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The dead of winter is not a slow time for the New Canaan Land Trust stewardship program. Over the past 2 months, three of the non-profit’s most prominent properties have been the focus of extensive work. Visitors and passerby may have noticed projects underway that are transforming Silvermine-Fowler Preserve, Hannan Field, and Hicks Meadow.
Guided by the mission to steward its 400 areas of open space and protect habitat, NCLT’s recent work is timedto the season when there is minimal distribution to wildlife and the ecosystem. Winter, in fact, is an optimal time for upkeep and improvement at the Land Trust’s meadows.
At the Silvermine-Fowler Preserve, a portion of the property is being prepared for the future installation of a new meadow. With the guidance of renowned meadow expert Larry Weaner, volunteers have begun preparing the area for planting. Large sheets of black plastic now cover the site to suppress invasive and undesirable plants during the coming growing season. When the plastic is removed in Spring 2020, NCLT should have a clean slate and the foundation to plant a diverse array of native grasses and wildflowers.

“It’s amazing to think that, in just a few years, we will have turned a space that once held a house and lawn into a thriving native ecosystem” said NCLT board member, Catharine Sturgess. “This meadow not only will look beautiful, but will provide food and shelter for countless pollinators and birds.”
Extensive work is also being completed at the Hicks Meadow on Silvermine Road and the Hannan Field on Smith Ridge. Both of these highly visible meadows have been expanded and improved, thanks to the help of local tree companies. In addition to the annual mowing, crews have been pruning branches along the fields’perimeters, chipping fallen trees, and cutting back shrubs that have encroached into the fields.

The work on these two properties collectively has reclaimed nearly an acre of meadow habitat. “Theseimprovements not only enhance the aesthetics of the meadows, but improve habitat and will facilitate futuremanagement there,” explained NCLT Executive Director, Aaron Lefland.
Across town, NCLT stewards a total of seven meadows, that together comprise 16 acres. Each meadow is maintained through annual mowing, conducted in mid-winter. “Winter mowing minimizes disturbance to the wildlife that rely on the meadow for habitat and food during the rest of the year,” noted Lefland, “while also preventing the emergence of woody plants that outcompete our desired grasses and wildflowers.”

NCLT has other stewardship projects underway, including the restoration of a historic stone wall at the Hicks Meadow, improvements on the GreenLink Trail, and a number of scout projects at properties around town. If you would like to support this conservation work, consider becoming a member via the NCLT website: www.NewCanaanLandTrust.org or reach out to Aaron Lefland, Executive Director, at info@newcanaanlandtrust.org.