Saturday, July 13, 2019

Paugussett Trail Clearing; Mayflower Lane to Rt. 110

On a muggy Saturday, several trails volunteers met at Sinsabaugh Heights to clear out the Paugussett Trail from Mayflower Lane down to Rt. 110.  The work party was a success, and after everyone sweated out several pounds of water the trail was much clearer.

Graham, Bob, Jim, Val, Betsy, Mark and Mike, along with Luis & Terry (not pictured) posing in the briar tunnel (and not many towns can say they have one of those) after the cutting was done.  Nice Job.

This was the "Before" picture in some areas.  It's amazing what sun and rain can do for plant growth where you don't want it to grow sometimes.

Here's the "After" picture.  Can you find the Paugussett Trail now?  Good.

Jim & Luis headed down to Rt. 110 and worked uphill.  A second team worked downhill from Sinsabaugh.  A third team cut uphill toward Mayflower Lane.

It was hot work, but we were making good progress in the heat and humidity.  Unfortunately, when we got up to Mayflower Lane there was a large dump of yard waste from nearby residential lawns that had been piled up in the trail.  I could repeat what was said, but this is a family blog.    There was ornamental grass, sticks, evergreen shrubs, grass clippings, and thick leaf piles that appeared to come from some of the neighboring yards, not the City Open Space.  We set about to clear out the trailhead and piled all the yard waste out on City-owed property by the road so everyone on the street could enjoy the waste piles.

The yard waste was dumped right behind the sign that said no dumping waste, and the City fine amounts.  Nice Touch.

 So the volunteers, on their Saturday, in high heat and humidity, cleaned up the mess.

And this is the view from the trailhead out to Mayflower Lane.  I can understand how some people want nicely maintained lawns, but most properties in Shelton can manage to have a compost pile somewhere on your own property, or else take the stuff to the transfer station for free.  And if you use a lawn service you are responsible for what your employees do and where they dump.  Do Not Dump Your Waste on City Property, and Do Not Dump Your Garbage in the Middle of the Trail.

We also cut back briars, raked the trail, cut brush and made it easy to see where the trail went for everyone.

So we got a lot of work done all the way down to Rt. 110 opposite Indian Well State Park.  Thanks to the Sinsabaugh folks that warned us about the bees; nobody got stung.  Enjoy your Shelton Open Spaces, and no dumping.  Lets show some community pride and Keep Shelton Clean.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cut, cut, cut the brush, as far as you can see ......

Mow that brush.  Nothing like a lot of rain and sunshine to fill in the trails with plant growth.  So the Trails Committee and volunteers braved the June heat and humidity to cut back the vegetation along the Paugussett Trail from Constitution Blvd North going North and South.

For some reason I feel a song about a boat coming on.......

Jim and Luis took the Gator and mower and cleared various spots out to Wellington CT, past Independence Dr., and down along the RecPath.  It was hot, buggy, and did we say hot?  The guys did a great job mowing with the Gator.

Mark Vallero cut out portions of the Turkey Trot, Paugussett Trail, and other spots before he had to go home to work on his own house.  Obviously, he has to work on his sense of priorities.

One of the "before" pictures along the Paugussett Trail.  We cut all this back and made the trail more tick unfriendly for the hikers and bikers passing thru.  Bill Dyer dove into this and cut stuff back until he had to leave. 

We cleared out down to Meadow Street at Mayflower Lane.  There's more that can be cut (as always at this time of the year), but the trail looks better and is more passable.  Thanks to Betsy, Graham, Bob, Bill, Mark, Val, Mike, Terry, Jim and Luis for coming out to give Shelton's trails a haircut on a steamy Saturday.

Join us Saturday 7/12 at 8:30 at Sinsabaugh Heights to cut out the rest of the Paugussett Trail down to Rt. 110.  We're meeting at the parking lot at the back of the neighborhood.  Bring water, bug spray, and your choice of weapon to deal with briars and brush.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Means Brook Greenway Trail System

You've probably never heard of the Means Brook Greenway, but we hope that changes. It includes Nicholdale Farm, Willis Woods,  Pearmain Preserve, and more.

New map of the greenway

Print out a full-page Greenway Map HERE (posted along with all the other trail maps at under the "Trails" tab).

What's a greenway?  Many people think that a greenway is a type of trail, as in the "Derby Greenway," and sometimes that's true. But not every greenway has a trail, and some have more than one trail. Merriam Webster defines a greenway as "a strip of undeveloped land near an urban area, set aside for recreational use or environmental protection." That strip of land might be 20 feet wide and consist entirely of a trail, or it may be a 500 yards wide and have no trails. As long as it's a protected corridor of greenspace, it's a greenway.

Shelton's Greenway System: Shelton has a system of interconnected conceptual greenways that were first outlined in the 1993 Open Space Plan, mostly following our waterways. One of these was the Means Brook Greenway, which follows Means Brook for nearly five miles from the Monroe Border to where it empties into the Far Mill River near Huntington Center. The greenway was "conceptual" because most of it was not actually protected in 1993 when the first Open Space Plan was drafted. Much of this greenway has since been preserved in various ways, sometimes private and other times public, including the Pearmain Preserve property which was purchased with the help of a state grant in 2018.

The Means Brook trail system is maintained by a cooperative effort between the Shelton Land Conservation Trust (a private, non-profit group) and the City of Shelton's Trails Committee. The trails cross a patchwork of conservation properties, some owned by the Land Trust or City of Shelton outright. Some of the properties are remain in private hands protected by easements, however, so it's important for people to remain on the blazed trails and respect the property owners. Also, hunting may occur on these lands, so hikers should wear bright colors in Autumn.

Public Access: The main parking area for the Nicholdale Farm and the Means Brook trail system is at #324 Leavenworth Road (Rt 110), with two additional parking areas located nearby, including a small pulloff on the north side of Leavenworth Road at the beginning of Stockmal Trail. Care should be taken when parking or crossing Leavenworth Road because cars are often travelling at 50 mph. The Nicholdale-Willis Woods Connector Trail leads to the highway crossing location with the best sight lines.

Future possibilities: On the greenway map you may notice a property called "Trombetta Woods" just over the river from the end of Stockmal Trail. That's a good-size piece of city open space without public access. If we can find a way to cross Means Brook, then Stockmal Trail could be extended. But this is a river that really floods, and the property is owned by the Aquarion Water Company, so it would need a substantial bridge and special permission would be needed cross that property.  There are serious obstacles to extending Stockmal Trail, but it's something we've looked at.

Monday, June 17, 2019

RecPath Fences Repaired

We walked the route of the CT Trails Day Hike the week before and everything was fine.  On Trails Day, 6/1/19 when we came to the bridge at Silent Waters we found this:

Some jerks went through, snapped fence post and knocked down fences on top of the dam along the RecPath.  The fences protected people from falling off the face of the historic dams along Silent Waters, so this wasn't just your stupid run-of-the-mill vandalism, this was public safety vandalism. 

The Trails Day hike went fine and no one was injured or harmed, but this had to get fixed.

Unfortunately, this occurred at the end of the City's fiscal year, and I won't get into the ugly details,  but it's challenging to get things purchased at this time of the year in Shelton.  The Trails Committee is also pretty strapped with mowing and brushcutting chores right now because everything is growing wildly on 28 miles of trails across town.

So the Mayor authorized some overtime for D&D Landscaping; a local contractor who has helped us out in the past.  Bill Dyer, Trails Committee Chairman, went over to Home Depot, and personally bought 40 fence rails (with his 10% Veteran's discount), and Terry Gallagher picked up 8 locust fence posts at Orange Fence Co. on Sat. and carried them up to the broken sections.

Long story short, Dan & Dave did a great job with Bill in pulling out the broken posts, cutting brush, resetting rails, and making the fence solid, safe and tight so the RecPath was safe for you, the public,  again.

New posts were installed, rails replaced, fence rails moved around and existing posts were tightened up.

A lot of lower fence rails were replaced, and the fences were straightened in a number of places. 

There's more to do, but the immediate crisis was fixed, and fixed well by D&D Landscaping and Trails volunteers.  This should make things safer for RecPath users. 

There's a lot of beautiful corners of Shelton along these trails.  If you're interested in seeing other portions of the Shelton Lakes Greenway join us Saturday, 6/22/19 at 8:30 on Constitution Blvd North for clearing along the Paugussett Trail.  See the trails work parties page for more info.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

What's the Name of that Song?

A lot of times in life we go thru places or things and we hear music in our heads.  Some of us can even nail down the tune quickly.  But for some of us we have to work at it.  Saturday at Lane St. a bunch of us worked along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path cutting briars, mowing hay and fixing boardwalks:

Mike Flament was leading this week's work party and replacing old boards in the boardwalk with Shayaan.  The two of them were probably hearing The Pretenders, while they worked.

The RecPath was busy Saturday too.  Mike and Sam probably thought they were working for ConnDOT on I-95 with all the traffic on their bridge job.

The hay was pretty thick along the RecPath and was getting out of control.  Normally the Land Trust has a farmer who hays it by now.

This mower was a out of it, but luckily we had a mower that was up to the task.

Jim and Mark drove over with the Gator and our mower and tried to cut back the hay field to restore our 3 foot wide RecPath back to 8 feet wide.  I think they both inhaled their own weight in grass seed that day.  If you have any bare spots in your lawn you can book them ahead of time and they'll stop by your home and just roll about in the grass and help re-seed the place on their way home.

This is the after picture.  We have to do some more close mowing or other controls to keep the meadow from taking over the RecPath, but this was a great start.

Rachel, Bella, Val, and Graham were doing a fine job clearing the cuttings and making the RecPath more presentable.  It was really nice having so many good volunteers take time out from their weekend to maintain one of Shelton's really special open spaces.

In case you were wondering where all that yellow pollen was coming from; White Pine flowers along the edge of the meadow.

There were other wildflowers along the Path in the meadow.

Grahmn was doing a great job with the new bushcutter.  It's deadly, but he just kept going with it.

Trail Safety Tip:  If you're running, biking, or walking on the trails, and volunteers are using power tools ahead of you, get their attention, and wait for them to stop before you pass.  You can get seriously hurt if they swing around suddenly and hit your with a brushcutter or chainsaw, which almost happened Saturday.  A trail runner almost scared the crap out of me when he passed as I was getting ready to swing around.  When you're working, hot, tired, and getting sprayed with rocks, poison ivy, briars, etc, and you're covered with hard hats, face masks, safety glasses, ear muffs, etc. you just don't hear people coming up behind you silently.  We want all our trail users to have a good time and return home with the same number of legs and parts that they set out with, so please, get our attention before you try to pass someone working on the trails with power tools.  For our sake and yours.

Shayann and Mike screwed down all the decking on the boardwalk after they made repairs.  Thanks to Betsey, Val, Grahamn, Mike, Sayann, Bella, Rachael, Jim, Mark, and Terry for all the hot work.  It really helps when there's a decent turn out.  The RecPath thru the Land Trust Meadow at Lane Street is one of Shelton's hidden wonders, and well worth the visit if you've never been there.

 At the end of the work party you turn off the equipment, pull off the ear muffs, listen to the birds and look around.  It's really a nice corner of Connecticut when you stop to enjoy it.  Now, what was that song that was going thru my head at the end?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

NOTICE: Rec Path closures and vehicular traffic pending

Trail map showing the Rec Path
Users of the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path ("Rec Path") should be aware of an upcoming major construction project that will impact a section of trail near Wesley Drive for about six months.

The Lane Street bridge over Means Brook, located near Huntington Street in Huntington Center, will be completely removed and replaced. During construction, Lane Street will be closed at the bridge. Access to Lane Street will be via a temporary paved road over the Rec Path between Wesley Drive and the east end of Lane Street (see map). This section of trail has served as an emergency accessway that can be used in the event of a major fire or other emergency. 

Rec Path from Wesley Drive, on emergency access road

The Rec Path will be widened to accommodate a 22-foot wide temporary roadway (Lane Street is 16 feet wide).  This will require major trees to be cut. The road will them be temporarily paved to prevent problems with dust. Expect trail closures while the trail is converted to a paved road.

Rec Path users will then be required to share the road with vehicles for the duration of the project, about six months. When the bridge work is complete, the pavement on the Rec Path will be removed. 

Lane Street from Huntington Street, with bridge. 
For more information about the bridge project, see this article from the Herald. Construction questions should be directed to the City Engineering Department.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Wildflower Walk WrapUp

The 2019 Wildflower Walk was held under clear and windy skys at Birchbank Mountain Saturday.

Red Trillium were up.  As were some of the Dutchman's Breeches.  The Trout Lilly's were just getting started after a cold and wet spring.

There were two test plots surrounded by deer exclosure fences that had many more wildflowers and bigger wildflowers that the surrounding woodlands.  A high deer population impacts other areas of the park due to overgrazing.

Click on the photo and zoom in on the Trilliums inside the fence.

All the brooks were running due to the recent rains.  The drainage channels put in the scouts were holding up.

Checking out some Jack-in-the-Pulpits that were coming out.

Blue Cohosh and ferns were also visible near Upper White Hills Brook.

The brook was really running.  Everyone stopped and took pictures at the Lower Bridge.

The Brook looked more like something from the White Mountains than Shelton.

The flume was really running fast.  Only Bailey went in for a swim.

We had some familiar friends show up unannounced.  People come from far and near for the Wildflower Walk.  Rich and Luis checking out the Upper Bridge.

Upper White Hills Brook was very scenic.  New construction is beginning nearby.

There were good views of the Housatonic River from the overlook with the hills just starting to green up.

Bailey jumped right up on top of the boulder once the snacks came out of the pack.  She probably slept well that night for all the back and forth walking along the trail.

There are a few trees down along the trails that can be cut up.  Some had been up high enough to walk under, but have now gotten low enough to block the trail.  Now if only we could find someone who knows how to cut trees.....

It was another good hike.  Everybody did some exploring and had a good time, saw some wildflowers, and no one fell into a brook.