Monday, July 24, 2017

The Invaders Among Us!

By Beth Sullivan
This has been a spectacular year for plants. The wet spring encouraged lush, vigorous growth. It would seem that all things are rejoicing at the end of the drought and adding life giving extra foliage to every branch and stem. We are also learning that most plants benefit from the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which also encourages plants to photosynthesize more, adding more growth. I guess that is a good way to try and balance the CO2. However, we are also being told that vines, in particular, seem to respond most robustly to these growing conditions. Sadly, it appears that the non-natives are more efficient even still. It seems that right in front of our eyes, no time lapse needed, invasive vines are beginning to dominate: the woods, the trails, structures, native plants, and even each other. One native also enjoying the growth spurt is Poison Ivy, which seems to be the happiest of growers. It seems to be thriving better, growing larger and also seems to be more irritating.
Poison Ivy is a native that is behaving aggressively under ideal growing conditions.

Take a walk on one of several of our most beloved preserves, the ones with variable habitats, with fields, and open sunny patches along the trails and beautiful stone walls. These offer the most extensive look at how the invasives have altered the landscape. The Knox Preserve is a best (or worst) case example.
Walking down the trails along the field, and into the shrub land area, and along the shore, the variety of invasives is educational and daunting. Vines can be woody and persistent, growing bigger each year, such as Oriental Bittersweet which can entangle and strangle, and the monster Porcelain Berry that covers and smothers entire trees.
Oriental Bittersweet vines twist their way up and then strangle the supporting tree.
Porcelain Berry is a beauty of a beast that will cover and smother entire trees and walls.

Another invasive vine that has become a true problem for us is Black Swallowwort. The vines are delicate in appearance; they do not survive the winter. But underground their roots form a very dense, impenetrable mass. They are impossible to pull out successfully, and once established they form huge colonies, and other plants cannot get a foothold into the ground where the roots take over everything. The pods, which are visible now, look like slim, hanging milkweed pods. It is the similarity to milkweed that makes this plant especially loathsome. Monarch butterflies are somehow attracted to this plant and will deposit their eggs on the leaves. However their caterpillars cannot survive on them. Monarchs are having enough trouble in their life-cycles; they don’t need an added villain decimating their numbers.
If you find Swallowwort, at least remove the pods to prevent seeding

Other invasives are woody shrubs, like Multiflora Rose, Winged Euonymus (Burning bush), Japanese Barberry and Honeysuckle, or small trees like Glossy Buckthorn and Autumn Olive. Each of these plants might seem to offer some positives for wildlife: Multiflora Rose provides nesting places and habitat. Honeysuckle and Buckthorn offer appealing berries. Once again, there are hidden dangers. Birds rely on native berries for their nutrients for all aspects of growth and development. In a recent study, it was found that birds who took a greater proportion of their diet from non-native berries may get filled up, but the nutrients are not adequate to fill their essential needs-like “fast food” for birds. Birds that ate too many Honeysuckle berries had poorer feather development, poorer colors, and those colors act as attractants to females, as indicators of good health and vigor.
These are just a few. There is Japanese Knot weed, Spotted Knapweed, Mugwort and large Thistles. There are invasive grasses like Japanese Stilt Grass and Reed Canary Grass that take over and ruin grassland habitats. And there are flowers that have been planted in our gardens, like Lesser Celandine and Garlic Mustard, that have now run rampant, excluding other plants with the strength of their growth and even harmful chemistry. The list is, sadly, way too long.
Check out the CT Invasive Plant Working Group web site here.  The working group is a consortium of individuals, organizations, and agencies concerned with invasive plant issues. The website is quite an education. Their plant list is here.
Take some time to look around your yard and woodlot. This is the time now to identify them most easily. Then pull, cut, treat and remove as many as you can before they spread. Don’t let those berries be eaten; don’t let the seeds blow. Dispose of plants in your trash, and do not put into yard waste containers that will be sent to compost.
We have introduced these plants to our native habitats. They threaten native plants and are detrimental to native pollinators, birds, and other animals. I believe it is our responsibility to try and control them the best we can.

 Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Another Great Year for Purple Martins at Knox Preserve

By Beth Sullivan
Those of you who have read this blog for a while have come to expect a Martin update around this time of year. I have shared my journey and passion ( maybe obsession) with these birds for several years now, since our first grant award in 2013 from Audubon Connecticut, to start our colony.
Purple Martins are the only species of bird that is completely reliant on humans for their survival. We provide adequate nesting sites which are hollows, in a colonial setting. We just don’t have enough empty tree holes in close enough proximity to satisfy the needs of dozens of pairs of these birds. Since pre-colonial days, Native Americans provided natural gourds for Purple Martins. Now there is an entire industry built around attracting and providing for colonies of these birds, and the effort has brought the species back from the brink of being extirpated from many areas.
Perfect habitat for Purple Martins can be found at Knox Preserve.

The Knox Preserve colony

At Knox Preserve we provide two set ups, totaling 24 gourds. A close neighbor has a classic Martin House also hosting 12 pairs. Since the end of April, when we set up the housing, we monitor it. Early scouts come to check out the area. Mature birds come first, usually males, to stake out their spots from previous years. If they have a successful breeding experience in a location, they will be very loyal to their site. Females join them, and then younger birds, the hatchlings from the previous year, return later. They often find no room at the inn, so they are likely to fly farther looking for new colonies and vacancies.
As Martin landlords, we have teamed up with the DEEP to band these birds each year for the last four, in order to be able to identify and study them as they move between nesting grounds and wintering grounds in South America. By fitting them with an aluminum band with a unique number, much like our Social Security number, these birds are identifiable as specific individuals. That number is often difficult to discern, however, color banding is a way to visually mark these birds so they can be easily traced to a particular colony. Each colony in CT has a unique color combination: Ours at Knox is Orange/Green. Nearby Pequot Golf Course is Orange/Blue. It has been very easy to see when our populations intermingle, which is great.
The banding team weighs, ages, and assesses health, as well as placing the bands.

Showing off its new bands, this little one goes back into the nest.

On a blazing hot, humid day last week, the DEEP team arrived at Knox Preserve, efficiently set up their work station under a tent, and got to work. It was our job as landlords to get the birds out of their nests and delivered to the table for processing. It is a very precise practice using Coolwhip containers with little handmade liners for transport. Each individual was weighed and observed carefully for development in order to assess age and overall health. Our Colony had birds that were as old as 19 days, yet we had one nest that was only hatching that day - way too little to band.
A beautiful, typical nest.

These are day-old hatchlings.

The birds were fitted with bands and all data recorded accurately to be later added to a full database for all colonies. Each little one needed to remain with its nest-mates and returned to its exact nests in an appropriately marked Coolwhip container. The parents waited patiently, often with an insect in their mouths, ready to fill a hungry mouth on return.
These are about a week old.

Several of us had done this process a number of times, yet it never ceases to be amazing. This year we had several new observers, including a two year old who was able to peek inside the nest and see the babies and even touch one. Other volunteers were able to participate in the banding process. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how often we do this, it is always so awe-inspiring.
It takes a lot of work, to prepare nests and monitor them frequently, to collect data even before the banding day. Cleaning out the gourds at the end of the season is really an awful job. But getting to see my babies fledge and fly off to the nearby trees makes it worthwhile.
They get little feathers before they are two weeks old.

It is even better to spot one with Orange/Green color bands , coming back to the colony it where it was born, and calling it home again.

Photographs by Kent Fuller, Beth Chapin, Jim Sullivan, and Beth Sullivan.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Horseshoe crab season 2017

By Beth Sullivan
There are some things you can rely on, events that happen at a certain time, under certain conditions, every single year. Some for hundreds or thousands and even millions of years.
One such occurrence is the arrival of the Horseshoe crabs along the sandy shores here, in the places we humans now call home. For millions of years, these ancient species have been pulled by the tides and phases of the moon, to seek mates and find their way to the safe coastal areas for spawning.
Certainly the shoreline has changed over that time. Sandy beaches have eroded, disappeared, and reappeared in new areas. Barrier beaches have been washed away, and islands have moved, literally. And new islands and sandbars have appeared in shallows along the edge of the sea. But what has not changed is the cycling of the moon, its constant pulling on the waters of the Earth, and the effect it has on the Horseshoe crabs which, as a species, has remained almost unchanged for many millions of years.
Gently sloping beaches and low surf areas are ideal for Horseshoe Crab nests.

Sandy Point has drifted over centuries, but continues to offer sanding nesting areas for Horseshoe Crabs

So, when we head out to Sandy Point and other local beaches to find and tag the Horseshoe crabs, we always anticipate that some things will not have changed.

Unusual year

This year was just an odd year for lots of reasons. The weather did not cooperate around the times of the full moon and new moon in May. Those are the times when the tides are most extreme and best for nesting crabs. It is not just that we humans don’t like going out in windy wet weather, but the crabs do not like it either. They do not like to come ashore when the surf is rough. A lot of freshwater-rain runoff into their favored nesting sites will also keep them away. So May really was a wash-out. I don’t know where they went, but they were not at all the places I expected them to be.
Too much surf can flip a crab or pair of crabs and expose them to predation.

The early full moon in June really wasn’t much better for conditions, but we paddled out to Sandy Point and cruised along the shore. In past years, the north side of the island would have been the most desirable stretch of sandy beach for nesting. We found a few pairs along that north shore, and a few more down toward the extreme eastern tip. But it was discouraging. We tagged about 15 that night, certainly not close to the dozens or hundreds of only a few years ago.
Each crab is assessed for size, condition, and gender. The tags are placed with a peg, into their shell, the carapace, in an area that will not impede their functioning. We make notations about certain physical characteristics including injuries or damage to shell, and also note all the “baggage” they carry: hitch-hikers that are mollusks of varying species and seaweeds. The tags bear a number that can then be tracked when they are recovered at a later date. When we look for crabs, we always note the “recaptures” and document their condition and tag number. It reveals interesting data.
Finding an old tag helps provide data on longevity and and travel patterns.

Once more we tried with the new moon phase at the end of June. Technically this should be the real high point. We have, in the past, counted over 1000 crabs jostling for space in the sand, jostling for mates, and jostling off competitors. But not this year.

End of June excitement

Three of us paddled out to the island. A bit of a wind and rolling waves made it interesting, but on the north side it was calm and quiet. We got caught in a sudden downpour but were rewarded by a spectacular rainbow and beautiful sunset. We noted more pairs of crabs, making their way to shore. Large females followed closely by their smaller mates.
The crabs often carry a lot of marine baggage. 
Tagged crabs are inspected closely for damage and condition. 

We were only allotted 50 tags for the whole season out on Sandy Point, and we used them up by the time we got to the eastern tip. And then the action started. Around the tip and out to the south side where the surf was a little rougher, we began to count more and more crabs. Singles, pairs, triples and even a few quads-one female with multiple males. We found several with older tags, and later investigation showed that some of them had been tagged more than three years ago, a couple right there on the island.
As we walked we counted: more than 100 more crabs, all participating in that ancient ritual, on that particular night. It was a far cry from that year of more than 1000. Something has changed. But for a smaller population, the moon still pulls them to this island. And something pulls us out to share in that ritual.
The adventure provides rainbows, sunsets and moon rise views.

Whatever pulls the crabs to Sandy Point, pulls us as well.

Photographs by Mike Charnetski, Rick Newton, and Beth Sullivan.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Celebrate the Fourth of July!

By Beth Sullivan
Explore and celebrate all our beautiful area has to offer us. Take some time on this holiday to search out things that make you smile, and things that make your heart sing with the freedoms we have. We are so blessed to be graced with plenty of RED, WHITE and BLUE.
RED capped mushrooms at Hoffman Preserve.

RED Trillium in rich woodland.

RED Maple flowers at Henne Preserve like fireworks.
WHITE blossoms of the Native Rhododendron at Avery Preserve.

WHITE Mountain Laurel at Paffard Woods Preserve.

WHITE Purple Martin eggs at Knox Preserve.
BLUE Fringed Gentian along a wet meadow trail.

Great BLUE Herons at Henne Preserve.

And with a little imagination RED, WHITE, and Blue.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Are you ready for Summer fun?

By Beth Sullivan
We have passed the Solstice. The kids are out of school. For some families it will mean camps, vacations away and planned activities. For some it will mean a lot of home time and opportunities to plan things together as families. The days are longer, there are places to explore, the great outdoors beckons. But sometimes the kids (or parents) just don’t want to let go of their phones. Sometimes kids need a bigger incentive. Sometimes parents need a little help. Sometimes all you need is a good place to start, and you can take those phones with you!
Low tide at Knox Preserve reveals a lot of fun treasures.

Welcome to Hike and Seek

We have been working on this project for a couple of years. Different than every other summer scavenger hunt, this one will keep interest all year round and for many years. It is not a contest.  Educators love it. We also do not have a big budget to do advertising, so it is spreading by word of mouth, presentations and website links. 
From the Avalonia home page follow the links to adventure.

We know that kids in school have had fewer opportunities for field trips as budgets get cut. Now, more than ever, it is so important for us to teach our children the importance of our natural world: habitats, the web of life, how we are all inter-related, and how our every action can have a significant impact on other parts of our world. Kids need to develop curiosity. From there respect will grow and a desire to learn more. That is how new stewards of the land are made.
Hiking with children can give them a greater sense of self confidence and a willingness to explore.

Avalonia Land Conservancy owns and stewards close to 4000 acres in Southeastern CT. Many properties are trailed, open to the public, and just waiting to be explored. For many years I was lucky to be involved with environmental education for kids in this area doing school programs and field trips. I got to witness the excitement and awe as school-age kids walked in woods, stood at a pond side, touched something “scary” or learned a really cool new fact about something outdoors. It was wonderful.
A group from Pine Point School found the big erratic boulder at Paffard Woods.

I also came to realize that not all parents or group leaders are totally comfortable trying to understand or teach this kind of information. They needed some help. A trip leader or naturalist is not always available when you need them. But with Hike and Seek, we hope to offer some insight into those special things you will encounter along the trails, and give parents, leaders and older school kids an opportunity to use their phones and media to enhance their excursions.
Journaling and recording your reflections can be a great follow up to a Hike and Seek learning adventure.

Information on-line

Please take some time to look at the project on-line here.  It has expanded since last summer when we were experimenting with the concept. It will continue to grow as Avalonia grows and offers more places for our members and friends to hike. The local libraries are embracing the program, as is the Stonington COMO.
Find a preserve you want to explore and get out at any time of the year.

If your group would like a presentation, introduction, or materials about Hike and Seek, please contact the Avalonia office or use the Hike and Seek email:  We will be looking forward to your posts on Instagram or Facebook or via email. We will post the photos you send to the Hike and Seek email address.
But mostly we want you all to get out and enjoy the lovely land we have preserved together. Why hide it? Share it!

Photographs by Avalonia friends.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Come to the Annual Members’ Meeting

Each year Avalonia has an annual Members’ meeting, a time to come together, to share accomplishments of the past and goals for the future.
This past year has been a year of growth, like teenage years. We got our “Driver’s License”: Accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA). A huge milestone. We learned the rules of the road. Now we are mapping out our route to conservation acquisitions and preservation.
We are also entering our Fiftieth Year. Another huge milestone. As we celebrate, we are also growing in other ways. We worked with a legal guide to help us amend bylaws to conform to LTA Standards that will work best for the organization we are becoming. One of the changes is to increase the number of Directors we have which will greatly increase our diversity and talents in all areas. Another change was to create overlapping Director terms for continuity and succession planning. As due process was followed, we have found ourselves with some returning “old faces”, friends coming back to re-join the “new Avalonia”. We also are welcoming some very new faces, people who are now seeing the emergence of a well-run organization, ready to step up to take its place as a modern land trust. To get a little more insight into our new Board of Directors, please visit “Our Team” on our website here.

 We will be updating the site after the elections at the Annual Members’ meeting where you will have a chance to meet most of them in person.
Another new person to welcome is our new Director of Development and Programs, Chuck Toal. His focus will be on growing the organization both through memberships and fundraising. There are a lot of positive changes to celebrate.
Chuck Toal

So on June 22, please join the Avalonia team to celebrate these changes. The Annual Meeting will be held at Avery Point, the Project O building, room 243, at 6pm. (details and directions on our website). There will be a brief business meeting to introduce the directors to the membership prior to the vote. It will be followed by a speaker, Jeff Cordulack, the Executive Director of Northeast Organic Farming Association. His topic will be organic gardening and composting techniques.
We all want bountiful vegetable gardens, so learn how to help with composting.
Light refreshments will be served, and members and friends will have the opportunity to talk with the Avalonia leadership, ask questions and get a sense of where the next 50 years will take us.
I look forward to seeing you there.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Sandy Point in Summer

By Beth Sullivan

Kids are almost out of school. Finally, the weather has given us a hint of the summer to come. For the wildlife at Sandy Point-the birds and Horseshoe Crabs (and USFWS) the summer season began a while ago. More than a month ago the shorebirds arrived, and already the American Oystercatchers have established nests and some have already hatched young. On a recent trip out, we saw a number of Piping Plovers, Oystercatchers, some Least Terns, and a really cool Black Skimmer cruising the shoreline.

Horseshoe Crabs return

The full moon in May also signaled the real beginning of the Horseshoe Crab migration to the island for nesting; a trek that has gone on for thousands if not millions, of years. Avalonia stewards were thwarted by weather conditions and other circumstances, so our first trip out was in June. On our kayak excursions out to the island, we count and tag the returning crabs. Later we will paddle out to look for the nests, hatching young, and juvenile crabs that take refuge in the calm waters on the north side of the island.
Sandy Point, a truly spectacular gem to be protected and appreciated.

Enjoy the island but please remember that we need to share the beach.

Dogs are not allowed on the island at all. Please leave them home.

As we have reported over the last years, Avalonia Land Conservancy has entered into a very supportive relationship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the island. It had become impossible to juggle the needs of the wildlife that needs the special habitat to survive, and the wishes of the island-loving public that has enjoyed the island’s sandy shores and inviting waters for generations.
The Service provides wildlife biologists as experienced stewards who will study the protected species, will note where they nest, and provide protection for them. They will also be available to educate the public, answer questions and explain the rules. An informed visitor is far more likely to be compliant and actually help with the effort to preserve and protect the place we all love. The Service will also have the ability to see that the rules are followed.
A major concern is dogs on the island. As much as we all love our beach buddies, dogs are seen as predators, and dogs are forbidden from the entire island, at all times, even on leash. Please observe this regulation.

Sandy Point summer beach passes

All of this effort comes at a cost and, as in the past, there will be a fee for usage of Sandy Point, which will help offset this expense. The USFWS has developed a fee scale that is very fair and is actually less expensive than in past years. Also, they have decided to continue the relationship with the Stonington COMO to assist with the management of the process and procedures to obtain passes and their distribution. You can go directly to the COMO if you choose, or very easily go to the COMO website and link to Summer Beach Passes. A direct link to purchase passes is here
The Horseshoe Crabs have returned to nest.

US Fish and Wildlife Service will educate the public and protect the wildlife.

When you are done for the day, please pick up your litter. It can be deadly for birds and other wildlife.

It will be important to keep the pass with you and a personal ID while visiting the island, as stewards will check for them. They will be required from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
It truly is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the beautiful island beaches and waters, but also know that your purchase actually goes to support the stewardship of the island to protect and preserve it for all who visit or call it home.
We will keep you posted on the seasonal changes out there. In the meantime, get your passes and enjoy the early summer pleasures of Avalonia’s gem: Sandy Point Island.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Project Update: Bring on the Bunnies at Peck Preserve

By Beth Sullivan
Back in 2012 we faced a big challenge-do we practice active management on one of our preserves when it entailed cutting trees and creating what would be seen, by some, as a giant mess? Did it align with our mission? It was supported by all the major wildlife organizations, but would it be supported by those who love trees?
You can read the details of our decision and the process in earlier blogs here, here, and here.
The goal was to create young forest areas which would support numerous species that are in decline because of decreased habitat necessary for their survival. The only way to create young forest is to remove the old and unproductive, over-mature forest that had ceased being supportive of a wide variety of species and then wait while the new growth becomes established and inviting to these species.
It took months of assessments and preparations, volumes of paperwork, permits and plans. We were convinced and supported, and we were ready, but when the first trees fell, it was still heart wrenching. As those first months passed and we saw the extent of the work, it was hard at first to feel confident we had done the right thing. We watched. We monitored. We documented. We waited.
Before- an uninviting woodland with no understory protection.

Immediately after- it looked like a depressing mess.

Now-the area is deep and thick with protective cover.

Fast forward to now

This past week we took a little walk through a neighbor’s trail that leads out to the power line that connects to our Avalonia Peck Preserve. We hadn’t been out there since last fall. We had been concerned because the Eversource Power Company had gone all up and down the power line and really changed the habitat. Huge pads were created with fill and gravel and hardened at the base of the poles. The roadway was widened and also graveled and no plants could grow through. This was a real blow to our overall hope for the area as the powerline itself, with its (formerly) long uninterrupted corridor of low brush, was perfect habitat to allow migration of species to our new site-a welcome mat of sorts. Over the last year we had a lot of discussions with various members of the Power company team who did promise to do some remediation. We were not the only ones concerned about the habitat change along the lines.
Our first view of the power line was a little upsetting still. Bushes were gone around the poles and the pads were still bare of any vegetation. But we did notice that topsoil had been added and seeds spread. So now it looks like we wait yet again to see growth that will provide cover and protection for those species using the area. Sadly, the disturbance of soils and addition of new soil introduced and spread non-native and invasive plants to the area. They will require treatment to control.
The hardened pads and gravel roads are uninviting.

But, here’s the good news-the project area on Avalonia land was almost unrecognizable from a couple of years ago. Of course there are only a few tall trees. Those that remain were left to be a seed bank and provide some needed perches and habitat. The rest of the area has grown into a very dense shrub area that is generally impenetrable for humans. It is exactly what we were hoping for, and exactly what the New England Cottontail and others require. As we walked, we were listening for the bird species we hoped would be using the area. We heard Blue Winged Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Prairie Warbler, all new to the area. They had noticed the welcome mat! There were also a number of other birds that had moved into the open areas and also moved back and forth to the wooded edges. A pair of Baltimore Orioles chased each other across the openings, Yellow Warbles and Common Yellow-throats called from low bushes. Bluebirds sang from all over. There were Eastern Pewees, woodland birds, coming out to the open perches and zipping down to feast on the numerous insects that are now present. There were numerous butterflies, dragonflies, bees and flying insects in the air and tons of grasshoppers in the low growth.
Now there are areas covered with berry-bearing plants.

We will be doing breeding bird surveys at various locations in the project area.

Brush piles were over grown with protective native vines. There were swaths of low growth where Huckleberry and low-bush blueberry are now thriving in the sunlight. And they are loaded with berries.
I could go on and on. It was exciting to see the change, the healthy growth, abundant greenery and protective cover. It was heartening to see all the species.

No bunnies to be seen, yet

Of course we didn’t see any New England Cottontails. That’s the whole point. We wouldn’t see them. But through the summer we will be assessing breeding birds and looking for other species. Sometime in the fall we will do another stem count. And this winter, when conditions are right, we will go out and look for signs that the rabbits are present: we will collect their DNA in their pellets. Yes…it will be fun.
Thank you to all who supported this project and helped us keep the faith.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

Monday, May 29, 2017

From the President

We all enjoy the beauty of the Avalonia preserves-whether we hike them or read about them and enjoy the photographs. But once in a while we need to stop and reflect on what it takes to actually be an organization that makes this possible. Most of us would rather walk the trails than sit in meetings, surely I do. But the folks that are charged with the hard stuff are those that think about the governance, bylaws, and fundraising needs.

Please take some time to read the message from Dennis Main, our President, and look at the bylaws. I am sure many of you would be quite capable of working with and understanding these efforts. Maybe you would consider joining the team by becoming a member of a standing committee or ultimately working on the Board. So enjoy a few more views of what we all care about and think of how you can offer your support.


All creatures, great and small, appreciate your conservation efforts.

Young Barred Owls need woodland expanses. Photograph by Dennis Main.

Volunteers are the heart of our efforts.
From the President:

This update will not be nearly as exciting as one of Beth's usual blogs, and it certainly will be a challenge for her to choreograph with the splendid photography she provides weekly.

Dating back to before Avalonia received Land Trust Alliance (LTA) Accreditation, its Board of Directors (BOD) has been working on a number of initiatives, one of which was a periodic update of the By-Laws. This project was completed at the May 24, 2017 BOD meeting. The last major update had been March 26, 2014, and the current amendments rectify a number of shortcomings in that version.

The full bylaws document can be found here and on the About Us page of our web site.

Here are some highlights of the improvements as well as an addition to an earlier amendment to align the fiscal year with the calendar year:

• The BOD size has been enlarged to allow 8-15 members from the present 7-9 to bring more talent to the board.

• Director terms will become staggered (overlapping) three-year terms with 1/3 of the Directors elected each year (all Directors will be elected at the June 22 Annual Member meeting to terms of one, two, or three years that will start January 1, 2018.) This will provide ongoing continuity and succession planning.

• The Directors will elect their officers annually at their own annual meeting.

• Membership classes and rights as enumerated in the Avalonia Land Conservancy Certificate of Incorporation have been added to the By-Laws for clarification.

• The BOD Standing Committees have been updated to better reflect the current organization.

I would like to personally thank the Governance Committee for the numerous hours of drafting, reviewing and editing of the document, and the BOD for its extensive review and final approval of the current amended version. A debt of gratitude is also due our partners at Connecticut Land and Conservation Council OUNCIL for their ongoing review and advice. Their legal and administrative experience and assistance was invaluable in our LTA Accreditation success as well.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Annual meeting June 22.

Dennis Main

Beavers help create important habitat, and we protect it. 

Wetlands are a priority for preservation.
Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless otherwise indicated.