Dear supporters of the New Canaan Land Trust and Waveny Park Conservancy,
The Session 1: Summer Steward Interns have just completed their second week of our program. Despite the shortened week, we were able to make significant improvements to Hicks Meadow, Livingston-Higley preserve, and Waveny Park.
We began Monday by completing two projects at Hicks Meadow. First, we cleared the parking area of weeds and invasive species. Before we began this project, our stewards had been unable to park in the lot because of significant plant overgrowth. Since we focus a lot of work on the Silvermine-Fowler preserve, which includes Hicks Meadow, we wanted to make access to this property as easy as possible. Since we are now able to park in that lot, we can bring more tools and equipment much closer to the northern part of the Silvermine-Fowler Preserve.
We also had interns clear vines and brush from the stone wall that borders Hicks Meadow and Silvermine Rd. Throughout our program, we will be joined by local stonemason, Greg Faillaci, to rebuild and improve historic stone walls. In order to prepare for Greg’s workshop, we wanted to remove any vegetation that would prevent us from working efficiently with Greg. The New Canaan Land Trust has invited Greg to work with us in the past, and every year we restore sections of stone walls and contribute to the overall beauty of New Canaan’s streets and properties. Therefore, this project has many benefits for both the habitat and the Town of New Canaan.
After lunch, we moved back to the Livingston-Higley Preserve to finalize some of the work we began last Wednesday. Our interns got to showcase their newly found skills using tools such as weed whippers, loppers, and handsaws. We began to reestablish an abandoned trail towards the back of the property, and we hope that our work encourages community members to visit the Livingston-Higley Preserve.
On Tuesday, we met at Waveny House to discuss our plan for the work day. I wanted to break up the day into two parts to optimize the amount of working and learning we could accomplish. Our interns began by clearing more vines and brush from the stone wall along Lapham Road. As we did this, we discussed the historic value of the walls and some geologic features within the rocks. By removing the thick layer of vines, we exposed a beautiful stretch of well-constructed stone wall.
I captured some before and after photos to highlight how much work our interns performed, which can be seen below.
While working, our interns continued to work on their plant ID skills and removed large patches of Chinese mugwort (Artemisia argyi). These efforts will allow Greg Faillaci to assess the area and help us restore as much of the stone wall as possible. After lunch, Aaron joined the interns and I to lead a tree ID hike. Aaron taught our interns how to read and use a field guide, which is a great skill for the students to learn as they continue their time with NCLT.
We identified several genera of trees, including Oaks, Maples, Ash, Beech, Hickory, Sassafras, Hemlock, Pine, and Poplar. As we walked through the properties, the interns became so confident in their ID skills that they were able to name multiple species of each of the genera listed above. Lessons like this are just one of the unique ways the Summer Steward Internship benefits our community, because our interns retain this knowledge and teach others about the native trees in the area.
On Wednesday, we participated in our first field trip of the session. Our stops included Highstead in Redding, CT, Wildlife in Crisis in Weston, CT, and the Norwalk River Valley Trail in Wilton, CT. Highstead shares similar values to NCLT and aims to “inspire curiosity and build knowledge about plants and wooded landscapes in order to enhance life, preserve nature, and advance sound stewardship practices.” Geordie Elkins, the Operations Director for Highstead, spoke to myself and the interns about Highstead’s extensive ecological research and conservation efforts.
We ate a quick lunch and then went to Wildlife In Crisis. At WIC, the interns were able to observe animals in various stages of rehabilitation. Every year, the facility releases thousands of native animals back into their native habitats. Since we have emphasized the importance of native species on NCLT properties, our interns were able to connect many concepts they’ve learned during their time in our program. They learned about ravens, got to observe Barred owls in a flight cage, and watched a baby raccoon be fed. We also discussed how many birds are federally protected, and so people can be fined for disrupting their habitat. Learning about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was a really interesting way to tie history into modern day land conservation. Finally, we ended the day reflecting on the field trip and enjoying some ice cream. All of our interns agreed that these organizations showcased different conservation efforts, but they all tied together the lessons we’ve learned over the past two weeks. After visiting Highstead and WIC, our interns became more aware of the symbiotic relationship between flora and fauna. Our hope is that they continue to pass the lessons they’ve learned on to family and friends, and that more community members begin to value these conservation efforts.
The end of this week marks the halfway point of the session 1 program. At this point, our interns have had an introduction to many of the concepts surrounding land stewardship. Over the final two weeks, we will apply those lessons and continue to make meaningful changes across New Canaan.
Listed below is a tentative schedule for next week:
Monday (07/08)- work on NCLT property
- Starting at 9:00 am- Meet at Browne Preserve
- Stewardship at Browne Preserve (located along Valley Rd.)
Tuesday (07/09)– work at Waveny Park property
- Starting at 9:00 am- Meet at Waveny House
- Work in the Meadow: Continue invasive species removal and general habitat maintenance.
- Trail mapping project
Wednesday (07/10)– Field trip
- Starting at 8:45 am- Meet at 58 Pine Street, New Canaan, CT (NCLT office)
- Volunteer at Fairgate Farm in Stamford, CT from 9:30 am- noon. Fairgate Farm is a volunteer-based organization that provides equitable access to organic produce and strengthens the community through educational and harvest related initiatives.
- Attend an educational workshop with SoundWaters at Boccuzzi Park, Stamford, CT, from 12:30 pm- 2:00 pm. At SoundWaters, we will study Long Island Sound and focus on water conservation. Interns will complete several hands-on activities to understand the resources of Long Island Sound such as the water, habitats, and animal life.
Thursday (07/11)– work at Waveny Park property
- Starting at 9:00 am- Meet at Waveny House
- Conduct visitor surveys throughout a wide selection of trails.
Friday (07/12)– work on NCLT property
- Starting at 9:00 am- Meet at Watson-Symington Preserve
- Waterbar installation at Watson-Symington Preserve (Located at 110 Wellesley Dr.)
For questions or comments regarding our Summer Steward Internship program, or any of our Summer programming, please email [email protected]. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@NC_Land_Trust) for more updates!