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Friends of Myles Standish State Forest Meetup Group The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest.

The Friends' next Board meeting will take place Wednesday December 5th at 7PM in the MSSF Conference Building just up the road from MSSF headquarters. All members are invited.

What's going on in Myles Standish State Forest?

  • It's hunting season! Pheasant and quail started on the 15th of October and deer archery started on the 1st of October. As always, there is no hunting on Sundays! Deer shotgun season starts November 26th. Wearing blaze orange helps you be seen by hunters.

  • Public Meeting on Pine Barrens Restoration plan on December 5th at 5pm

DCR has announced a 10 year plan to treat 1,109 acres of forest land in the southern part of Myles Standish. This will involve cutting down white pines, thinning pitch pine density (by cutting), burning, mechanical clearing, etc. in areas surrounding Charge Pond and Fearing Pond, the Camp Cachalot easement and MassWildlife areas outside the forest. The campgrounds will not be closed. Trails may be closed while work is going on.

A map of the proposed sections was published by the DCR. The area to be treated includes several MassWildlife areas outside the forest. The plan is to treat sections in the order shows on the map. Two areas have already been cut.

The full 10 year pine barrens restoration proposal is viewable on the DCR website. The meeting will take place at 5pm on December 5th in the barn up the road from headquarters. Email and mailed comments are also solicited by the state. (see the full proposal.)

Friends 2018 Photo Contest Winners Announced

2018 Photo Contest Winners. 8 winning photos were chosen by judges from 19 entries. The photos were enlarged and displayed at the Fishing Derby.

path lined with tall pines in Myles Standish SF
The Path of Magic. Photo by Kelly Jones.
Location- Healthy Heart Trail (East Head Reservoir) Winner-Landscape
Jewel of the Forest. Photo by Justin Liebeskind.
Image of tiger beetle taken on Bentley Loop. Winner-Fauna
young kayaker in Barrett Pond
First solo. Photo by Kathleen O'Donnell.
Taken at Barrett Pond. Winner-Recreation
"Mushroom Family". Photo by Kathleen O'Donnell.
Taken at Barrett Pond. Winner-Flora
stumps in pond mist
"Early morning on Barrett Pond". Photo by Kathleen O'Donnell.
turtles in Myles Standish State Forest
Turtle Time. Photo by Jeanne Lesperance.
Taken off Lower College Pond Road. Winner-Fauna
pine warbler
Pine Warbler. Photo by Jeanne Lesperance.
Taken off Lower College Pond Road. Winner-Fauna
tree with multiple Elmo dolls attached
Elmos Tree. Photo by Betsy Hall.
Taken off Bentley Loop. Winner-Memorable Event
  • Our 12th Annual Fishing Derby at Fearing Pond took place on September 29th. Almost 400 registered to fish. We hope you all had fun and will be able to join us for another day of free fishing fun, prizes and activities next year! Thanks to MassWildlife and DCR, the Friends of Myles Standish State Forest and the Fearing Pond Cottage Association and all of our prize sponsors for another great year!

    The Friends' 2018 Take Me Fishin' Family Festival took place on September 29th.

    Blue skies and cool temperatures brought a big crowd of fishing families to Fearing Pond. Almost 400 registered to fish. The biggest fish of the day was a 16 1/4 inch trout. The winning fish was caught by James Rogers Jr. of Raynham.

    The trout had just been stocked two days earlier by MassWildlife. A total of 21 fishing kids won prizes.

    Practice casting DCR animal fur display

    Photos provided by Donna McBrien Photography. Many more on display at Donna's website

    The Friends want to thank all of the volunteers who came out to help us and all of the Derby sponsors, including Massachusetts DCR and Mass Wildlife, along with our generous prize donors.

    A magnificent July 4th day at College Pond and Fearing Pond

    4th of July Fearing Pond4th of July College Pond picnicsCollege Pond beach

    Friends' events coming up:

  • Off the Beaten Path hikes with John Bescherer are offered most Friday mornings. Sign up on Meetup. Hikes will be held every Friday at 9am at various locations in the park. (Check Meetup for the location.)

    The Friends' Annual Meeting was held Wednesday May 23rd at the Carver Sportsmen's Club.

    We had Blake Dinius, the newly hired Plymouth County Entomologist (bug expert) as guest Speaker. Blake did a lively presentation on "Ticks and their environment”. The talk reviewed the basic biology of ticks, tick habitats and tried to dispel commonly held myths. Most importantly, proven protection measures and prevention were discussed.

    Board elections were held. Most of the existing board volunteered to continue serving the Friends. Unfortunately, Bill Vickstrom has completed eight years on the board and will have to step down as President. We thanked him at the meeting for his service and dedication to the group. He plans to stick around and help but is up against our bylaw term limits. (Maximum of four two-year terms as a director. He can come back after a year.) We also thanked Thom Gifford and Roger Janson and all of our volunteers for their terrific efforts on the boardwalks. (see below) Karl Pastore of the DCR also spoke.

    Boardwalk Repairs Complete!

    The Friends are very proud to report that repairs on the two East Head boardwalks totaling more than a football field in length have been completed after a total of 9 working days led by Roger Janson, Thom Gifford and John Bescherer

    thom and roger work on boardwalk AMC volunteer Dexter helps with boardwalk Len helps at AMC Open House picture of East Head boardwalk after re-decking Group finishing boardwalk repairs

    We started cutting up wood on April 9th and were able to lay the first boards on April 11th. With the help of AMC's Open House, great progress was made on the first boardwalk on April 14th and completed on April 17th. We started work on the second boardwalk on April 21st and made a lot of progress on Park Serve Day (April 28th). Work was completed on May 2nd. This is the biggest project ever completed by the Friends, using over $3,400 of your donations to purchase lumber and fasteners. We hope that it will last for many, many years.

    East Head Reservoir boardwalk

    Boardwalks Project Background

    The Friends were approved in December 2017 for a DCR Partnership Matching Funds to help rebuild two boardwalks near the north end of the East Head Reservoir. A little more than half of the 438 boards were in poor condition. A few were missing. Our proposal hoped to replace the entire top deck with pressure treated boards designed to last a long time. We anticipated spending about $2,000 and receiving a 2:1 match from the state.

    After receiving the matching funds award, we spoke with Plymouth Cable News (PACTV) in February 2018 about the project -

    We received approval from Plymouth conservation commission to use the pressure-treated lumber. However. after we received approval from the town, the DCR decided that since it doesn't actually own the reservoir or the land that surrounds it, it couldn't financially support the project. We decided to proceed on our own. After we obtained permission from the land owner, and the snow melted, we started the project.

    We needed a lot of help to make this happen and want to thank everybody who came out and helped.boardwalk repair


    Our most recent newsletters:-

    Free Fishing Fun- September 2018

    If off the pavement, then put on the Off- June 2018

    Boardwalks, Vernal Pools, Mosquitos (May 2018)

    Spring 2018- The Winter Forest

    Sign up to receive emailed copies of future FMSSF newsletters.

    March storms downed dozens of trees along the major trails in the forest. The DCR's first priority is to deal with the hundreds of trees downed along the fire roads and in the campgrounds. We are doing what we can to help reopen the trails.

    Bob Vogel sawing downed tree along trail sawing a downed tree

    The East Head Reservoir Trail and the Bentley Loop Trail are hikeable but you will still have to navigate around a fair number of downed trees. Join us on our next trail work outing!


    Native Bird Support- It's bluebird box time!

    Bluebird totals were up again in 2017. Our 40 bluebird boxes went in on March 18th last year. We put them out on March 10th this year. (Sign up on Meetup to learn how to help monitor the boxes on April 8th.)

    See more pictures and the reports from prior years on our Native Bird Support page.

    Changes in dog leashing and waste collection for wildlife management areas

    The proposed changes were the subject of a public meeting at Mass Wildlife headquarters on Tueday, February 6th. Since there are are two large wildlife management areas within Myles Standish SF (the Bentley Loop area and the Cutterfields Road area) and there are others bordering the state forest, the discussion was an important one. At its March 14th meeting, MassWildlife's board approved the new regulations with some major revisions reflecting the public comments it had received:

      Approved Wildlife Management Area Dog regulations
    • Dogs must be physically leashed at all times unless they are actively used in hunting or hunting training
    • All dog waste must be picked up within parking areas and within 100 feet of parking areas. Regulation applies to hunters and non-hunters.

    A proposed prohibition of letting dogs interfere with other users' use or enjoyment of the WMA was scrapped as "too vague and hard to enforce."

    The DCR does allow off-leash dog areas in many of its parks. The Friends will continue to advocate for the establishment of such areas within Myles Standish State Forest.

    The Friends host a lot of hikes, bird walks, stargazing nights and other activities in the forest. The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming volunteer-led hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest.

    Find DCR events in Myles Standish State Forest with their new DCR event listings search.

    Camping starts on May 17th in 2018

    Get your Myles Standish State Forest campground reservations now at Reserve America. Camping is $17 per night.

    We hope you checked out the new ornament on the Communitree in downtown Plymouth.

    communitreefriends of mssf logo ornament

    Thanks to Cyndi Vickstrom and Karl Lekberg for the beautiful work!

    Friends 2017 Photo Contest Winners Announced

    2017 Photo Contest Winners. 14 winning photos were chosen by judges from 70 entries. The photos were enlarged and displayed at the Fishing Derby.

    Hike leader reads a map
    Kids on hammock in Myles Standish State Forest
    Dandelion in field near Round Pond in Myles Standish State Forest
    Coopers Hawk in fog
    Lily pads and flowers on pond in Myles Standish State Forest
    Family silhouetted on Fearing Pond campground
    Campfire chat in Myles Standish State Forest
    delapidated cottage in Myles Standish State Forest
    Rainbow trout from Fearing Pond in Myles Standish State Forest
    red-bellied cooter in MSSF
    Fall scene from Camp Squanto in Myles Standish State Forest
    Kids jumping into pond in Myles Standish State Forest
    gnarled tree limb photo
    Fog lifting from pond in MSSF

    Friends 2019 Photo Contest is now open!

    Entries are now being sought for our 2019 contest. Rules will be the same as in previous years. Up to 3 entries may be submitted by an individual. All photos must be taken in Myles Standish State Forest between 9/20/18 and 9/20/19. Categories are historic, landscape, flora, fauna, recreation and memorable event. Submit photos electronically in a standard format(.jpg) to on or before 9/19/2019. Please include your name, photo title, photo location (approximate),category (flora, fauna, landscape, etc.) and date. Awards will be announced at the Friend's Fishing Derby on September 28th, 2019. View previous winners


    frog in a log
    Hello there! Photo by Kathleen O'Donnell.
    eagle with fish
    Eagle with Dinner. Photo by Steve Nikola.
  • Membership

    Friends hike in Myles Standish State Forest

    Please consider becoming a member of the Friends. Your contribution helps the Friends pay for our free family fishing derby, trail maintenance, running this website and our Meetup activity scheduling site and the many other programs we run for the benefit of the Forest and its users.

    Annual membership is only $10 for an individual. More details about membership are available on our Membership page You can mail your contribution or use the PayPal Donate button below to join online.


    Our most recent newsletters:-

    Free Fishing Fun

    If off the pavement, then put on the Off- June 2018

    Boardwalks, Vernal Pools and Mosquitos- May 2018

    Spring 2018

    December 2017

    May 2017

    March 2017

    Centennial Celebration

    Spring 2016

    January 2016

    December 2015

    Sign up today to get future Friends' newsletters emailed to you!

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    The Friends' next Board meeting will take place Wednesday December 5th at 7PM in the MSSF Conference Building just up the road from MSSF headquarters. All members are invited.

    Do you know someone who regularly camps, bicycles, rides horses, skis or snowshoes or kayaks in the State Forest? Our group needs more input from all legitimate forest users. Currently, we have hikers, wildlife observers, hunters/fishers and cottage owners. We would love to have active campers, bicyclists and cross country skiers join us. You are welcome to attend our next Board meeting.(More info.)

    Last Update 11/21/2018

    Contact Us

    About Us

    2018 Photo Contest Winners

    2017 Photo Contest Winners

    2016 Photo Contest Winners

    2015 Photo Contest Winners

    2014 Photo Contest Winners

    2013 Photo Contest Winners

    Order a Friends T-shirt

    Order a Friends embroidered logo hat

    Favorite Trails

    Camping in MSSF

    Cottage Program

    Native Bird Support Group

    Take Me Fishin Highlights 2007-2013

    Take Me Fishin Highlights 2014-2017

    Friends Membership Page- Join Us!

    Report Illegal Off Road Vehicle

    Local business sponsors

    Pine Barrens Community Initiative

    Native Plant ID Page

    MSSF Resource Management Plan

    Equestrian Page

    Friends of Myles Standish State Forest Meetup Group The Friends of Myles Standish State Forest listings are the best place to find up-to-date info on all our upcoming hikes, birding events and other activities in Myles Standish State Forest.

    Myles Standish State Forest map available at headquarters.

    A beautiful new map of the forest was published in 2016 and is available for free at headquarters. Here is a scan of the map. MSSF trails map Download a printable PDF copy of the Myles Standish map.

    Check out some of our favorite trails!

    Friends Hats

    Friends logo hat

    The Friends are selling caps with the Friends logo. You can purchase one of these hats at many Friends events. These hats are now also available for order online blaze orange hat(Note: Blaze orange hats are now back in stock.).

    Deer hunting with bow and arrow has started. Upland game bird (pheasant and quail) hunting has also started. Pheasant and quail are stocked during this season by MassWildlife in its wildlife management areas.

    While wearing blaze orange clothing is not legally required, it seems prudent when visiting the forest this time of year.

    No hunting is allowed on Sundays.

    According to this 2014 article from the Star Tribune (Minnesota) , "Massachusetts has nation's toughest ATV law." In a recent presentation to the DCR Stewardship Council by an Environmental Police Officer, Plymouth and Carver were shown to be the leading sources (#1 and #2) of calls to the Massachusetts Environmental Police with complaints about illegal riding. Your calls have been noticed and the many visits of EPO's to MSSF over the fall were credited to the calls. (Numbers for reporting OHV's in the park)

    It's tick season! (It's always tick season.) Find out more about ticks and what you can do to protect yourself and your pets at the University of Rhode Island's Tick Encounter Center You can:

    • Learn how to make your clothes tick repellent.
    • How to remove ticks.
    • How to treat your yard for ticks.
    • Get your ticks tested. A $50 mail-in test performed by UMass Amherst will quickly tell you if the ticks you find are infected.
    • Identify ticks.

    The bluebird boxes went up in March. The boxes are filling up quickly! Friends-led hikes are going into the forest most Fridays and Sundays. (Check our Meetup page for the full listings and latest details.)

    The new map mural was put on display next to the Park's Interpretive Center.MSSF map mural The map was commissioned by the Friends and the DCR from local artist Laura Anzalone.

    New Treatment Facility for Addicts opened at site of former MCI Plymouth in May 2017

    In early May, patients were transferred in to a new treatment facility for substance abusers and alcoholics at the site of the former MCI Plymouth, which is located within the state forest off Circuit Drive. MASAC Plymouth at Myles Standish State ForestIt is called MASAC (Massachusetts Alcoholic and Substance Abuse Center) at Plymouth. Some of them (17 at last count) have been leaving the facility without permission and have had to be returned by law enforcement. The patients have been committed by the Courts to the facility under Section 35, which explains that those committed to the facility are judged by a Court to have a subtance abuse problem which is causing them to pose a danger to themselves or others. MCI Plymouth existed for about 75 years in the forest using the same facilities and had no escape problems that we were ever aware of. Friends President Bill Vickstrom spoke to the media about the Friends' concerns.

    We hosted the Deputy Commissioner from the Corrections Department at both our June and July meetings. In June, he apologized for the problem and explained how "elopements" from other substance abuse facilities are handled around the state. He told the assembled group about the State's reaction to the "elopements" and how an 8 foot fence topped with barbed wire will be in place around the residential area by the end of June with additional fencing in place by the end of August around the recreational areas. He said that a tactical team is now available for rapid recapture. Many attendees demanded that the State provide better notification of escapes through the use of the reverse 911 systems available in Carver and Plymouth and asked that the State provide better cell coverage in the forest so that users of the forest would be aware when a problem occurs. They also asked that if these are "patients" and not convicted criminals, the response be moderated and stated that the state's SWAT team response with assault rifles drawn and dogs and helicopters had made park users feel threatened.

    As of June 30th, the new fencing was visible, as was the enhanced security around the site. The Deputy Commissioner provided an update at our July meeting. Fencing is now complete around two of the residential buildings. Guards continue to be stationed around the perimeter. There were no additional "elopements" in June. We reiterated our requests for an improved notification system, suggesting that temporary cell tower might provide the ability to notify park users who are currently off the grid while in the forest.

    The Friends Annual Meeting took place on Thursday May 18th at the Carver Sportsmens Club. This year we had Doug Lowry, a teacher and naturalist with Audubon and Senior Staff at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) as our guest speaker. Karl Pastore from the DCR also addressed attendees. Two new members were elected to the Friends' Board- Christie Lawyer and Derek Welch. Two other members were reeelected to new two year terms- Thom Gifford and Jim Nelson. John Bescherer was recognized as "Volunteer of the Year".

    The Friends have had several days working on the trails already this year- In particular, we worked along the Pine Barrens Path (a north-south trail running all the way from Charge Pond to the East Entrance). Signs have been going up trail sign MSSF About a mile of the Pine Barrens Path trail has been brushed back with equipment authorized by the DCR.

  • 4th Annual Pinefest sponsored by the Pine Barrens Alliance took place on Saturday May 20th. Another great day was had by all.

    • The 10th Anniversary Meeting of the Friends took place on May 3rd. Read a news report about the initial meeting. About a dozen people managed to join us and talk with us about the Friends accomplishments over the last 10 years and help us think about our goals going forward, in spite of the closing of the forest that night owed to unforeseen circumstances.

    • Park Serve Day 2017 took place on Saturday April 29th. Park Serve Day is DCR's annual day inviting the public to help beautify the park we love so much. About 35 people joined us for a morning of work. A group of students from Rising Tides Charter cleaned up around headquarters while other Friends cleared the Charge Pond Pavilion and beach. Then all returned to the headquarters for a cookout sponsored by the Friends.

      Park Serve Day 2017
    • Park Visitor Services Supervisor Dan Byrnes will return.dan byrnes leads He led several months of very popular oaf park-sponsored events posted on the state's DCR events site. We bumped into him up in Boston and he anticipated coming back again in 2018.

  • College Pond swimming beach

    College Pond swimming. Who's going to be the first one in?