Monday, September 24, 2012

Roots............and weeds

The weather was perfect for a Saturday morning of sprucing up the Shelton Lakes Rec Path. T-shirt climate without the humidity. Even in the Fall, weeds can be a problem, so we decided to tidy up the area around the Silent Waters dam. A load of wood mulch was provided by the Parks and Recreation Dept. and we set to work pulling weeds and blanketing the side of the path.

Click on photos to enlarge

Richard demonstrates to two volunteers how to avoid stabbing your foot with a hay fork. ('re standing in poison ivy!)

 Pulling weeds and spreading mulch. Looks easy until you try it!

 Great day for biking!

Not content with just pulling weeds, Sandie tries to cut back growth to the water line.

 Terry rests after a few hours of stooping over a power weed cutter.

 Nice clean lines now create a buffer between the trail and the undergrowth.

We weren't even finished when we had happy visitors using our "rest area".

This bench, by the way, was left by an anonymous donor at the parking area on Constitution Blvd. We found the perfect setting for it, overlooking the flora and fauna of the Silent Waters.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rotten at Heart

Jim and Rich went out before yesterday's windstorm (bad timing on their part) and took down a couple of sickly-lookin' trees along the RecPath that looked like they might cause trouble for the Grand Opening Celebration.  Here's Jim examining the best way to chop down the tree by sticking his head underneath it.  He is wearing a hard hat so we can identify him at a later date.

The Chainsaw Couple stopped traffic along the Path and dropped the trees.

Lo and Behold there was not much live tree actually holding itself up.  After congratulating themselves that their suspicions were correct, they cleaned up the work zone and moved on.  It's always amazing how strong wood is when it wants to be stubborn.

The RecPath is now (or until yesterday was) clear of hung up trees that might land on Grand Opening Visitors.  This was near the high point in the RecPath overlooking Hope Lake.  It's usually a bad thing if a tree lands in the middle of a ribbon cutting ceremony.

There is still time to help out with trails maintenance.  Another exciting work party is scheduled for this Saturday 9/22 at 8:30.  Meeting at the Intermediate School parking lot on Constitution Boulevard North.  We work on the RecPath around Silent Waters.  Bring forks, weed wackers, loppers, rakes, pruners, gloves, water, and doughnuts.  It should be fun.  Maybe we'll even drop some trees.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pine Lake Spruce Up

Winterberrys at Pine Lake
The Trails Committee is scrambling to spruce up the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path for the October 6th Grand Opening Ceremony & Hike.  Above is a view of Pine Lake from the trailhead.  The Winterberry planted by the Boy Scouts a few years ago are really doing well.  The shrub is not only a beautiful ornamental, but it is also a native species that provides a key food source for wildlife.

The downtown gateway at Pine Lake was overgrown and has needed maintenance for some time.  Despite the threat of tornado warnings and wicked windy weather the Trails Committee and volunteers ventured forth to vanquish vegetation.  Poison ivy was waded through, vines pulled, briars were chopped, broken trees dropped, and invasive Japanese Knotweed mowed.

It was good to see the RecPath getting a lot of use that morning from hikers, runners, walkers and bike riders.  Most people were great at stopping when we were dropping hung up trees and branches that were a hazard.  We've got to get some signs made up reminding people about entering a trail work zone and actually checking ahead before letting them through; although the red pole saw worked well for that.  We had a couple of runners pass by with headphones while we were using power equipment and it would have been unfortunate if there was an accident.

Trail Safety Tip: Trail volunteers in work parties often are not aware someone is walking by particularly when using power tools.  Picture yourself: sweat running down your eyes, cutting a tree, concentrating on where it's going and not trying to hit your co-workers.  You don't always notice a jogger or biker going under the tree until they're right in front of you.  Even a little 8" birch, when dropped from 20 feet, will put a dent in your day.  The trails are generally very safe; enjoy exploring them, but realize that you are doing so at your own risk.  Be aware of your surroundings and don't assume that everything is 100% safe just because you're in the woods.

This picture captures some of the organized mayhem when we were taking down some of the hanging trees and broken tops that were dangling over the RecPath.  There are a lot of people moving around dropping, cutting, dragging stuff, etc.  We are pretty safe but it's easy to not notice someone running through the work area when you're focusing on other tasks.

Here's Sandie looking official with her Personal Protective Equipment.  It's sometimes helpful to wear a hard hat when you're pulling vines out of trees because you never know what else will unexpectedly decide that it wants to fall on you or your friends.

We also added some millings where the RepPath settled at the bridge for handicapped accessibility.  A 3" lip may not be much to step over but it is a barrier if you are in a wheelchair.  More millings need to be added and compacted to make a smoother transition, but this is what we could do with 5 gallon pails of road millings.  The RecPath is a great spot for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but sometimes little things that most people don't think about are big barriers for universal access.  We did see one family with a baby stroller make a nice exit from the bridge deck without the sharp drop right after we finished, so that was gratifying.

It was a productive work party, and we had some fun afterwards at the picnic area.  Pine Lake is a really pretty spot to visit along Rt. 108 and one of the scenic high points along the Shelton Lakes Greenway.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thank You Highways & Bridges

On Friday August 24th a good neighbor called in a report of an oil spill on the newly completed section of the RecPath off Oak Valley Lane.

Do these things always have to happen on Friday afternoons?

This generated a flurry of calls with the Conservation Agent, CT DEEP, Shelton Highways & Bridges Department, and a cast of dozens.  Long Story Short it looks like rather than dispose of it legally someone backed up a truck and dumped waste oil, sludge, and crud on the RecPath when they couldn't get past the locked gate.

Because it wasn't an imminent hazard the spot was roped off, and cleaned up by the Shelton Highways & Bridges Department on Monday.  They took away the oil, sludge, and stained dirt for legal disposal.  They came back on Tuesday and filled in the excavated hole with fine processed aggregate (aka crushed stone mix) and re-rolled the RecPath as you can see in the photo below.  The good part is that the public works folks did a fine repair.  The bad part is that they had to put something else off in order to clean up this mess.

A Big THANK YOU to the Highways & Bridges guys - nice job.

It takes a lot of people to take care of miles of trail and thousands of acres of open space.  If you see somebody doing illegal dumping please write down a description of the people, vehicle, license plate, etc. and call the Shelton Police Department at (203) 924-1544.  You help is appreciated.

There is an upcoming Trail Work Party this Saturday, 9/8/12 at 8:30 to do clearing work on the RecPath.  We'll meet at 8:30 at the Pine Lake parking lot on Rt. 108 near downtown.  Bring gloves, water, shovels, tampers, weed whackers, pole saws, and rakes.  We are trying to clean up the RecPath prior to the Grand Opening Celebration on October 6th.  The more the merrier.

The City will be holding the Annual Hazardous Waste Collection Day downtown at the City Garage on October 20, 2012.  You can clean out the old waste oil or paint thinner from your garage or basement legally.  Plan ahead and take advantage of this opportunity, don't dump goo on the trails.