Dear Supporters of the New Canaan Land Trust: The NCLT is proud to share the wonderful happenings of our second internship session. Following the completion of our first summer session, the Land Trust was more than excited to welcome several new members. Andrew, Lucas, and James readily took to tasks at hand and have been embodying the roles of land stewards with ease. We were also happy to welcome back Matthew from our previous session as well.

The past couple of weeks have been comprised of many hot days, this did not dissuade our new team one bit. Equipped with plentiful water and positive attitudes, the new internship team has been accomplishing a lot. On a typical day, you may find our team at one of our preserves, contributing to the upkeep of the land and engaging with the environment. A large focus of our program is fostering relationships with the natural world through an educational yet enjoyable experience. Specifically, this focus is accomplished through daily interactions with local flora and fauna as well as through the tremendous workshop opportunities provided by friends of the land trust along with other conservation-oriented groups. This abundance of opportunity translates into busy days and much to do for our eager group.

Week 1: Hellos… Exploration… Trees… Getting Down to Business

A Hummingbird Clearwing Moth snapped by intern Andrew

The first week of the session was filled with activity, there was much to do and we had just the team to do it. Our first day, at Watson-Symington, was introductory. We had a new group and needed to set the tone for the program to come. Thus, a day spent exploring in the wilderness, learning about various local and invasive species, and getting to know one another, along with program manager, Drew, quickly established a strong stewardship team. By day 2 the group was comfortable and optimistic about things to come.

Day 2 began at Silvermine-Fowler Preserve, where some plantings from recent years needed assistance. With an abundance of hot days and not all that much rain, some of our planted native shrubs were quite thirsty. The team was quick to act, loading up the truck with an empty tank and traveling to the New Canaan Fire Department to acquire some 200 gallons of fresh water. Back at the preserve, the group primed the water pump and provided a much-needed drenching to those shrubs, along with the rest of the up-and-coming adjacent meadow. The day was closed out with discussions of local as well as migratory birds, prompted by the bird house display situated alongside the trail.

Following a strong start to the session, Wednesday soon arrived and spirits were high as the team ventured out to Bartlett Arboretum. The Arboretum features lush gardens, tremendous trees, and extensive walking trails that are awe-inspiring. The stewards had the opportunity to meet up with educator, James, who shared his knowledge of the grounds and plants; providing a wonderful learning experience for the group. The site features shrubs, ferns, trees, and more sourced from all over the world. The location allowed our team to gain a sound understanding of native versus non-native species. The day was filled with exploration and many photo opportunities. Intern Andrew, a Maryland native who summers with family in New Canaan, emphasized his fondness of the arboretum and explained how it helped him to understand the true diversity of Connecticut landscapes. His eye for photography captured some incredible moments from the day.

Returning from a tremendous day of exploration, the team was happy to get back to our preserves to close out the first week. The end of the week was consumed by a variety of tasks. Once again, due to tremendous heat and no rain in sight, our team gave the Silvermine-Fowler meadow and shrubs one more hearty watering before the weekend. Additionally, the team took on a new substantial project, revamping our Watson-Symington Preserve’s West road access point. Since the location had an abundance of woodchips, the team began with the removal of mugwort and leveling of those chips to provide a stable and clear ground to walk upon. The sun was hot but spirits burned brighter and our team finished out their first week with a number of accomplishments under their belts.

Week 2: Cedars… Stone Walls… Animals… Oh My!

The enthusiasm brought by this group, even on Monday mornings, has raised morale consistently throughout the beginning of the program. Come Monday, Week 2, the new interns had assumed their roles as land stewards with ease. Our team found themselves at new properties to start out the week. Browne Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the first properties protected by the Land Trust, just two years after its founding, was the first stop on Monday morning. The team addressed a downed limb that had previously blocked one of the property’s entrances. In pairs, the stewards moved away large sections of the hefty branches. Afterward, the group worked on the repositioning of a sign which provides information about a historic method of stone splitting. The last activity at the property was the sourcing of downed cedar logs. The team agreed upon a fallen cedar and banded together to delimb and remove a sizable segment of the downed tree. The selection was then carried away for transportation to the next location. A total of four sizable cedar logs were then moved to Colhoun Preserve in anticipation of Eagle Scout projects to come. The group finished out the Monday by moving back to their ongoing project, the trail leading from West road. This day’s effort was the removal of vines and invasives situated along the stone wall. The day set a positive tone for the week to come. 

The main activity of Tuesday was another gracious workshop by a friend of the Land Trust, Greg Faillaci. Greg’s knowledge of stone working is incredible, as well as his ability to move stones. The approach to stone placement and anticipation of each move are second nature to Greg. He was kind enough to once again engage with the internship program, sharing some of his mastery with our team. Greg’s love for his work rubbed off on the group, who walked away with a newfound appreciation for the classic and historic features of New England. Once again, the day was completed with more attendance to the West road accessway.

Joe-Pye-Weed decorates a meadow at Fairfield Audubon

Wednesday arrived and that meant our team’s second excursion. This time around the group ventured to the Connecticut Audubon Society in Fairfield. Here they were introduced to a variety of animals. The program provided allowed our group to get up close with many local and foreign species. From Turtles to Owls to Hissing Cockroaches, the group had the opportunity to learn about various roles in ecosystems and were even able to touch some of them. Our team even got a behind-the-scenes look and was brought to the animal care room, where an even greater amount of animal types are cared for. The program made for a great morning of education and interaction. Afterward, the stewards explored the grounds of the Audubon which exhibits a variety of habitat types. Likewise, a trip to Lake Mohegan provided another great opportunity to explore the forested Connecticut landscape.

The following Thursday was quite the hot one. The group still accomplished much but was conscious to take breaks as needed and always had water handy. The stewards spent time maintaining in and around the council ring at Silvermine-Fowler. With a job well done it was time to take a break from the efforts and visit another new property to the group, our Firefly Sanctuary. The group learned of firefly variety as well as the habitat that supports those flashing little flyers. The day was concluded back in the air conditioning of the office, where discussions of the past and future of the program ensued.

The week was concluded with a visit to Livingston-Higley Preserve. The team cleaned up the trail a bit with some needed pruning of encroaching vegetation. With the trails spruced up, the main objective of the day became clearing vines and more intruding vegetation from the featured stone wall at the center of the preserve’s meadow. Doing this kind of maintenance to the stone wall ensures its integrity for years and years to come by preventing vines from displacing the set stones. The team worked efficiently, designating pruning, raking, and other tasks amongst themselves. The work they accomplished ultimately provided better views of the beautiful structure and a stronger future for the wall.

Two weeks for this group came and went in no time. Andrew, James, Lucas, and Matthew quickly built comradery and took to their roles in maintaining the land. Thanks to positive attitudes, the kindness of workshop leaders, and opportunities provided by field trip locations, the first half of the second internship session was a tremendous success. We at the New Canaan Land Trust are happy to report this and are excited for the remainder of the program. As always, if you see our steward team out contributing to the betterment of our preserves, please say “Hello.” Their efforts are direct contributions to enjoyment by everyone at our properties.

Left to Right: Lucas, James, Matthew, Andrew