Monday, March 10, 2014

Update on Babcock Ridge Acquisition

By Beth Sullivan
Some things slow down during the winter, but behind the scenes a number of individuals have continued their effort to complete the fund- raising for the acquisition of Babcock Ridge in North Stonington. Our June 30 deadline is approaching quickly.
Even walking this land in the winter, during the quiet season, it is obvious what a gem this piece of land is. We wrote about it here last September. Through the late summer and fall there were guided walks through the preserve to explore and understand the habitats we aim to protect. The vernal pond is deeply frozen still, but over the last weeks, as the sun has gotten stronger, there have been moments of melting. By the end of this month ( we have to believe it will get warmer) the little pond will have thawed, the ice will have loosened its grip on the earth, soft evergreen sphagnum moss will welcome the Spotted Salamanders, Wood frogs and Spring Peepers will be drawn to the water for egg laying.
A sign of the coming thaw.

This vernal pool is still frozen but will soon be bursting with life.

Sphagnum moss covers portions of the wooded wetlands.

Through the winter, hikers have walked the trail and moved through the woods, exploring, to understand the rugged land. We have discovered Pileated Woodpeckers high on the ridge. They require large tracts of large trees, as their nest holes need to be really big to accommodate their crow sized bodies. The photo illustrates the unique almost rectangular shape of their nest holes which can be 6 to 9 inches in length. If you look on the ground near where a Pileated woodpecker has been working, the wood chips and shards are impressive-several inches long!
Pileated Woodpecker hard at work.

Wood chips from a Pileated Woodpecker's excavation

These rectangular openings are characteristic of the Pileated Woodpecker.
While the snow was on the trails we found deer prints, among others, using the same paths we did. We noticed mammal prints traveling along below the rocky ledges, leading to caves and dens.
Deer follow the same trails as the hikers.

As of this writing we have only $65,000 left to reach our goal. To this point we have received extremely generous donations from members and individuals. Dog Watch Café assisted with a great, fun, fund raiser bringing in $600. Some grants have been approved and added to our tally. Several more grants are outstanding, and we will hear about them in the next couple of months. We still need your help.

Our fund raising is entering its next phase. We are reaching out to corporations and businesses in the area asking them to Invest in North Stonington’s Future with Babcock Ridge with this message from Avalonia: Indeed it is in everyone’s economic interest to protect what is special about the place we call “home.” As the rate of growth increases in our area, it becomes ever more important as “value investors” to entrust our town’s natural and farm lands preservation, as well as historic sites protection, to an organization that helps guide and balance both growth and preservation activities in our county – “to protect what needs to be protected and build what needs to be built.”

The next scheduled walks on the preserve come up soon:
  • Wednesday, March 26 at 6:30 pm: to look for amphibians at the vernal pool.
  • Saturday, April 12 at 10:00 am
  • Saturday, April 26 at 10:00 am
Please plan on joining us for a walk. See first-hand why this is so important in the grand scheme of things. See our earlier post for location information. If you have donated already, we thank you sincerely, and invite you to join us on a walk to explore this area you have invested in. Even after the bone chilling winter, there is still much to see and appreciate and preserve.

All Photographs Copyright 2014 Bruce Fellman

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