Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stop Growing D#%*$t!


A lot of work & attention has been going into the recent Shelton Lakes Recreation Path construction lately and getting the RecPath in shape for the recent National Trails Day hike. This means that a lot of other trails have not gotten needed maintenance, which combined with record rainfalls means that things have gotten way, Way, WAY out of hand.

Here's a portion of the Paugussett Trail near Dyer Straits (between Independence Drive and Wellington Court). It was impassible to anything short of tigers or ticks. So Jim & Rich fired up the DR Field Mower and swung into action on June 15th.


The DR Mower is towed behind our Gator & allows us to keep up with brush. The Paugussett Trail along the powerlines has some of our most aggressive plant growth and it's hard to keep up with it with just hand tools.


This is another section of the Paugussett Trail north of Rt. 108. This stretch is popular with mountain bikers, residents of surrounding streets, and the High School Cross Country Team.


It was hot work but Rich & Jim got a lot done for just two guys. Unfortunately it's been two weeks since the mowing was done & the Paugussett needs a new haircut.

If you like using the trails come out for a work party some time. Many hands makes for light work as Bill likes to say, and these trails don't keep themselves clear.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great Job at Wesley Drive

The guys from Fairview Tree Farm & Pruzinsky & Sons have really outdone themselves this week on the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path.

They were just wrapping up as I stopped by after work. They installed concrete pavers instead of bituminous pavement as the warning pad at Wesley Drive. They also did a great job mulching and planting landscaping the slope below the Path.

This was one of the toughest pieces of the entire RecPath because it had to have handicapped-accessible grades, function well, and look halfway decent. Brad Wells and Bob Pruzinsky & their associates did a nice job solving this problem area and really exceeded our expectations on this section.

It's been a busy week. In addition to the Wesley entrance they built a retaining wall, added drainage, finished close to 4/10ths of a mile of RecPath, stabilized slopes with mulch, and relocated 2 timber bridges. If the weather isn't too bad tomorrow they may be close to finishing this section.

Take a walk or bike ride this weekend to visit the new section and see how it connects to Huntington Center. Do a little exploring and see what Shelton has to offer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bloomin' Mountain Laurel

The weather this weekend was a bit drippy but that didn't stop some folks from getting out.

This guy was having fun mountain biking some of the new sections of the RecPath behind Wesley Drive. The contractors are making good progress there & should complete most of that section this week if the weather cooperates a bit.

For those who like to ride on more rugged trails - try the Paugussett Blue Dot trail North of Rt. 108 - it may need mowing in some areas because we haven't been able to get to it, but it's got some challenging terrain.

A number of trail users were out enjoying the Path, including this 4-footed customer taking her human out for a walk between the rain drops.

The RecPath behind Wesley curls along the top of a ridge overlooking scenic, and newly named, Basil Brook. There were a couple of nice deer standing on the Path two days in a row. Its a very pretty area with the brook running, but bring some OFF.

This was one of the scenes from last weekend's hike. The trail twins have talked their adults into getting matching trikes. Now all they have to do is talk them into racing. One of the nice things about making the RecPath handicapped-accessible is that it opens up hundreds of acres of greenway and parkland for the enjoyment of families - no matter how young. Now all we have to do is get these kids on a trail work party one of these days.

The mountain laurel are in rare form this week. People should force themselves to get out on the trails and see the show this week. The best places to see the Laurel are Oak Valley Road at the Eklund Native Species Garden, the RecPath south of the Dog Park, and the Paugussett Trail north of Rt. 108 along the powerlines. Go tomorrow - don't miss it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Its Hammer Time

No, No, No. Not that Hammer.

This Hammer.

The contractors from S.P. Pruzinsky & Sons have this cute little mini-excavator with a chipping hammer on it that they used to remove ledge and boulders from the RecPath. Chipping the boulders with a hydraulic hammer is more discrete and less damaging than tearing everything up with blasting and larger machines. That's one way they are able to do some environmentally-strategic work with limited disturbance along the route.

Here's an example of one spot south of the Dog Park where the Path was threaded between a rock outcrop and some red oaks that we were trying to save.

But you can't always use the little machinery to get things done. This is the medium-sized excavator that Steve Pruzinsky has been using to grade most of the RecPath. This machine has a hydraulic thumb on the bucket that is used to move boulders and build retaining walls. The goal is to make the slopes look natural were possible.

But the RecPath is going through some rugged terrain and sometimes you hit ledge that just doesn't want to move.

Then it's Hammer Time with the big excavator. The Pruzinsky team was able to create an 8% handicapped-accessible grade at one of the Wesley Drive crossings using this impressive beast. The contractors did a nice job limiting the time of construction near the neighboring houses by using some big equipment to knock this out. You definitely Can't Touch This.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Great Hike for Shelton Trails Day

We finally lucked out with the weather on one of our trail events this year! Saturday's Trails Day Hike was great & we had 40-45 people out to enjoy a fine walk on the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path.

Dick Skudlarek did a great job with the photography. The mountain laurel were in excellent shape along the powerlines. There are also a number of fine photographs taken by Beren Jones on the Shelton Patch. He hiked the whole route & from the sounds of it Bill & Tom gave him a running history of the Shelton Lakes Greenway in three part harmony. Nice job of reporting Beren.

Mayor Lauretti started out the festivities by reading off his annual Shelton Trails Day proclamation (in between running the Family 5K race at the High School & heading downtown for the Relay for Life).

We started off at Pine Lake, crossed Meadow St. and then up toward the schools (this was part of the route for the race about an hour earlier).

It was a nice turn out and we passed a lot of other families enjoying the RecPath, baseball games, or the Dog Park along the RecPath.

Everybody seemed to enjoy the newly constructed sections of the RecPath overlooking Hope Lake. We then headed out to Oak Valley Road & off to Eklund.

We got a nice tour of the Eklund Native Species Garden - a number of things were in bloom. (We can always use more help for Eklund if anybody is interested in native plants and gardening - call Teresa Gallagher at (203) 924-1555 x 315.

Following Eklund we proceeded along the Bridge-to-Bridge route though shady mature woodlands.

The mountain laurel along the powerlines are really pretty this year. Must be all the snow & rain we had earlier is good for something after all.

Eventually we came out near Huntington Woods where one of the new RecPath sections is under construction.

And by under construction, we mean REALLY under construction. Some hikes will cut a little brush or mow some grass in preparation for Trails Day, buy how many towns go out and chop ledge out the way.

This was one of the most challenging spots on the RecPath to create handicapped-accessible grades. Nothing a big hammer cant fix. The contractors from Fairview Tree Farm & Pruzinsky & Sons are doing a great job on this project.

We then proceeded down the RecPath on some of the more completed sections to the beautiful Land Trust Meadow. Following the boardwalk & a little more open meadow we came to Scenic Lane St. and on to Huntington Center for shuttles and refreshments.

The nice folks at The Higgins Group once again had ice cold water for the hikers; 2 legged and 4 legged. It was much appreciated as we were arranging shuttles back to the starting point.

Time for a little lunch and refreshment at Trails End at the Huntington Street Cafe. One of the nice things about this hike is there are a number of places to grab lunch, an ice cream, or a cold beverage following the hike.

Thanks to everybody at the Chamber of Commerce, Shelton Patch, Valley Sentinel & Huntington Herald who helped publicize our hike. We hope everybody who came out enjoyed the day. Thanks to the Mayor and all the volunteers and everyone else who worked on the trails to make this another fine success.

Friday, June 3, 2011

National Trails Day Happenings

Join us for the Annual Shelton Trails Day Hike on Saturday June 4, 2011. We'll be doing the Bridge-to-Bridge Route along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. The start will be at Pine Lake on Rt. 108, about a half mile west of downtown Shelton. The length will be 4.5 miles of easy walking and biking, and should take about 2 - 2 1/2 hours depending on the pace.

There have been a lot of great new developments that we want to show off:

  • The beginning and ending thirds of the path are now handicapped accessible with a fine gravel surface, and portions of the rest are under construction. (the center section of the hike is NOT handicapped accessible yet - but it will be one of these days). Truth In Advertising: Portions of the middle section are under construction - so the footing is a little rough for some but very passable. The contractors are making great progress.
  • The route now overlooks historic dams & lakes. There are some great new views of streams and wetlands along the way.
  • We will pass by the new Shelton Dog Park (and yes dogs on leases are welcome on the hike). We'll even show off The Red Barn that we fixed up.
  • The Eklund Native Species garden will be along the way - and it should be very beautiful this year.
  • The route will use the new mountain bike bypass and J-Pond Bridge constructed by scouts last year (mountain bikes are welcome too).
  • New RecPath construction will be on display through the Wesley Drive area, but the route will be safe and feature new vistas created by Pruzinsky & Son and Fairview Tree Farm.
  • New handicapped accessible sections have been constructed down to the Land Trust Meadow on Lane Street - allowing a nice short walk or bike ride from Huntington Center.
Some of the new RecPath improvements along Wesley Drive at Lizard Head Rock feature dramatic topography & nearby wetlands and streams.

The Mayor will be at the start to read his annual proclamation. Shuttles will be available for return rides to Pine Lake.

Helpful Tip: If possible, take two cars and leave one in Huntington Center, or leave a car in Huntington Center in the morning and get dropped off at the start).

It should be a great day - come and join us on a free family-friendly event. There is also a hike at Jones Tree Farm, the Family 5K Run at the High School, and the Relay for Life downtown at the Riverwalk - so it's Get-In-Motion Day in Shelton. We'll probably stop at the Huntington Street Cafe for lunch and beverages after the hike. Come out, have fun, and see what your trails volunteers have been up to this year.