Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Baaaack!

A few years back, an anonymous party left a nice bench at the Rec Path parking area On Constitution Blvd. Your Trails Committee decided to place it next to the bridge overlooking the Silent Waters reservoir, where it provided a place to relax with a great view. It was enjoyed by many, but trusting as we were, we did not secure it. Vandals eventually decided it would be fun to deprive the public of a rest area and tossed it over the bridge. Fortunately, it landed in some heavy brush below, and we were able to retrieve it and keep it from harms way until it could be replaced.

Last Saturday we were able to restore and secure the bench. Hopefully, folks will get to relax and enjoy the scenic view and the goons will stay away. If you should see anyone tampering with this or any other trail items, please notify the police.

Click on photos to enlarge

Trails Committee members Jim, Terry, and Richard position the bench.

Rich digs one of the holes for the bench leg bases.

Rocks! Official New England crop! Terry helps open the hole.
Jim aligns the steel bar that will anchor the bench in concrete.
Terry adds water to the cement mix.

The bench is restored and ready for the next weary hiker!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Trail on Beech Tree Hill

Shelton has a new access trail in the White Hills, courtesy of Luke Claire from Boy Scout Troop 27 as part of the Eagle Scout program.   Although the property is small -- only 4.5 acres -- and the trail is only 500 feet long, it leads to a scenic pond that was previously inaccessible to the general public. 

OS #64-04  
The open space has plenty of frontage along both Pine Tree Hill Road and Beech Tree Hill Road, but it's nearly impossible to walk through the dense vegetation in many places, especially along Pine Tree Hill Road. The new trail begins on Beech Tree Hill Road, between houses #36 and #40. 

The footing was rather rough, so a thick layer of wood chips was spread across the trail. 

Update July 2020: This trail is now called "Little Pond Trail."  Both the trail and the pond are little.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You're Bluffing!

The Bluff Walk Trail is an easily accessed hike close to downtown Shelton but presenting a quiet and picturesque view of the Housatonic Dam. One section of the trail skirts two ball fields, and narrows between the outfield fences and a steep drop. This section tends to become overgrown quickly, and our work party's goal was to open up this path as well as clear the leaf litter that had gathered on the length of the trail over the summer.

Shelton Trail Committee Chairman Bill and members Terry and Richard were joined by volunteers Mike, Mary Beth, and Anthony on this Saturday. Committee member Sandie was our photographer.

Click on photos to enlarge

Knotweed, tons of it


Japanese Knotweed, Poison Ivy, Wild Grapes, and assorted brambles and choking vines obstructed the trail behind the baseball outfield fences

Bill uses power shrub trimmers to tackle the weeds....

...while Richard swings a machete

Mike fires up the leaf blower. The trails had a residue of fallen leaves left over from the previous Autumn

Mary Beth tries to find a place under the rug to hide all the cut vegetation
Anthony used most of the tools at hand in his efforts
The trail went from this...

...to this by the time we were through

Another productive Saturday, made possible with the help of volunteers. We hope to see some new faces pitching in at our next work party. Join us!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Do We Have Rattlesnakes?

Do we have rattlesnakes along the trails?  We don't know. Here's what we do know:
  • A total of three four rattlesnake sightings have been reported at Shelton Lakes over the past six years. Three sites were along the powerlines between Shelton Ave and Buddington Road, a fourth was several years ago near where the Intermediate School now stands. These reports have been forwarded to the CT DEEP.
  • Some snakes, including Black Rat Snakes and Hognose Snakes, mimic rattlesnakes as a defense mechanism (the above video is a harmless Black Rat Snake, while the one below is a Hognose Snake).  They may rattle their tails in dry leaves to make a rattle sound, or mimic the sound of a rattle with a particular type of hiss. Hognose snakes can also make their head appear freakishly like a cobra. Black Rat Snakes are very common at Shelton Lakes (they can be 5 or 6 feet long). Not sure if we have any Hognose Snakes or not.

  • The known range of the Timber Rattlesnake in Connecticut currently does not include Shelton. On the other hand, the Shelton Lakes/Nells Rock region has always been remote, with lots of rocky places for snakes to hide. The area had relatively little farming and was used instead for charcoal production.  So you never know.
Known Timber Rattlesnake Range (CT DEEP)

  • What if there really are Timber Rattlesnakes in Shelton?  No need to worry. Just think twice about sticking your hand in a rock crevice (I'm talking to you, Geocachers and Letterboxers).  These snakes are endangered in CT and should be treated with respect.  If you do see a snake you think might be a rattlesnake, please try to get a photo of it without endangering yourself, especially a high-quality photo of the tail, and forward that info my office at conservation@cityofshelton.org. Also take some photos of the snake at a distance or that include some recognizable distinct feature that can be verified (to prove that the photo was taken at that location and not in some other state). 
[UPDATE 9/9/2014:  I spoke with someone from the DEEP and was told that although rattlesnakes are theoretically possible they are "highly unlikely" in Shelton. A low-resolution of one of the most recently reported  'rattlesnakes' was forwarded to a herpetologist and although the photo was not clear, he though it looked more like a Black Rat Snake. Also, there are no historical records of rattlesnakes in Shelton. A verifiable, high resolution photo is needed.] 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Google Maps Can't Get Shelton Right

The grand opening for the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path was two full years ago, and that's how long I've been begging Google to fix their map. I've submitted repeated "Report a Problem" requests and also gone into their user editor mode (Google Map Maker) repeatedly. Every time I submit a request, I provide a link to our official City maps on our official City website as a reference. On rare occasion, they will actually make an attempt to fix it, and only make matters worse. After the latest "correction", we now have a network of trails all labeled "Shelton Lakes Recreation Path". This is like labeling every street in Bridgeport as "I-95".   I don't know who submitted some of the other trail information to Google, but I wish they would stop, because Google insists on labeling every single trail as the Rec Path, including bits and pieces of Oak Valley Trail, Nells Rock Trail, the Flower Trail, the Paugussett Trail, and an emergency fire access road that connects Lane Street to Wesley Drive. It's a mess. For the longest time, according to Google Maps, you could get on the Rec Path across the street from L'Hermitage Condos, which is very, very wrong.

Dear Google: Not everything is the Rec Path, including this emergency access road.

They can't get the parks right, either. They still have two "East Village Parks" in Shelton, one in the correct location on East Village Road, and one inexplicably over by the Monroe border. The second park is completely fictional and mostly covers land owned by the Aquarion Water Company and the Stockmal family. It's private property and you would be trespassing if you tried to walk it. That's another error I've repeatedly tried to correct over many years and am just ignored.

Most of this fictional "East Village Park" is private property (the correct East Village Park is off to the right).

Shelton's largest park went missing. Why?
While Google refuses to remove their fictional western "East Village Park," they did remove the largest park in Shelton, the 450+ acres of the Shelton Lakes Greenway.  I personally spent a lot of time entering the contorted property lines of this park into the Google Map edit mode for that greenway, and it was on the maps for a couple years. Then, one day, for no apparent reason, it just vanished. Why???  Again, I had provided official city documentation for my edits.

They also like to draw in private driveways as if they are roads. I've had a couple of those corrected, but why do they do that? At one time, they had Old Town Road continue on to the south of Buddington Road. We do have a paper street there, but not a drivable road. So I asked it to be removed. They responded, "you're right and we've fixed it!"  But when I looked, they had then made the neighbor's driveway, which runs alongside the City's paper street, look like a road. I tried to get that corrected but was just ignored.

That's a private driveway, not a road.
How does one go about requesting map changes in Google Map?  One option is to select a feature, and then select "Report a problem", which is in small type on the very bottom right side of the map. Another is to contribute via Google Map Maker. I encourage everyone to request that these issues be corrected.