Monday, May 23, 2022

Pulling Invasive Plants at Pine Lake; It Don't Come Easy.

We had gotten reports that the entry to the Recreation Path at Pine Lake was getting choked down with plant growth and poison ivy.  This is one of the spots that we mow every year, usually in June, but this year it's in May.  There were a lot of invasive plants among the weeds, including Garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, Mugwort, and others.  Normally we cut these areas, but this year we tried pulling out some of the plants and bagging them for disposal elsewhere to see if that was a better method.

Ellen, Mike & Graham are bending over and pulling the whole Garlic mustard plant out by the roots and then bagging it prior to cutting.  That way the plant can't go to seed and create more Garlic mustard plants next year (we hope).  

For more on why Garlic mustard is so pernicious (a solid Scrabble word), and how to control it, visit the Univ. of Penn.'s Invasive Webpage here.  The plant sprouts a bazillion seeds earlier than everything else and takes over every square inch of disturbed bare soil.  Not a good plant.  But it's edible, so feel free to pick some, take it home, and cook it up.

Mike McGee is ripping up the Garlic Mustard.   He got the memo on wearing long sleeves near the poison ivy, but had shorts.  Hopefully he showered well later.  He was organizing a litter pick up later in the day.

Did I mention that the weather was freakishly pushing 90 degrees and high humidity while we were wearing long pants, long shirts, high boot, gloves and other containment gear while working in Poison Ivy?  It was wonderful.  It was hot and sweaty work.

Here's some of the Japanese knotweed that we pulled.  It rained Friday night so some of the plants actually were easy to pull up.  The trouble is that any root fragments left behind will re-sprout.  But if your don't try you never win.  So anything we pulled out now will be less junk to deal with later in the year.

Bill Dyer cut out the Wheeler Street Access Trail.  It comes out between the Senior Center and the Police Department, but it often looks like a jungle until we get around to it.  This year Bill got it early so it should be easier for people to find.

There was a bunch of Mugwort around the entrance to cut.  Hopefully this makes it more accessible to local residents accessing the trail off Wheeler Street.

While pulling out the weeds we had a lot of customers, walking, jogging, and biking past.  There seemed to be a lot of shaggy dogs taking their humans out for a walk before it got too hot.  Sometimes you were working quietly pulling weeds and when you look up you see some of the residents out using the trail.

Hello Deer.  

About 20 feet away this little buck in velvet was wondering what the heck I was up to on his trail.  

We had a nice little discussion about why doesn't he just eat the Garlic mustard, until he decided to amble off toward the Police Department.  You see a lot of interesting things when you're quiet along the trails.
So, we ripped up more invasives down toward Meadow Street.  We ran out of garbage bags to contain the junk and had to come back on Sunday.  The plants and seeds can't be just thrown off in the woods or they'll just re-sprout and you'll have an even worse problem.  So the roots and seeds have to go to a landfill or incinerator or some type of Black Hole to get rid of them.

A large number of bags were left at the trailhead on Saturday, with more on Sunday on Meadow St.  We contacted Shelton's Highway and Bridges Department to ask them to haul them away.

Once you get rid of the invasives you can start to see the native plants along our open spaces.  Here's a Jack in the Pulpit along the RecPath where it was covered by a carpet of Garlic Mustard.

Here's a Cinnamon fern under the pine trees that doesn't have to compete with knotweed any more.

And we even had birds nesting in the bird house a the trailhead kiosk.  It was a good, if hot and sweaty weekend.  Lot's of people using the RecPath with less invasives, a wider Path, and less poison ivy.

After.  It's not glamorous, but then maintenance never is.  Thanks to Graham, Bill, Mike, Ellen, Matt & Terry for coming out today.

Elsewhere, Teresa was working on Eklund Native Species Garden, and Mark and Bob were working on French's Hill.  People were busy all over the City this weekend fixing up trails in some hot and sticky weather.   Enjoy the week ahead.

Removing invasive species is a lot of tough work; It Don't Come Easy.   A song by a certain composer named Ringo (and his pal George) was going my head.  Or maybe it just trying to think of something  cooler.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Old Shelton Trail to Roosevelt Forest

Trail to Arthurs Court on
Stratford's new Roosevelt Forest map

The trail entrance is obscure, but decades of travel have kept the trail open. It begins at the Arthurs Court cul-de-sac in Shelton and ends in Roosevelt Forest.  Travelers head west through State property to an old lane running north-south. South is Roosevelt Forest, north is Route 8. The old lane seems to be a closed section of Beaver Dam Road that once continued to Armstrong Road, near Staples.

AllTrails shows the trail off Arthurs Court

The Shelton Trails Committee didn't know the trail existed, and there was no formal maintenance or marking over the years that we know of. Then the Town of Stratford published a new Roosevelt Forest map that showed the trail network extending all they way up to Arthurs Court in Shelton. Turned out this trail is also depicted on the various online maps such as AllTrails, Gaia, and OpenStreetMap. These maps are generated by the public and can be (and often are) in error. Still, it was interesting to see this trail in Shelton that we had never heard about shown on so many maps. 

Where did the trail come from? We asked our friends on Facebook about it, and a few said they had biked and even rode horses on the trail for decades. Lidar maps show the tread well-sunken into the ground. The old lane is shown on a Shelton map from 1867. 

Which brought up the fact that the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail originally went all the way from Monroe to Roosevelt in Stratford. CFPA decommissioned the trail south of Indian Well in the 1960s, but locals kept using segments of it. Could this be related? 

A 1946 map of the Paugussett Trail shows the trail following the old lane all the way from Roosevelt Forest to Armstrong Road in Shelton (Route 8 did not exist).  That section of the Paugussett was abandoned decades ago, but the old road and the access trail to Arthurs Court lived on in local knowledge. The image below is the 1946 trail map lined up with a current GIS/satellite image. 

1946 Paugussett Map overlay on satellite view
Blue line is the old Paugussett Trail

A Facebook post on the Shelton Trails group asking for info resulted in several people with old time knowledge of the trail as well as conflicting information about whether the public could park there and access the trail. After conferring with the Shelton Police Department, it was determined that it was legal to park on the road and head through the woods onto the trail so long as hikers do not stray onto private property. The City of Shelton does own a public right-of-way heading into the woods off the end of the cul-de-sac, all the way to the State of Connecticut property. The City GIS map below shows the trail in relation to property line. 

Property line map showing trail in red