them met during a bird walk program last fall and are collaborating on this new program and other events throughout the year.

Birding on the Blackstone kicks off on Sunday, April 23 along the Blackstone River Bikeway in Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI. The walk begins at the I-295 Visitors
Center in Lincoln and is led by Rosanne Sherry. Participants will watch for territorial activity and early nest building. On Saturday, April 29, Beth & Paul Milke lead a bird walk at River Bend Farm at the Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA. The Milkes will take birders along the field and woodland edges of the farm looking for bird species that usually arrive in early spring such as Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Towhee and possibly Yellow-Rumped Warbler. On Sunday, April 30, Rosanne returns to the Blackstone River Bikeway in Lincoln, RI, when she expects migration and nesting will be in full swing. “Baltimore Orioles and Rose-Breasted Grosebeaks may be in the area,” she predicts. “We’ll likely see Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles fighting for territory in the marsh area under Route 295.”

On Sunday, May 7, Rosanne, Beth and Paul join together at the new Blackstone River Greenway, meeting at the Blackstone, MA, parking lot on Canal Street. This is the first official bird walk on the newly completed section of the Greenway. The trio will lead walkers to search for Bald Eagles, water birds, and song birds. On Sunday, May 21, Rosanne travels to a new location at the Ten Mile River Greenway in Pawtucket, RI, where birders will meet her at the parking lot by the Loof Carousel in Slater Park. According to Rosanne, the river is calm in this location and birders may see many Warblers and other land birds in the woodland and marshes. “We’ll look and listen for Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren and Eastern Bluebirds,” she notes. On Saturday, May 27, Rosanne, Beth and Paul meet up at River Bend Farm again in Uxbridge, MA, to take birders out to the fields where the trio expects participants will view Orioles, Flycatchers, Grosbeaks and Warblers. “There’s a chance we’ll also hear and see Black-billed Cuckoo and Indigo Bunting, too!” they announced.

On Saturday, June 3, the Milkes will take birders to West Hill Dam and Park in Uxbridge (518 E. Hartford Ave.). “The West Hill Park walk will take us from the top of the dam, over the river and through the woods to survey birds on the park’s reclaimed grassland,” Beth notes. “We’ll hope to find Prairie Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow. Warbling Vireos should be calling near the marsh where we’ll look for Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons.” The spring birding series concludes on Sunday, June 4, at the Blackstone River Bikeway in Lincoln, RI, with Rosanne, who predicts the walk may be quiet as birds nest or feed their young, but that the group will look for signs of productivity. “We will follow up on the Eastern Phoebe and the Northern Rough-Wing Swallow who nest near the foot bridges,” she points out. “American Robin and Gray Catbird nests may be spotted, and we may even see who is fishing in the river.”
According to Suzanne Buchanan, Volunteer Coordinator at BHC, this program speaks volumes about the possibilities for volunteers who join the program. “Rosanne came forward over a year ago, expressing interest in offering bird walks to share her knowledge and passion for birding,” she explains. “After her first series in Rhode Island along the Blackstone River Bikeway, she created one at River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, MA, that fall and that is where she met Beth and Paul Milke. It was kismet. The three have become great friends and plan programs together. Whatever skill or interest you have, chances are we can find an opportunity for you to share that through our Volunteers-in-Parks program.”

To participate in one of the scheduled bird walks in Rhode Island, register at or call BHC at 508-234-4242. To register for one of the bird walks in Massachusetts, email or call River Bend Farm at 508-278-7604. Further directions will be sent upon registration. If there is rain at the time of the program, it is canceled. Binoculars and field guides are suggested. Children 12 years and older are welcome on all programs. A complimentary Blackstone Valley Adventure Pack will be given to those who pre-register, while supplies last. All walks are listed on BHC’s events page at

The Birding the Blackstone program is presented by BHC in partnership with the National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR).

Volunteerism on the Rise in Blackstone Heritage Corridor


 Press Release              


Contact:  Charlene Perkins Cutler, Executive Director



Volunteerism on the Rise in Blackstone Heritage Corridor

BHC Releases Inspiring Year-End Volunteer Report

Blackstone Valley (October 27, 2016) – A year-end report filed by Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) for its National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) program reveals that volunteerism is on the rise in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

For fiscal year 2015-2016, a total of 1,283 volunteers donated their time to a number of programs for a total of 13,431 hours, a significant increase from the previous year with 6,651 hours recorded for 146 volunteers. The dollar value of a volunteer’s time for fiscal year 2015-2016, at $23.56 per hour, came to the considerable sum of $316,434.

“We are thrilled to see the increase in volunteerism here in the Blackstone Heritage Corridor,” remarked Charlene Perkins Cutler, BHC’s Executive Director. “Since our relocation to Whitinsville, MA, this past spring, interest in our organization has spiked considerably.”

BHC manages the Volunteers-in-Parks program for the National Park Service. Nationally, VIPs work side-by-side with National Park Service employees and partners in parks across the nation to help preserve the nation’s most precious natural, historical, recreational and cultural treasures. Locally, volunteers are placed throughout the 25 communities of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and the historic nodes of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

With the launch of its Trash Responsibly™ program last fall, volunteer numbers started to increase with the cleanup events BHC spearheaded and partnered with throughout the National Heritage Corridor. With this program alone, 907 volunteers signed up as one-day volunteers for 22 cleanup events and gave 4,066 hours of their time. BHC also launched a corporate “Day of Service” program, working with local companies and employees to make a difference in the communities that they live or work in. From cleaning historic sites inside and out, to landscaping the grounds, 58 employees from five companies gave 203 volunteer hours.

According to Suzanne Buchanan, BHC’s Volunteer Coordinator, many of BHC’s long-term VIPs incorporated the Centennial celebration of the National Park Service into popular programs including weekly paddles with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club, exploring many tributaries of the Blackstone River. In partnership with the VIPs, three National Park Service Ranger interpretive paddles were held this past season, highlighting Slatersville Reservoir, Hopedale Pond and the Blackstone Canal. In addition, there were weekly bike rides with the Blackstone River Bikeway Patrol, exploring all the bikeways within the boundaries of the National Heritage Corridor, including three “Ride with a Ranger” interpretive tours on the Blackstone River Bikeway highlighting the historical significance of the Blackstone River and Canal.

“This was an exciting year for the volunteer program,” remarked Buchanan. “Several people came forward wanting to offer new programs, including “Birding on the Blackstone” by VIP Rosanne Sherry offered in the spring at the Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, and in the fall at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park (River Bend Farm) in Uxbridge, MA. Volunteers from Trout Unlimited Chapter 737 in Rhode Island partnered with the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone and offered a day-long fly fishing school along the banks of the Blackstone River.”

BHC’s second annual GO! program in September gave the opportunity for 66 volunteers to lead experiences throughout the National Heritage Corridor, ranging from a full moon walk, guided tours through historic cemeteries, interpretive walking tours at places like the Millville Lock and Triad Bridges, and much more.

A big jump in volunteer numbers came by way of a youth service project sponsored by Youth Unlimited of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Volunteers, 104 in total, were hosted by the Pleasant Street Christian Reform Church and registered as VIPs for a week of service in the communities of Northbridge, Uxbridge, Millville, Douglas and Grafton, MA. A total of 3,168 volunteer hours were tallied as they tended to site maintenance at the Millville Lock, trail work at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park/River Bend Farm, and more. This was the first of a three-year commitment from Whitinsville Serve, with more volunteers returning the summer of 2017.

The VIP program also benefitted financially from one volunteer’s former employer. Joe Richer, a Woonsocket, RI-resident, worked for Pfizer prior to his retirement and when he decided he wanted to volunteer to stay active, he remembered the Pfizer Foundation Volunteer Program which encourages volunteerism among Pfizer colleagues and retirees and helps them obtain grants for non-profits where they regularly volunteer. Richer volunteered at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park/River Bend Farm and at the Capt. Wilbur Kelly House Transportation Museum, and after meeting Pfizer’s requirements (employees must volunteer for at least six months and serve an average of six hours per month for a minimum of 72 total hours) Richer worked with Buchanan to apply for the grant. BHC received a check for $1,000 from Pfizer in October, which will be applied to the volunteer program for supplies.

“We are also pleased to play a part in helping volunteers move along their career path by way of volunteering with us,” Buchanan added. “I just got an email from one of our volunteers, Blake Stone, letting me know he was just accepted into a Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) program at Death Valley National Park. He used his experience volunteering this summer with Coes Zone in Worcester, MA, helping with water quality programs.”

“I knew that practicing skills in water resource management would be beneficial to both myself and the watershed,” Blake Stone said. “I enjoy researching water quality, and having the opportunity to volunteer as a citizen scientist in the Blackstone River Valley helped me in preparing my application to the Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) program at Death Valley National Park.  I am proud to have begun my VIP experience with the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, and I recommend getting involved with your local park no matter what your background and interests may be.”

BHC hosts monthly Volunteer Open House events with the next ones scheduled for Monday, November 14, 2016 at 6:30 p.m., and again on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 6:30 p.m., at its offices at Linwood Mill, 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, MA. To register, call Suzanne Buchanan at 508-234-4242 or email To learn more about BHC, visit


About Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc.:

An energetic nonprofit, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. partners with organizations, local communities, businesses and residents to ensure the long term vitality of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Learn more at


Alex & Ani – Day of Service at Kelly House Museum

A magical day of “Making a Difference” volunteering at the Capt. Wilbur Kelly House Museum gardens. Thank you Team (+) Impact ALEX AND ANI for offering to make a difference. Teamwork at its best!!

If you or your organization is interested in a Day of Service in the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Suzanne Buchanan at