Monday, November 23, 2015

A Time to Reflect

By Beth Sullivan
Things tend to slow a bit at this time of year, at least in the natural world where we, as stewards, spend our time. We take stock in projects completed, those still in progress, and begin to think about those next in line. It always amazes me how much effort and energy it takes to maintain and manage even just one town’s properties. And then I sit back and am so grateful for all of those who have helped achieve our goals.
Angles fly over and give us a unique view of the work at Dodge Paddock.
Photo by Roger Wolfe, DEEP. 

It takes a village

It is often quoted: “It takes a Village.” I find this is true especially in relation to our land conservancy efforts. There are so many aspects to our mission to preserve, conserve and protect land, and to educate and inspire others to join us. It takes a village of varied talents, and skills to make it work.
As Avalonia Land Conservancy moves toward the goal of Land Trust Alliance accreditation, we have to thank those who seem to be adept at reading rules, creating policies, establishing procedures, dotting the “I”s and crossing the “T”s. There are those who understand Governance and Finance-not something I do-so I am truly grateful someone else is willing! We thank those who know how to create websites, spreadsheets and keep the rest of us updated about the bigger world of conservation.
Building a bridge made the trail easier and safer to travel.

It is the stewardship and management part that I always need help with, and I am grateful for everyone who has stepped up to help get the requirements done. Every year, every property has to have its boundary walked and that means off the trails and into briers and swamps, to check for misuse or encroachment. We have to make sure our signs are present and visible. Some properties have miles of boundaries! Each preserve has unique management needs: Invasive control, trail maintenance, safety checks, mowing roadsides, wall clearing, and litter pick up, even communication with neighbors. So much to do. This year we are making sure every property has a comprehensive management plan, another stewardship chore.
Having the right equipment and helping hands makes all the difference.

Guardian Angles wanted

In some cases a preserve has a special Guardian Angel, or team of them. There are volunteer stewards who take it upon themselves to adopt a preserve and do what is needed. It may be as simple as walking the trails regularly to make sure they are unobstructed. It might be managing invasives or doing roadside cleanup. It may be that they have the equipment to help with mowing and brush control. The Knox Preserve is a much loved piece of land and in the last year has received a great deal of attention, study and even dedicated donations to help with restoration there. Thank you to all who love Knox.
Sometimes looking for drill holes in stone walls is like looking for a needle in a hay stack.

Some of our assistance has been professional. The efforts at Dodge Paddock/Beal Preserve have been ongoing since Superstorm Sandy. The CT DEEP has been instrumental and generous in removing invasive species, managing mosquitoes, securing funds, and materials, and providing labor to get the drainage issue finally, under control. With the efforts of the Aquarium staff overseeing the major LISFF Grant, restoration is really happening. Then there are the personal angels, those who have offered advice and funds to help us with plants and those neighbors who have turned on their hoses so we can work more efficiently when we plant them. We are grateful for all the local support.
The tree is thankful for being released from these vines.

We are thankful for everyone who has offered to help in any way. We are thankful for our members who recognize that their donations are essential to our work and success as an organization.
We appreciate all the research efforts that reveal data about our preserves.

I am grateful for those I have met when I am out on the preserves working, and who tell me THEY are thankful for what WE are doing.
We would be grateful if folks picked up after themselves, so our volunteers don't have to.

Remember: do NOT go shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Support those stores that are closed for the day and get out on a trail!!!
Happy Thanksgiving. Beth

Photographs by Beth Sullivan, unless otherwise indicated.

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