A Rainbow of Native Plants for Lake Mansfield

Good things are happening at Lake Mansfield!

Thank you to Great Barrington Department of Public Works for painting a rainbow crosswalk at the beach area. These cheerful crosswalks are helping us to stay positive! Rainbow crosswalks have also been painted downtown and in Housatonic. “The idea was to recognize and celebrate diversity in our community,” town manager Mark Pruhenski said in The Berkshire Edge interview. “The colors symbolize hope in a time of uncertainty.” 


Lake Mansfield rainbow


Also, this week we are moving forward with the second phase of habitat rehabilitation at the Knob Hill area. Thriving native plants not only support native pollinators but also contribute to the stability and health of the lake's ecosystem.

In our third installment of the Spring 2020 Lake Mansfield Newsletter below, Devan Arnold describes the habitat restoration plan that is funded by the Great Barrington Land Conservancy's Lake Mansfield Alliance.

Later this month the newsletter will be available to read in its entirety and download on our website. Please share these stories with your friends and family to help us to continue to strengthen our care of Lake Mansfield on behalf of our entire community. 

Be safe, stay healthy, and remember to connect with nature each day!

Christine Ward, Project Director




Knob Hill Habitat Restoration

by Devan Arnold, landscape designer at Sassafras Land Care, LLC

Devan planting

Great Barrington Land Conservancy, through its project with Lake Mansfield Alliance, funded the essential improvements to the Lake Mansfield habitat discussed below.

In the late spring of 2019, the triangle of land that forms the southeast tip of Knob Hill underwent a drastic transformation as part of a stormwater mitigation project by the Town of Great Barrington. The privately owned 2,400 square foot area at the bottom of the slope was stripped of vegetation and excavated to install new drains, basins, and underground piping. Though this project was a critical long-term investment for both the town and the lake, the loss of mature forest trees and associated understory vegetation was felt by the local human community and broader ecological community.

Native perennial vegetation serves an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystem processes like water filtration and soil stabilization, as well as providing important food and habitat resources to wildlife, pollinators, and other beneficial organisms. Recognizing that, the Great Barrington Land Conservancy partnered with the private landowner, the Town of Great Barrington, Ward’s Nursery and Garden Center, and Sassafras Land Care to replant the hillside with a suite of native species.

Knob Hill Restoration planting
Click here for a larger view of this image

In the fall of 2019, the first of two phases of planting were completed by Sassafras Land Care including twelve species of native trees and shrubs, several red oaks grown from acorns collected in the neighborhood, white oak, paper birch, serviceberry, black chokeberry, silky dogwood, witch hazel, spicebush, nine-bark, steeplebush, and arrowwood viburnum. 

The second phase of planting will take place in the late spring of 2020 and will involve adding a mix of native grasses, ferns, and wildflowers from thirteen different species to provide a diversity of blooms, textures, and beneficial habitats to the landscape. Grasses used for this site include big bluestem, tufted hairgrass, and Pennsylvania Sedge (not a true grass), while ferns include sensitive and wood ferns. Wildflowers include columbine, swamp milkweed, boneset, flat-top goldenrod, cardinal flower, brown eyed susan, bluewood aster, and New England Aster. 

Knob Hill Restoration photo simulation
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As this new patch of habitat establishes and matures it will provide important habitat and valuable food resources for pollinators and other crucial members of the ecological community while also satisfying the aesthetic needs of the neighborhood's many visitors. During the design process for this planting, a lake-side plant survey was conducted in order to develop a palette of existing and appropriate species for use in future restoration projects around Lake Mansfield. 

Donations to Lake Mansfield Alliance help us to move forward with this work and other habitat improvements. Visit: http://lakemansfield.org

To learn more about Sassafras Land Care, visit: www.sassafraslandcare.com




Devan Arnold


Devan Arnold is the owner and manager of Sassafras Land Care LLC, an ecological landscaping company that specializes in working with native New England perennial species and other hardy perennials to create more ecologically functional landscapes while enhancing the human experience and connection to those lands.







Lake Mansfield rainbow