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First Encounter with the Pamet Cranberry Bog

First Encounter with the Pamet Cranberry Bog

by Clare Flynn

Last week, I made a new friend…and by friend, I mean the Pamet Cranberry Bog, the cultural landscape on Cape Cod National Seashore for which I am preparing a Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI) during the first few weeks of my internship with the Olmsted Center.

After months of wondering what project I would be working on and a week of intensively trying to get to know as much about the landscape as I possibly could through written documents (but no maps or photos), I finally had the chance to see the Pamet Cranberry Bog in person when we spent five glorious days on the Cape last week, along with an amazing group of NPS staff, interns, and volunteers from SUNY ESF, Gateway National Recreation Area, Minute Man National Historical Park, and Salem Maritime National Historical Park (Miss you guys!).

It was like finally meeting someone face-to-face with whom you’ve only previously corresponded through letters or emails: I had a general sense of what the Pamet Cranberry Bog was before going to Cape Cod and a distant fondness for it, but I had no images or real emotions to attach to it.

“But wait!” you may say. “What is a ‘cranberry bog?’ and what in the world is a ‘pamet?’” Having grown up in a part of the country (the Central Valley of California) where cranberry cultivation is not the norm, trust me, I had the same questions.

Roughly put, the Pamet Cranberry Bog consists of three small freshwater bogs, a modified two-story “bog house,” sand pits, and a system of drains, culverts, and other hydrological features that all together were used to produce cranberries for commercial use during the late 19th to mid-20th century. It’s fascinating once you start to understand how they all worked together and can visually put them all together in space.

The Pamet River Valley. The red marker is the Pamet Cranberry Bog!

The Pamet River Valley. The red marker is the Pamet Cranberry Bog!

“Pamet,” meanwhile, is a term that has several layers of meaning. First, the cranberry bogs are located in the Pamet River Valley, appropriately named after the Pamet River near the town of Truro on Cape Cod. The river and valley were in turn named after the Pamet tribe of Wampanoag Indians who called this part of the Cape home. The term also has geological significance. The Pamet River Valley was formed when the glacier covering Cape Cod during the Ice Age began to melt, eroding the glacial deposits it left behind and forming a massive outwash channel of meltwater that stretched from Cape Cod Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the unusual way in which this river valley was created, the term “pamet” can be used to describe similar geological features formed in this way.

As you can see, I was pretty thrilled to be visiting the bog for the first time.

As you can see, I was pretty thrilled to be visiting the bog for the first time.


The Bog House!

The Bog House!

Armed with this information, off to the Pamet Cranbery Bog we went. After pulling our crammed minivan into the grassy road that leads up to the Bog House and dousing ourselves with enough bug spray to ward off any malicious critters in the vicinity (I’m convinced there’s still a cloud of DEET hovering somewhere in the airspace over the bogs), we trudged down a path so overgrown that only the roof of the bog house was visible. At the end of the path, we were presented with a bucolic scene: a deteriorating but beautiful, wood shingle clad Cape Cod house surrounded by cherry trees, pitch pines, oak trees, and—our absolute favorite—a thick and ever-present undergrowth of poison ivy.

We split up into four groups with varying specialties (plant identification, drafting) spread out evenly amongst each and began documenting the landscape with photos, measurements, and handwritten notes, making sure to pick up any significant features along the way. I was particularly and pleasantly surprised to discover a small outbuilding a short distance from the bog house that had been previously unknown to me!

Jenny measures a cherry tree.

Jenny measures a cherry tree.

Blake, Jenny, and Jill busily taking notes.

Blake, Jenny, and Jill busily taking notes.

Lars and the group document one side of the house

Lars and the group document one side of the house

After this, Park Historian Bill Burke gave us an introduction to the Pamet Cranberry Bog and its history with the National Parks Service, before leading us on a short hike up Bearberry Hill to a viewpoint overlooking the bogs. From there, the severity of the site’s neglected and overgrown condition became depressingly clear: all that was discernible of the Pamet Cranberry Bog was the roof of the Bog House, poking through a sea of thick trees and shrubs. There was little or no sign of the cranberry bogs, themselves, and if Bill hadn’t pointed out their location to us, we would have had a very difficult time trying to figure out where they were.

On the bright side, we did get to take some pretty sweet group photos, using our arms to mimic the shape of Cape Cod and point out our location…

Did you know your arm can also function as a map of Cape Cod?

Did you know your arm can also function as a map of Cape Cod?

On our way back down to the vans, we experienced a lot of the mixed emotions that must be all too common among NPS staff members and anyone with a passion for cultural resources. On the one hand, we were struck by the truly beautiful and peaceful setting of the bogs—an experience very different from the tick and poison ivy-infested image we’d expected—and were filled with a desire to do something to share this amazing place with others. But on the other hand, we were saddened by its severely deteriorated condition and the lack of public access to a site that seems to have so much potential and also frustrated by the reality that the NPS simply doesn’t have the resources or funding to adequately maintain all of the sites in its care.

One of the most memorable concepts that came up repeatedly on our trip to Cape Cod was the idea of “preservation through use:” that when people use a cultural landscape, maintenance and preservation often occur naturally. Many of us interns came away from the Pamet Cranberry Bogs wishing there was a way to bring people back to the site. We’d been told about previous attempts to rehabilitate portions of the bogs for educational purposes in the 1970s, restore the bogs by leasing them to a private cranberry grower in the 1990s, or turn the Bog House into a youth hostel more recently. We even began brainstorming our own ideas (Our half-joking favorite was the idea of creating a “CranBrewery.” Cranberry-infused ciders and sour beers, anyone?).

Having fallen in love with the Pamet Cranberry Bog in just two weeks of getting to know it, I still hold out hope that the bog will not be lost entirely and that, someday, it will be restored or rehabilitated for others to appreciate. Perhaps, my CLI will be the first step.

Until next time,


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Recording landscapes is fun!

#IamACE – EPIC Edition – Kyle Tibor [video]

Meet EPIC Intern, Kyle Tibor. Kyle has been interning out of Pinnacles National Park’s Condor Program. Pinnacles National Park joined the California Condor Recovery Program as a release and management site in 2003. The park currently co-manages 86 wild condors in central California with Ventana Wildlife Society. Thank you to our partners at Pinnacles for allowing us to see the amazing work you are doing with these majestic creatures. Pinnacles is located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California. For more information on Pinnacles Condor Program go to:

Garrapata State Park – Big Sur, California


Since January of 2017 ACE California has had a crew working along the coast in Garrapata State Park. This ongoing project is the first in partnership with California State Parks, a relationship ACE hopes to continue to build in the years to come. The ACE crew has been lead by Kevin Magallanes since the start of the project and will continue to be lead by Kevin until its completion.


ACE corps members have been working on two different projects with the California State Parks crew. Half of the crew were building wooden steps along the trail. With the use of drills, saws, and the frequent double checking of measurements the crew constructed the wooden base for a staircase that will later be filled with small rocks. These steps make the hike more easily traversable by reducing the trail’s steepness.


The other half of the crew was building a multi-tier retaining wall which will be a lookout over the coast when it is completed. “Rock work is this strange meditative process,” explained Jesse Wherry who has been on the project for three months, “you can spend your entire day on something and in the end you just have to take it all down.” This extensive amount of rock building requires a lot of patience, skill, and experience from the crew members.


The crew brought on three new members during this project who got to learn about both rock work and step building. This lookout is one of two multiple week long projects that the crew will complete for the trail. ACE looks forward to the continuation of this project over the upcoming months in the best office anyone could ever ask for.



Pinnacles National Park – Jawbone Canyon – EPIC Intern Team works on Vegetation and Restoration

In Pinnacles National Park ACE currently has two EPIC interns working the with the park’s Vegetation and Restoration team. The park’s restoration team is lead by Park Ranger Mike Shelley with the  main objective to restore and protect native plant species and to maintain the landscape.


Joshua Mosebach and Karina Garcia (ACE EPIC Interns) of the restoration team take part in native seed collecting, planting, monitoring and research. The internship is currently six weeks into a twenty-one week program in the park. “I’ve learned a lot about working in the federal government and the park service during the last few weeks,” explained Karina, “I didn’t know that the park conducts research and works with native american tribes.”  While Karina is still determining what path she would like to pursue, she explained that she has been able to explore a variety of different career paths within the National Parks Service during her time in the park.


During the week of April 24th, 2017 the team was working in Jawbone Canyon on the west side of Pinnacles National Park. A new trail has been slated to go through the canyon and through a section of Italian thistle, an invasive species. It is crucial for the invasive plants to be removed from the trails, as  “the seeds will attach to hikers boots and pant legs and spread to other areas of the park,” Mike Shelley explained during his introduction to invasive species removal with a local Native American tribe.


The park has been working with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust since 2009 on various local projects. The Amah Mutsun Land Trust group came out with the team to work on the removal of this area of Italian Thistle. There are two areas in the park that have cultural significance to the tribe because the areas contain deer grass and white root sage. These are plants that are used for weaving by the tribe. The park and tribe worked together to have the first prescribed burn of deer sage since the mission period.dsc_1246

California State Parks Director visits the Garrapata State Park Project


On Wednesday,  April 19th, 2017 California State Parks Director, Lisa Mangat and ACE CEO and founder, Chris Baker met at the site of an ongoing project in Garrapata State Park.

This project marks the beginning of a partnership between California State Parks and ACE, a partnership which both parties hope to maintain for the years to come.


The visit allowed for ACE California Assistant Director, Eric Robertson, and Chris Baker to review the progress that has been made over the last several months, as well as outline the work that will continue into the summer of 2017.


Lisa Mangat met members of the trails crew and learned a little bit about each of their backgrounds. The ACE trail crew has been working closely with the California State Parks trail crew building wooden steps, as well as a multi-tier retaining wall which will serve as a lookout. 

dsc_9146Pictured: Corpsmembers, Ohica-Hadiya Ali, Zachary Weidner, Taylor Quigley and Sarah Phillips. California State Parks staff, Lorraine Turner, Jim Doran, John Hiles, Lisa Mangat and Karl Knapp. ACE staff, Eric Roberterson and Christopher Baker.

Happy National Bike Month!

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