How We Steward Open Space
It’s easy to think that our job is done once we acquire a new preserve. In reality, our work is only just beginning…
Many of the stewardship projects that we undertake fall into the category of “habitat restoration”. These projects include removing invasive species, planting native trees and bushes, installing bird and bat houses, building brush piles, and more. We are always looking for ways to maximize the habitat value of each of our parcels, and ensure that native plants and animals will be able to thrive in our preserves.
The New Canaan Land Trust maintains over 15 acres of meadow at the following 6 preserves: Hannan, Livingston-Higley, Colhoun, Hicks, Firefly, and Hawkins. Our ecologically-based mowing schedule allows birds, insects, and mammals to use the fields, while also enabling us to mow and ensure a healthy composition of native grasses, flowers, and forbs. We also work to remove any invasive species that may outcompete these native plants.
Trail Construction and Maintenance
Most of our larger preserves have passive-use trail systems that are open to the public. We work hard to ensure that these trails are usable year round, and do a full inspection and clean-up after major storms. We also try to increase the accessibility of these trails by installing raised walkways, removing rocks and other obstacles, and pruning trees and branches. Other projects include the installation of water diversion bars, trail signs, parking areas, and more.
Stone Wall Restoration
Nearly all of our properties contain or our bound by stone walls that were built decades (if not centuries) ago by farmers. We honor the agrarian past of New Canaan by clearing these historic stone walls of vines and other debris, and by resetting sections of wall that may have collapsed.
As responsible landowners, we make it a point to visit and inspect each one of our preserves at least once per year. During these visits we walk the boundaries of all of our preserves (close to 30 miles in all!) to document any issues such as encroachment or trespassing. We also make observations about the overstory composition, the presence of invasive species, and takes notes about any future stewardship work that needs to be done.
While we do not steward any of our conservation easements (as they are still private property), we do inspect each easement on an annual basis to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld, and that there are no violations that would detract from the conservation values outlined in the easement.