Monday, August 27, 2018

Stockmal/Nicholdale Work Party

Great-looking crew
A nice crew turned up to clear out the trails at Nicholdale Farm and Willis Woods, including the new Stockmal Trail that was created last February.

Land Trust President Joe Welsh works on Stockmal Trail
Stockmal Trail had that 'new trail' syndrome, where vegetation sprouts up vigorously on the new tread. On older, well-used trails, the vegetation grows in from the sides, not from the middle of the trail.

Trails Committee members Bob, Val, and Mike
Brushcutters and string trimmers were a big help and made quick work of Stockmal Trail (blazed white).

Stockmal Trail - all clear now
There is a very short connector trail that has been blazed blue/white because it connects a blue trail to a white trail. From Nicholdale, the trail leads to the safest point to cross Rt 110 due to better sight lines. Parking is very limited across the highway at Willis Woods, so this connector allows hikers to access Stockmal Trail from the Nicholdale parking lots.

Nicholdale/Stockmal Connector at Rt 110
Crews also cleared out overgrow woodland sections of the blue Perimeter Trail at Nicholdale Farm. The meadow sections have been kept mowed all summer. There were lots of butterflies and wildflowers on the meadow section.

Nicholdale Perimeter Trail

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Counting the Volunteer Hours...

We've been keeping better track of volunteer hours lately by recording them as part of our monthly meeting minutes. Here's a rundown of the volunteer hours so far this year:

Total hours: 547
Trail Improvements: 119 hrs (Stockmal bridge, Poet Path benching)
Trail Maintenance: 428 hrs

This was a particularly difficult year, with two major storms that cause trees and limbs to fall across the trails, topped off with a very rainy summer. The vegetation just keeps growing!

Storm Damage: The February storm was the worst. For the months of February through April, 225 hours were spent clearing blowdowns, limbs, and sticks across the trails.  Another storm in May (the same one that dropped a few tornadoes across the state) wasn't quite as bad, but still dropped more trees onto trails that had just been cleared. Another 47.5 hours were recorded clearing blowdowns in May. That's a total of 272 hours clearing storm damage.

Vegetation: It's been a wet year, which means everything grows more. During the months of June and July, the peak growing season, volunteers worked for 155 hours, mostly cutting back vegetation from the trails, although some blowdowns were also cleared. Crews fell behind in part because they were still cleaning up storm damage while the plants were growing, and because it just wouldn't stop raining. In some cases, sections of trails became a jungle and nearly impassible. It can happen so fast.

Hours per mile. The volunteer hours were tracked for 25 miles of trails.
Storm Damage: 11 hrs/mile
Vegetation: 6.2 hrs/mile
Total Maintenance: 17 hours/mile

Rec Path: During the growing season, the multi-use Rec Path is a real job to keep clear, since parts of it are in damp, sunlit areas where everything grows fast. The Path is four miles long, or 16% of the trail mileage we were tracking, but 50% of the volunteer hours in June and July were spent there.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Where Can I Find Summer Wildflowers in Shelton?

A tough question, since after several weeks of thunderstorms, heat waves, record July rainfalls, and tropical high humidity, gee, nothing is growing in Shelton.  But you could try looking at Nells Rock Rock Road for a few flowers.

Maybe here along Rt. 108.  Allison Menendez planted the community garden by the Shelton Dog Park with a limited budget.   And not everything planted is a wildflower, but some things are natives, and they look pretty spectacular this time of year.

There's a very showy bed of flowers along the RecPath at Nells Rock Road.

Some are quite tall.

And others just lead your eyes into statues and various features.

You can take a walk along the RecPath from the Dog Park and find some native wildflowers nearby.  Some nearby spots like Silent Waters have scenic vistas of native aquatic water lillies scattered across the pond.  Silent Waters is on Constitution Boulevard North, across from the Shelton Intermediate School.

Another local spot is Eklund Garden, off Oak Valley Road.  It's an easy and relatively short walk there from the Dog Park along the RecPath and The Flower Path.  Please enjoy the garden and don't let you dog run off leash.  The native plants are there for everyone to enjoy.

Its a former homestead that has been re-landscaped as a native flower and plant sanctuary.

The bees like it.

As do the butterflies.

It's worth exploring.  You may be glad that you found it tucked away on a quite local side street.

Other locations also include the Shelton Land Conservation Trust's Nicholdale Farm, and Bushinsky Arboretum.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Josh Andes Eagle Scout Project: Trailside Benches


Bench at Silent Waters

Josh Andes completed his Eagle Scout project by constructing and installing benches along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. 

Bench at Silent Waters
There are people who very much enjoy bench-tossing, so these benches were well-secured to the ground. 

Bench at the Hope Lake overlook

Nice job!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Girl Scout Pollinator Garden at the Shelton Community Center

There was a pleasant surprise at the Shelton Community Center the other week.  A really nice semi-hidden natural garden had been planned and planted by one of the local girl scouts; Kathryn Wilkinson, as a Gold Scout project.

Love the sign.

The Pollinator Garden livens up the courtyard leading into the Huntington Branch Library, and the Parks and Recreation Office near the swimming pool at the rear of the Community Center.  Not only are there flowers, but flowers with a purpose to help out insects that pollinate our crops.

There's some cozy benches, crushed stone walks, and signs identifying the plants for inspiration in possible landscaping around your own home.

There's also bee houses and other enhancements to improve habitat along the garden.  It's a pretty landscape, but a working landscape also.  One of the objectives in public education about the problems of pollinators declining and how to help them survive, which helps us with growing the food that we need to survive.

It was a pleasure meeting Katy during the G.S. Bottle Drive this weekend.  This is a great project for the environment and Shelton; Thank You to everyone involved. 

You can park at the Community Center in Huntington Center to enjoy the Shelton Lakes RecPath on Lane Street.  Check out the new garden while you're there and help support the Girl Scouts.  They do good work.