Dear Stewards, Parents, Members, and Land Trust Supporters,
We are halfway through our first session of the Summer Steward Program, and although the heat slowed us down a bit, we still had a very productive week. You’ll see that we completed a variety of stewardship projects ranging from stone wall restoration to trail maintenance, and are looking forward to the second half of the session.
On Monday, we worked at the Firefly Preserve, increasing the accessibility of the trail in preparation for a number of upcoming night-hikes (check out our website for more details!). The interns re-routed 15 feet of the trail, diverting the existing trail around the large rocks, and re-lining that section with logs to delineate the new route. They also widened the existing “stone bridge” that crosses a small stream using a number of flat rocks that were removed from the trail itself. Taking a break from trail work, the interns also collected litter to improve the health of the ecosystem and the safety of the visitors. Additional projects included pruning the trees along the trail, and clearing rocks and roots that posed a potential tripping hazard.

On Tuesday, the interns moved to Waveny Park. In the morning, a few interns watered the Swamp White Oak sapling that was planted on Arbor Day by the Waveny Park Conservancy (WPC). They will continue to do that each day we work at Waveny to provide the tree with water throughout the hottest and driest part of the summer. The main project for the day was to clear overgrowth from the stone wall along Lapham Road. We had originally thought that the interns would help rebuild this section of wall, but after uncovering it of vines and bushes, were pleasantly surprised to see that the wall was in fine condition. The interns also continued to collect surveys from visitors, gathering input for WPC on the perspectives of visitors in regards to what needs to be improved and what they value most about the Park.

After having Wednesday off for the 4th of July, the interns returned to the Firefly Preserve to further increase the accessibility of the trail. Our Executive Director, Aaron Lefland, joined us for some work, using a chainsaw to cut up fallen trees that were blocking the trail, and to cut some larger logs that the interns then used to line the trail. Similar to Monday, the interns rerouted a 25-foot section of the trail onto higher ground, detouring it away from a streambed to minimize the effects of foot traffic on this fragile ecosystem. In order to reduce the chances of erosion on the newly re-routed trail, the interns also installed a water diversion bar to guide the stream’s flow away from the trail, connecting the natural streambed, reducing erosion on the trail. Other projects from the day included the removal of numerous tripping hazards along the trail and additional tree pruning. After two days of great work by the interns, the trail is much more accessible and will be well used during our upcoming night-hikes and beyond.

Friday’s thunderstorms made it unsafe for us to work outside, so we hunkered down in the Land Trust office and made the best of things. We started by reading through management plans written for Waveny Park and a few of the Land Trust properties. These plans were written by professional foresters, and are a great way for the interns to see that the projects that they are working on are not only beneficial to visitors and the ecosystem, but were also recommended by professionals in the field and will have a clear benefit to the property. The interns also learned more about the founder of Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted and the creation of Central Park in New York City, and the work that goes into creating and preserving open space. We connected our work on the various properties to Urban Environmental History, emphasizing the value of parks in cities as well as in suburban areas.
This coming week, the tentative schedule will be as follows:
07/09/18- Browne (along Valley Road)**- Restore wildlife habitat, increase accessibility of trail, gather natural materials for future stewardship projects
07/10/18- Waveny Park- Remove invasive species, surveys
07/11/18*- Field Trip- Highstead, Wildlife in Crisis, Hike at Devil’s Den (time and weather permitting)
07/12/18- Colhoun (Davenport)- Stone wall reconstruction workshop
07/13/18- Waveny Park- Re-establishing a trail, de-vining stone wall in preparation for our next stone wall workshop, surveys, and restoring wildlife habitat
*A quick reminder, we will be offering a special night-hike/firefly viewing event, specifically for our stewards and their parents. Please mark your calendars for Wednesday night, 07/11/18 from 8:30-9:30pm, and please RSVP to me, Madeline Gould, at [email protected] by Tuesday, 7/10/18. The rain date will be Thursday night, 07/12/18 from 8:30-9:30pm.
** Browne Preserve- We will meet at the trailhead, which is located on the western side of Valley Road, across from Colonial Road. For drop off, please park on Colonial road behind the stop sign.
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