Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cut, cut, cut the brush, as far as you can see ......

Mow that brush.  Nothing like a lot of rain and sunshine to fill in the trails with plant growth.  So the Trails Committee and volunteers braved the June heat and humidity to cut back the vegetation along the Paugussett Trail from Constitution Blvd North going North and South.

For some reason I feel a song about a boat coming on.......

Jim and Luis took the Gator and mower and cleared various spots out to Wellington CT, past Independence Dr., and down along the RecPath.  It was hot, buggy, and did we say hot?  The guys did a great job mowing with the Gator.

Mark Vallero cut out portions of the Turkey Trot, Paugussett Trail, and other spots before he had to go home to work on his own house.  Obviously, he has to work on his sense of priorities.

One of the "before" pictures along the Paugussett Trail.  We cut all this back and made the trail more tick unfriendly for the hikers and bikers passing thru.  Bill Dyer dove into this and cut stuff back until he had to leave. 

We cleared out down to Meadow Street at Mayflower Lane.  There's more that can be cut (as always at this time of the year), but the trail looks better and is more passable.  Thanks to Betsy, Graham, Bob, Bill, Mark, Val, Mike, Terry, Jim and Luis for coming out to give Shelton's trails a haircut on a steamy Saturday.

Join us Saturday 7/12 at 8:30 at Sinsabaugh Heights to cut out the rest of the Paugussett Trail down to Rt. 110.  We're meeting at the parking lot at the back of the neighborhood.  Bring water, bug spray, and your choice of weapon to deal with briars and brush.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Means Brook Greenway Trail System

You've probably never heard of the Means Brook Greenway, but we hope that changes. It includes Nicholdale Farm, Willis Woods,  Pearmain Preserve, and more.

New map of the greenway

Print out a full-page Greenway Map HERE (posted along with all the other trail maps at under the "Trails" tab).

What's a greenway?  Many people think that a greenway is a type of trail, as in the "Derby Greenway," and sometimes that's true. But not every greenway has a trail, and some have more than one trail. Merriam Webster defines a greenway as "a strip of undeveloped land near an urban area, set aside for recreational use or environmental protection." That strip of land might be 20 feet wide and consist entirely of a trail, or it may be a 500 yards wide and have no trails. As long as it's a protected corridor of greenspace, it's a greenway.

Shelton's Greenway System: Shelton has a system of interconnected conceptual greenways that were first outlined in the 1993 Open Space Plan, mostly following our waterways. One of these was the Means Brook Greenway, which follows Means Brook for nearly five miles from the Monroe Border to where it empties into the Far Mill River near Huntington Center. The greenway was "conceptual" because most of it was not actually protected in 1993 when the first Open Space Plan was drafted. Much of this greenway has since been preserved in various ways, sometimes private and other times public, including the Pearmain Preserve property which was purchased with the help of a state grant in 2018.

The Means Brook trail system is maintained by a cooperative effort between the Shelton Land Conservation Trust (a private, non-profit group) and the City of Shelton's Trails Committee. The trails cross a patchwork of conservation properties, some owned by the Land Trust or City of Shelton outright. Some of the properties are remain in private hands protected by easements, however, so it's important for people to remain on the blazed trails and respect the property owners. Also, hunting may occur on these lands, so hikers should wear bright colors in Autumn.

Public Access: The main parking area for the Nicholdale Farm and the Means Brook trail system is at #324 Leavenworth Road (Rt 110), with two additional parking areas located nearby, including a small pulloff on the north side of Leavenworth Road at the beginning of Stockmal Trail. Care should be taken when parking or crossing Leavenworth Road because cars are often travelling at 50 mph. The Nicholdale-Willis Woods Connector Trail leads to the highway crossing location with the best sight lines.

Future possibilities: On the greenway map you may notice a property called "Trombetta Woods" just over the river from the end of Stockmal Trail. That's a good-size piece of city open space without public access. If we can find a way to cross Means Brook, then Stockmal Trail could be extended. But this is a river that really floods, and the property is owned by the Aquarion Water Company, so it would need a substantial bridge and special permission would be needed cross that property.  There are serious obstacles to extending Stockmal Trail, but it's something we've looked at.

Monday, June 17, 2019

RecPath Fences Repaired

We walked the route of the CT Trails Day Hike the week before and everything was fine.  On Trails Day, 6/1/19 when we came to the bridge at Silent Waters we found this:

Some jerks went through, snapped fence post and knocked down fences on top of the dam along the RecPath.  The fences protected people from falling off the face of the historic dams along Silent Waters, so this wasn't just your stupid run-of-the-mill vandalism, this was public safety vandalism. 

The Trails Day hike went fine and no one was injured or harmed, but this had to get fixed.

Unfortunately, this occurred at the end of the City's fiscal year, and I won't get into the ugly details,  but it's challenging to get things purchased at this time of the year in Shelton.  The Trails Committee is also pretty strapped with mowing and brushcutting chores right now because everything is growing wildly on 28 miles of trails across town.

So the Mayor authorized some overtime for D&D Landscaping; a local contractor who has helped us out in the past.  Bill Dyer, Trails Committee Chairman, went over to Home Depot, and personally bought 40 fence rails (with his 10% Veteran's discount), and Terry Gallagher picked up 8 locust fence posts at Orange Fence Co. on Sat. and carried them up to the broken sections.

Long story short, Dan & Dave did a great job with Bill in pulling out the broken posts, cutting brush, resetting rails, and making the fence solid, safe and tight so the RecPath was safe for you, the public,  again.

New posts were installed, rails replaced, fence rails moved around and existing posts were tightened up.

A lot of lower fence rails were replaced, and the fences were straightened in a number of places. 

There's more to do, but the immediate crisis was fixed, and fixed well by D&D Landscaping and Trails volunteers.  This should make things safer for RecPath users. 

There's a lot of beautiful corners of Shelton along these trails.  If you're interested in seeing other portions of the Shelton Lakes Greenway join us Saturday, 6/22/19 at 8:30 on Constitution Blvd North for clearing along the Paugussett Trail.  See the trails work parties page for more info.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

What's the Name of that Song?

A lot of times in life we go thru places or things and we hear music in our heads.  Some of us can even nail down the tune quickly.  But for some of us we have to work at it.  Saturday at Lane St. a bunch of us worked along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path cutting briars, mowing hay and fixing boardwalks:

Mike Flament was leading this week's work party and replacing old boards in the boardwalk with Shayaan.  The two of them were probably hearing The Pretenders, while they worked.

The RecPath was busy Saturday too.  Mike and Sam probably thought they were working for ConnDOT on I-95 with all the traffic on their bridge job.

The hay was pretty thick along the RecPath and was getting out of control.  Normally the Land Trust has a farmer who hays it by now.

This mower was a out of it, but luckily we had a mower that was up to the task.

Jim and Mark drove over with the Gator and our mower and tried to cut back the hay field to restore our 3 foot wide RecPath back to 8 feet wide.  I think they both inhaled their own weight in grass seed that day.  If you have any bare spots in your lawn you can book them ahead of time and they'll stop by your home and just roll about in the grass and help re-seed the place on their way home.

This is the after picture.  We have to do some more close mowing or other controls to keep the meadow from taking over the RecPath, but this was a great start.

Rachel, Bella, Val, and Graham were doing a fine job clearing the cuttings and making the RecPath more presentable.  It was really nice having so many good volunteers take time out from their weekend to maintain one of Shelton's really special open spaces.

In case you were wondering where all that yellow pollen was coming from; White Pine flowers along the edge of the meadow.

There were other wildflowers along the Path in the meadow.

Grahmn was doing a great job with the new bushcutter.  It's deadly, but he just kept going with it.

Trail Safety Tip:  If you're running, biking, or walking on the trails, and volunteers are using power tools ahead of you, get their attention, and wait for them to stop before you pass.  You can get seriously hurt if they swing around suddenly and hit your with a brushcutter or chainsaw, which almost happened Saturday.  A trail runner almost scared the crap out of me when he passed as I was getting ready to swing around.  When you're working, hot, tired, and getting sprayed with rocks, poison ivy, briars, etc, and you're covered with hard hats, face masks, safety glasses, ear muffs, etc. you just don't hear people coming up behind you silently.  We want all our trail users to have a good time and return home with the same number of legs and parts that they set out with, so please, get our attention before you try to pass someone working on the trails with power tools.  For our sake and yours.

Shayann and Mike screwed down all the decking on the boardwalk after they made repairs.  Thanks to Betsey, Val, Grahamn, Mike, Sayann, Bella, Rachael, Jim, Mark, and Terry for all the hot work.  It really helps when there's a decent turn out.  The RecPath thru the Land Trust Meadow at Lane Street is one of Shelton's hidden wonders, and well worth the visit if you've never been there.

 At the end of the work party you turn off the equipment, pull off the ear muffs, listen to the birds and look around.  It's really a nice corner of Connecticut when you stop to enjoy it.  Now, what was that song that was going thru my head at the end?