Sunday, August 26, 2012

When We're Not Mowing Our Own Yards .....

The Trails Committee had a work party on the Recreation Path at Lane Street Saturday to clear brush that had severely encroached on the edges of the Path.  Jim was a little confused about the mission and started out trying to mow the crushed stone portion.  However, once we convinced him to concentrate on cutting the hay instead he got quite a bit of work done.

 Here's a section of the 8 foot wide path reduced to about 4' due to plant growth.  This is always a tough spot for volunteers to keep up with during the summer because the plants grow so quickly.

Luis started clearing out the shoulders with one of the sickle bar mowers.  The RecPath was very busy with customers this morning;  there were a number of folks out walking or running along the Path.  We tried to stop working when we saw someone approaching, but people should realize that the volunteers may not notice people approaching due to the power equipment.

The DR Mower was towed behind the Gator to mow the open areas along the meadows, but there was still a lot of hand work that needed to be done.

Sheri was clearing out some of the taller stuff with the gas-powered hedge trimmer.  It looks scary, but it's a useful tool for this type of edge clearing.

This is the Land Trust Meadow after clearing.  Sheri was remarking that her "cows would really like all that beautiful grass".  That's the farmer's view of open space. The meadow was mowed once this year, maybe they'll get a second mowing in, but right now it's great for butterflys and wildlife.

The Lane St. Boardwalk was all cleared off too.  It's an interesting spot because you can see all the plants that grow in the swamp along Means Brook without getting your feet wet.  It's hard to believe that it was six years ago that we built this boardwalk.

In addition to towing the DR Mower, the Gator makes a pretty handy wheelbarrow too.  Rich and Jim drove over with various implements of destruction for use in the work party.  Getting all the RecPath sections completed has simplified maintenance because it's easier to access a larger percentage of our trail network.

We did our usual recap at the end of the work party.  There are other areas that still need clearing and cutting, but this was a good chunk.  We had a lot of folks run or walk by and say good job, but I'm not sure if they fully understand that it takes a lot of work to keep the RecPath and trail system in good condition.  Volunteer help is always needed and welcome;  consider joining a work party, or just go out and clear some briars and brush in your free time.

Please join us on October 6th, 2012 for the RecPath Grand Opening Celebration.  It will be at the trailhead by the Dog Park on Nells Rock Road at 9:30.  Mark your calendars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Once again corporate involvement in the community has made its mark on the trails of Shelton. A group of volunteers from United Healthcare spent a day with members of the Shelton Trails Committee repairing trail damage and cutting a bypass around an existing trail. Team leader Li Peiqing was joined by Anne Beaudoin, Mindy Chmielewski, Brian Haswell, Lucia Liu, Adam Pallanck, and Mark Toman, all employees of United Healthcare. The Trails Committee was represented by chairman Bill Dyer, and members Sandie Kopac and Richard Skudlarek.

Click on images to enlarge 


It all started with this pile of road millings dumped at the foot of a section of the Paugussett Trail connector, provided by the City of Shelton.

Sandie tries to hide behind the Gator, while the real workers load millings.

The millings were then dumped and raked into deep ruts caused by heavy equipment traveling over soggy ground. Anne, Sandie, and Lucia's work made it possible for us to transport our mowing equipment to areas on the trail that badly need maintenance.

The Gator was invaluable in lugging tools and in transporting more than a dozen loads of heavy millings at distances of over 100 yards, a backbreaking task if done with cart or wheelbarrow.

Different location, different task. A new trail leg had to be cut through this thick jungle of brush and weeds. The existing trail was too close to a neighbor's property line.

After the initial swath was hacked and vegetation removed, an old pile of trash was uncovered right on the path and that, too, had to be removed. Mark takes a well-deserved break, as it was a hot, muggy day.

The final touch was a dressing of mulch to accent the path and stifle new growth.

Work complete, the gang rests in the shade, satisfied that their day's work made a difference.

 Thank you, United Healthcare and your eager volunteers!

And yet there's another side to these guys! 

Richard gets stuck picking up the tools and returning everything to the barn, as usual!

It was a tiring but fulfilling day. A lot was accomplished on two separate projects, and we on the Trails Committee once again had the satisfaction of working alongside corporate volunteers. Here's hoping that more civic-minded businesses will come forward to help us in our attempts to add to and improve Shelton's trails.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scenes from the Trails

 It's not all work, work, work on the trails.  Some people go out and have fun using them too!.

These folks are serious mountain bikers who like to ride single track, but are taking an easy day off on the RecPath.  

This gentleman was out walking his dog over by the Intermediate School.

And this guy was enjoying a relaxing day on the trails by Silent Waters.
Take advantage of this nice change in the weather and get out and enjoy the trails today.

Remember that Shelton's Trail System is largely built and maintained by volunteers (with some kind help from the Parks & Rec guys).  Contact the Trails Committee if you'd like to help out, or just lend a hand if you chance upon a work party.

Raiders of Nells Rock Road

The Nells Rock Trailhead was beginning to look like one of the jungle scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  With thunderstorms threatening the Trails Committee swung into action on August 11th, but not with machetes.

Jim was channeling a little 2-Cycle power with the sickle bar mower.  Stay out of this guy's way when he's working.

Meanwhile other folks were mowing or clearing brush in the near-tropical humidity.  The trailhead and some of the surrounding trails are much clearer and easier to follow now.  The Abby Wright parking lot is on Nells Rock Road across from L'Hermitage Condominiums.  

And since they still had some energy Bill & Lynn went across the street and did some clearing on the Chordas Pond trail that runs through City Open Space on the back side of the pond.  Jim & Rich went over the the RecPath off Oak Valley Road to take out a storm-damaged tree that had been hung up over the Path.  The tree was stubborn though so they had to whittle it down 6 feet at time.  Now it won't land on anybody's head while they are enjoying the RecPath.

There have been a lot of good developments on the trails this summer - look for notices of other activities and the Grand Opening of the RecPath this October 6th.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

20,000 Zinnia Seeds

This is what the zinnias from 20,000 seeds looks like. The garden is located at the corner of Nells Rock Road and Shelton Avenue, between the Rec Path and the Dog Park. Mayor Lauretti asked Master Gardener Allison Menendez to plant some showy flowers for the season, on a tight budget, and this is what Allision came up with. It definitely brightens up that corner and will be a nice backdrop for the Rec Path Grand Opening scheduled for October 6. 

Last year Allison planted tall sunflowers that were gorgeous until our friend Irene stopped by and knocked a few over. Zinnias are fairly indestructible. Allison's helpers were: Sharna Kozak, Kelly Walsh, Paul J. Kryzwick, Jim Squezello, Jim Capra, Teresa Rheisenberg, Lynn Reid, and Jay Knick.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Dog & Garden Walk

The First Annual Dog & Garden Walk was held last Sunday.  We started at the Shelton Dog Park, hiked out to the Eklund Native Species Garden and back along Hope Lake to the RecPath.  The native flowers at Eklund in the above photo were doing great.

There were almost as many 4-footed participants as there were 2-footed walkers.  The Dog Park on the corner of Nells Rock Road and Rt. 108 was pretty busy too.  It was even busier when we returned.  We started at the Dog Walk trailhead on the west end of the parking lot.  The trail is blazed with little paw prints on the trees.

We turned right when we hit the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path in the spruce grove and followed it south to Oak Valley Trail near Oak Valley Road.  We followed the new red flower blazes to Eklund Native Species Garden.

Giant Hyssops at Eklund

The flowers at Eklund were blooming well.  We took a little time to walk up to the top along the Heath Walk and enjoy the view down into the garden.  The Huntington Herald did a fine article on the garden this week.  Now is a good time to see it, and the parking area at 10 Oak Valley Lane was just improved by Pruzinsky and Sons.

The return walk followed a portion of the new Paugussett Trail (blazed blue) along the west side of Hope Lake.  There were several groups of people siting or fishing along the lake enjoying a Sunday afternoon.

We then came back along the Recreation Path to the Dog Park and RecPath Trailhead.  Ethan Fry did an in-depth article on the history of the RecPath in this week's Valley Sentinel that's really worth reading.

The new flower garden (aka "The Mayor's Garden") was doing well - a big green thumb award to Allison, Sharna, Lynn and anyone else who has been helping out with the garden.  It really dresses up the corner now that the White House is gone.
Zinnia Garden at the Dog Park
So we enjoyed two gardens, a dog park, woodland hiking trails, a lake, and a handicapped-accessible bike path;  all in one short 1.75 mile loop.  Not bad for a Sunday Stroll.