Sunday, November 24, 2013

Riverview Rehab

Another clear, cool Autumn Saturday, and the Shelton Trails Committee conducts one of its seasonal leaf raking work parties, this time at our trail behind Riverview Park. This trail always suffers from an abundance of oak leaves, usually wet by the time we get to them, and thick where they've blown down from the park above.

Click on photos to enlarge

We had a nice turnout of volunteers, including two families with kids that were working to fulfill church or school community service goals.

David and one of his sons take on a section of the trail with leaf blower and rake.

 John and daughter Emily fine tune a path behind Committee Chairman Bill Dyer.

 Paulette takes a break with her sons Joseph and Josh. The family that works together gets good camera time together.

Spotting the camera, Richard and Jim of the Trails Committee attempt to keep up with the newest volunteers.

Thanks to Luis, John, David and Paulette and sons Joseph and Josh, and John and daughter Emily,  for taking time out of their Saturday to help make one of our trails more easily accessible. Trails Committee members Bill, Terrance, Lynn, Richard and Jim proudly observed their new recruits go through the paces. Join us next time for a few hours of fun, excitement, and callouses!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Go Blow It Out Your .....

..... Trail.

That's what Bill Dyer says.

Come out to Riverview Park on Rt. 110 and help us clear the Bluff Walk this Saturday.  Bring gloves, rakes, leaveblowers, pruners, and some warm weather.  Hopefully it doesn't snow or rain or sleet or hail.

We'll meet by the basketball courts in the center of the park and fan out from there.  If you've never been to Riverview this is a great way to explore one of Shelton's oldest parks overlooking the Housatonic River.


Maybe you can learn the story of the boy and the fish overlooking the dam.  So come out Saturday, it's a late start at 9:00, dress warmly, and explore the park and trails.

Royce York's Scout Project at the Abby Wright Open Space

Looking at Logan Clare's scout project at Nells Rock made me think back to what the trailhead used to look like.  Once Upon A Time the Abby Wright Open Space was the City's bulky waste dump.

And this was the good stuff; old pipe, broken catch basins, demolition debris, stumps.  The City at one point planned on creating a landfill for sewage sludge in the the wetland at the center of the property.  Before 1998 this was Shelton's second largest open space and a number of people said what can be done to improve it.

A very attractive Chordas Pond and L'Hermitage Condominium were across the street and it seemed like a no-brainer to clean up the park.  A number of attempts were made to beautify the property and open it up to the public, but it was always against a certain amount of social inertia that the property was good for nothing except a dump and that there was no reason to spend resources to fix it up.

Royce worked with his scout troop (and his dad also named Royce), to clear out a parking area off Nells Rock Road, cut brush, install a split rail fence to limit vehicle access and prevent illegal dumping.  Here's Bill Dyer offering positive encouragement on Royce & Royce's fence building efforts in April 2005.

This helped get people in and enjoy the trails on the property.  Eventually the Bridges and Highways, and Parks and Recreation departments hauled away the old pipes and debris for a proper disposal.  Road millings were brought in to create a parking surface, and over the years numerous work parties and scout projects have improved things bit by bit.

The trailhead has been improved, kiosks installed, trails extended to other parks and open space parcels, various improvements by City Departments and on-going work by volunteers.  Abby Wright and the Nells Loop Trail went from being a potential landfill to one of the City's most popular open spaces.  And this was all because someone rolled up their sleeves and said we can do something to clean up this mess.  Thanks Royce for showing that scouts can create positive changes in their communities.                                  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Winterberrys and Posts

Saturday was a beautiful Fall day, warm, clear, with a lot of people out enjoying the parks.

The big beech tree near the Red Barn is finally turning.  This one had held on to summer later than all the rest, but the frosts were finally getting to it.  Winter is coming.

The wildlife is getting ready for Fall yesterday too.  Here's a flock of turkeys in their natural habitat; the 12th green at Tashua Knolls.  They need to move out of the way quicker, Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away.

Sunday was a different day, it started out a somber grey, but it looked dry enough so we started to install the last of the trail marker posts on the Paugussett Trail.  It was misting when I started, but not too bad.

But then it rained once I got out at the Wiacek Open Space on Constitution Boulevard North.  Since everything was wet we kept on going.  The trail marker posts go along the edge of the meadow and the blazes are high enough to be seen when the hay is high.

The Winterberrys are in rare form this year.  This one is at the junction to the Soundview Garden Cut-Off Path.  They like full sun and wet feet.  They really stand out in this portion of the Paugussett Trail now that the leaves are down.

The Asiatic Bittersweet was also doing well along the powerlines.  A non-native invasive species that's not good to have but it's tough to control and spreads along corridors like the powerlines.

South of Wellington Court the trail was re-routed off the powerlines into the woods.  If you look closely, you can see the holes drilled by a sapsucker into this small tree right above the blaze to turn right.

A post was added to replace a small stone cairn on the powerlines South of Wellington Court.  Chuck Sack from CFPA had walked the route and the additional marker should clear up any confusion on which way to go when traveling north.  Somebody topped a bunch of pines under the powerlines and left all the tops right along the trail - probably the power company - hopefully it keeps down some of the briars.

The rain had turned to a dense fog by the time I finished at Wellington Court.  Another post was added to show the turn going South - see it's clear as a bell.

One reason that we try to make the blazes clear is to help hikers and residents find their way during bad weather.  Today was a good test.

Helpful Trail Tip:  Remember to put a flashlight in your pocket when going out on late afternoon walks this time of the year, particularly if the weather is iffy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sign Boards on the New England Trail

While hiking around the state, I'm always looking at how other organizations set up and maintain their trail. Here are some recently placed sign boards for the New England National Scenic Trail in Middletown. The sign boards are set well in off the road near the first trail junction you come to. There's a laminated trail map and a QR code below it you can scan if you have a smart phone to get a map on your phone. We do have a few laminated maps like this on the trails in the Nells Rock area where people tend to get lost, but they are just stapled onto trees. Having a sign board like this to attach the maps to would look pretty sharp. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All Fall Down!

Leaves, Autumn, crisp, cool air! There's no getting around leaf raking and blowing. Some of our trails need work, too! This Saturday we had a nice group of volunteers helping to clean up our Boehm Pond Trial, one of our lesser known, but delightful, neighborhood paths right on Far Mill Street.

Click on photos to enlarge
This trail, actually multiple trails, passes through serene woods, one leg terminating at Boehm Pond.
Armed with leaf-blowers and rakes, young volunteers breezed through the several trail legs at Boehm (no pun intended).
These guys were born to do this!
The trail is now visible and free of obstructions.
Meanwhile, work progresses on creating a walkway over a perpetually soggy area that was difficult to bypass.
Stakes were created on the spot.
You're supposed to hit the stake!

Thanks to volunteers Josh and Jerry, Ryon, Alex, Wesley, Samantha, Jared, and another volunteer that did not leave his name. The Trails Committee was loosely represented by Bill, Terry, Lynn, Jim, and Richard.

Logan Clare's Scout Project at Nells Rock

Logan's was another in a great series of scout projects on Shelton's trail system this we've benefited from this year.  He was working on the Nells Rock Loop on the Abby Wright Open Space on Nells Rock Road.

Coming out of the parking lot if you go left you will soon cross a boulder field that the trail traverses.  Logan and his team dug up a number of loose stones in that and re-laid them in a level tread.  The idea was to keep the trail corridor looking rustic, but improve the footing so you didn't have to bust an ankle getting across the rocks.  The trail goes between a ledge and swamp in this spot and it's the only route.

But busting rocks isn't all that Logan's team from Troop 27 did.  They also built a short bridge over a stream (dry due to drought in this photo, but often wet) further out on the loop.  The nice thing about Nells Rock Trail is that is a stacked Figure 8 trail so you can do a short inner loop, a longer outer loop, or tie in in with a longer walk along the Shelton Lakes network

These trails are also particularly good for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, so get out and enjoy them this fall and winter.  Thanks Logan for all your help on Shelton's trails.   Now Troop 27 has to schedule a winter skiing or snowshoeing event on Nells Loop.

Update:  A surplus of $62.00 was donated to the Conservation Commission, and is ear-marked for future Scout projects. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meet the Trails Committee

Here's the entire Trails Committee modeling some new scarves that Lynn made while she was injured and couldn't work on the trails. From left to right:  Richard Skudlarek (our chainsaw master), Sandie Skudlarek (they recently got married on the Rec Path overlooking Silent Waters), Terry Gallagher, Lynn Reid, Bill Dyer (Chair), Sheri Dutkanicz, and Jim Taradine.  Bill and Sheri are also members of the Conservation Commission.  They are a committee of doers, not talkers, so most of the time they are clearing trails rather than attending meetings. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bobcats in Derby Next Week

The CT DEEEP is hosting a very civilized talk about Bobcats in Connecticut in Derby next week.

Ok, maybe not this civilized.  But the talk will be civilized and there'll be a live bobcat at the Kellogg Center in Derby next Tuesday November 12th at 7:00.  The Center is located on Hawthorne Avenue just off Rt. 34 and is a great place for a nature talk.

You can learn a lot of good Bobcat Facts and may even be able to tell the difference between a bobcat and a mountain lion.  The cost is $5 (suggested).

It sounds like fun, and my favorite part is at the end, when they take the child or person from the audience who was most annoying during the talk, give him or her a head start, and see if they can out-race the bobcat to the lobby.  People are allowed to bet on how far they get.  OK, this last part may be exaggerated, but they might just start next week and my money is on the turtle pond.