Dear Stewards, Parents, Members, and Land Trust Supporters,
This past week marked the start of the New Canaan Land Trust’s Summer Steward Internship Program. As you know, this paid internship engages local high school students in land stewardship projects that benefit the Land Trust and gives the interns the opportunity to learn about the environment and their natural surroundings. This year, our program has grown to include two internship sessions, thus doubling our enrollment capacity, and features a new partnership with the Waveny Park Conservancy. I am very excited to share our accomplishments with you, and thank you for helping to make this program such a success.
The first day of the program was spent at the Land Trust’s Watson-Symington Woodlands on Wellesley Drive. There, the interns learned how to identify their first invasive species, Winged Euonymus or “burning bush”, an invasive understory plant from Northeastern Asia. The interns removed dozens of these bushes, and used the resulting material to create, wildlife brush piles off of the trail, thus creating potential habitat and shelter for insects, and small mammals. The interns also helped maintain the well-used trails on the properties by improving the drains behind 8 existing water diversion bars in order to reduce the erosion along the trails, as well as re-installed a water diversion bar that facing the incorrect direction to further ensure the efficiency of the infrastructure.
On Tuesday, the interns moved to Waveny Park where they worked on clearing about 200 feet of streambed that had become blocked with fallen branches and leaf litter, in order to increase streamflow, in turn increasing the oxygenation in the water, improving the water quality and aquatic habitat conditions. As part of an ongoing project, the interns also completed a number of visitor surveys, designed to give the WPC a better sense of the usage of the property.
Wednesday, the interns worked at NCLT’s Colhoun Preserve on Davenport Road. They spread over 10,000 pounds of gravel on to the parking area, to reduce rutting and soil disturbance, increasing the accessibility to the Preserve, while still permitting water to permeate into the soil. They also increased the accessibility along the entire main trail by pruning obstructing branches and removing roots that posed a potential tripping hazard.
Thursday’s thunderstorms made it unsafe for us to work outside, but we made the best of it by completing a number of administrative projects for NCLT and WPC. The interns learned how to use the town’s GIS system to collect the names and addresses of the many households that neighbor NCLT properties. Some of the interns critiqued the WPC and NCLT website, comparing them to other conservation organization’s websites. During breaks in the rain, we also took a quick tour of the Green Link trail that connects the New Canaan Nature Center and Irwin Park, and looked at ways to increase the accessibility of the trial during a future work day.
On Friday, we worked at Waveny Park. The interns learned to identify another invasive species, Norway Maple, and cut 8-10 of saplings that were outcompeting native Sugar Maples. A few interns watered the new Swamp White Oak tree, planted on Arbor Day by the Waveny Park Conservancy while others cleared about 10 more feet of the streambed near a bridge. They also continued to collect visitor surveys for WPC.
Throughout the week, we took breaks from work to learn about native, non-native, and invasive plant species, discuss the importance of different habitats, and the objectives behind our projects. We also started to read and discuss the WPC Forest Management Plan to further understand the objectives behind our projects.
This coming week, the tentative schedule will be as follows:
07/02/18- Firefly Preserve (Across the street from 33 Sleepy Hollow Road)
07/03/18- Waveny Park
07/04/18- OFF (4th of July)
07/05/18- Firefly Preserve (Across the street from 33 Sleepy Hollow Road)
07/06/18- Waveny Park
Next week, our “NCLT days” will be focused on increasing the accessibility of the trail leading to the Firefly Preserve, so that visitors can safely enjoy the magical display of fireflies that is beginning to unfold. Additionally, we will be offering a special night-hike/firefly viewing event, specifically for our stewards and their parents. Mark your calendars for Wednesday night, 07/11/18 from 8:30-9:30pm. The rain date will be Thursday night, 07/12/18 from 8:30-9:30pm.
There are many great things to come in the weeks ahead. Until then, please keep in touch with the Land Trust by email or at NewCanaanLandTrust.org, and also on Facebook and Instagram (@NC_Land_Trust).
Madeline E. Gould
NCLT Summer Steward Program Coordinator