Authors: Hans Toft-Nielsen and Kelly Flannery

With rain in the forecast all week, we started our Monday indoors. Our task for the day was to search through old articles and pictures from the earliest days of the NCLT so that we could use them for social media posts. As an organization, it is important we keep an active presence on social media. To make sure that happened, we planned ahead and drafted content for the Fall. We had two different ideas for our posting schedule, one being throwback, or “TBT” pictures from the past on Thursdays, and the other was informative posts on plant identification. We hope to increase our social media influence and this was a huge step towards that goal!

On Tuesday, we took notes on how to plant chestnuts for an upcoming project. Over time, American Chestnuts have become scarce due to a fungus known as blight. In collaboration with John Kriz from the American Chestnut Society, NCLT is steadily trying to reintroduce this native plant into our ecosystem. Later on in the day, we completed our final touches on the Firefly Sanctuary handout in preparation for the guided walks in early July. On the hand out we provided the reader with information about fireflies and the Firefly Sanctuary property. We finished the day at the Livingston-Higley and Colhoun properties to take photos and make notes using our Avenza Maps app. This helped Kelly and Aaron plan future maintenance projects for the upcoming summer stewards. If you’re an avid user of the NCLT trails, I highly suggest you consider downloading the Avenza Maps app for your smartphone! 

Thankfully on Wednesday, it was a nice and sunny day! This allowed us to do rigorous work on the Hicks property along Silvermine Rd. We spread wood chips throughout the parking area and cleared it of invasive species and weeds. The wood chips stunt and prevent plant growth, which eventually kills them off. We also found a turtle as we were working outside! However, the job is not done yet, as we plan on ordering more wood chips to completely get rid of the invasive plants and making the parking area as appealing and accessible as possible.

Despite a rain-filled day on Thursday, we still had the motivation to work outside and plant three American Chestnuts. These American Chestnuts were just small saplings, so we had to transfer them to areas with the most light and open space for them to grow. We are so thankful that John Kriz from the American Chestnut Society supervised our work and taught us so much about the importance of chestnuts! The saplings are vulnerable to predation at this size, so to protect them, we constructed cages similar to the ones located on the Fowler property. These cages, however, were squirrel and chipmunk proof, as opposed to just deer proof. Squirrels and chipmunks seek out the nut and disturb the growing process for chestnuts, so the wire caging is necessary for helping these trees reach maturity. One day we hope we can bring our families to Hicks Meadow and know that we helped plant that beautiful Chestnut!

Friday, 06/14, was the last day of our internship. We started the day like all other Fridays: at the Advertiser Coffee. We have really enjoyed getting to sit in on these meetings because it made us appreciate all the components and complexities of town government. It was great watching so many passionate people talk about their opinions on how to make the town better! We then ran three errands around town to wrap up our projects, including posting signage in our kiosks, collecting the trail camera set in the Firefly Sanctuary, and gathering our tools from the chestnut project. It felt rewarding to finalize some of the projects we had spent a lot of time working on. Our final task was to channel our creative side and take photos of our properties. One of the interns, Richard Ettinger, takes amazing photos like the one seen below:

I really enjoyed spending time with each other and having a very chill last day.

Overall, this experience was great. We all learned so much from NCLT and we will continue to promote the importance of open space and conservation for many years to come. We learned so much about Connecticut’s native ecosystem and why the work of the New Canaan Land Trust matters. We are very excited to graduate and move on to the next part of our lives, but we will always enjoy looking back at the memories made here in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Please keep in touch with the Land Trust by email ([email protected]) or at newcanaanlandtrust.org, and also on Facebook and Instagram (@NC_Land_Trust)! For specific questions regarding our summer programs, please contact Kelly Flannery at [email protected].