We have made it to the halfway point of the 2017 Summer Stewards program, and what a terrific start it has been! Our enthusiastic crew of six local high school students has been hard at work stewarding properties, learning how to identify plants (both native and invasive), and enjoying the trails and open space that our organization has worked so hard to protect.
Aaron Lefland, the new Executive Director, pictured during the first day of work with this year’s group of Summer Stewards: Griffin, Nick, Andrew, Javan, and Christy (Katherine missing)
Many of the projects that we have worked on will be directly visible to anyone who visits our properties. At the Watson-Symington Woodlands, an additional 50 feet of split-rail fencing has been added to the pull-off along Wellesley Drive, guiding visitors to the main, gated entrance. The stewards also installed a number of new water bars along trails, which will divert rain water and prevent erosion. At the Colhoun meadow, the Stewards got a real workout when they helped to spread 7 tons of gravel on the driveway and parking lot; a project that will reduce soil compaction and prevent dirt from being tracked out onto the public road. Other projects have included removing growth from some of our restored stone walls, and removing grapevines that are creeping into our meadows
One of the many new water bars that the stewards have installed, will help divert running water off of the trail and prevent erosion
The newly-acquired Silvermine Fowler Preserve has also received a lot of attention, as we prepare for the property’s official opening in the fall. The quarter-mile trail that starts at the preserve’s parking lot is now lined with logs so that visitors can easily guide themselves through the woodlands, past the commemorative plaque, and to the beautiful pond (a favorite lunch spot for the group). The stewards also felled dozens of invasive “burning bush” plants and stacked the debris into piles so that small mammals, reptiles, and birds can use them as a home.
When not hard at work, the Stewards have learned to identify some of the familiar trees and shrubs that are common to our region, and have developed a keen eye for some of the invasive plants that we are trying to manage across our properties. We have discussed the many ways that historic land use has impacted today’s forests, and the Stewards are starting to hone their detective skills and determine how a parcel of land might have been used over a century ago! They have also become experienced dendrochronologists (those who study tree rings) and can not only tell you how old a tree is from looking at a cross section, but what different factors might have been affecting its growth in any particular year.
The Stewards enjoy a lunch break at the beautiful pond being the Fowler home, after working to prepare the trail for visitation when the property opens in the fall
On their independent work days, the Stewards have begun working on a carbon sequestration project. They will learn and apply skills used by ecologists to collect data about the size of our trees and the density of our forests. That data will then be used to calculate the amount of carbon that our Land Trust properties have sequestered; providing another compelling reason to preserve open space
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, Twitter, and Instagram (@NC_Land_Trust).
Thank you for your support,
P.S. Please join us at the Watson-Symington Woodlands (on Wellesley Drive) this Thursday at 5pm (weather permitting) as we partner with Wildlife in Crisis to release two downy woodpeckers, two tree swallows, one chirping sparrow, seven robins, and three blue jays back to the wild. All of these birds were orphaned as babies and are now ready for a fresh start at life. The rain date will be Sunday, also at 5pm.