The View from Above: Aerial Monitoring Technology for Land Trusts

Did you know that accredited land trusts monitor every property they protect every year? It is an essential part of fulfilling our mission to protect land in perpetuity. One of the most exciting advancements in land stewardship is the emergence of digital, aerial monitoring as a viable inspection option. This technology allows NCLC, and our partner land trusts, to be more efficient and resilient and provides our staff with more time to work on other mission-related programs.

We are excited to announce that the Land Trust Alliance awarded NCLC $13,800 to establish a pilot program to train our partner land trusts to use a program called  LENS for aerial monitoring, outreach to landowners, as well as for tracking potential violations or enforcement issues. The program is open to every land trust in NCLC’s service area, and we appreciate the partnership with HVA Greenprint Collaborative on this project.

Participating land trusts will receive unlimited use of LENS for the 2021 calendar year, plus NCLC staff support as they begin their aerial inspection programs.  If land trusts chose not to use LENS themselves, NCLC can complete their monitoring for them on a fee-for-service basis.

Earth Day Roadside Clean-Up

Earth Day Roadside Clean-Up

Join members of the Naromi Council of Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy in sprucing up the roadsides and trailheads of Sherman preserves.

Let’s continue the tradition of adopting a trailhead and section of roadside to clean.  It is a great way to celebrate Earth Day and beautify your community.  Please call (860-927-1927) or email info@ctland.org to let us know where you plan to go or let us assign you.  That way we can be sure all the preserves benefit.  Recruit a friend or family member – the job goes faster with helpers.

Large trash bags will be available at the Sherman Town Hall in the days before the 24th, or, on the 24th they can be picked up at the town hall parking lot.  Not sure you’ll be available that morning?  Do your clean-up on days before the 24th and then bring the trash to the Mallory Town Hall lower parking lot on the 24th.  The trash from town roads should be taken to the dumpster at the Mallory Town Hall lower parking lot.  But garbage along the state roads (Routes 55, 39, and 37) should be left in the trash bags on those roadsides.  The DOT will pick up those bags on April 26th.  Please wear bright clothing or ask for a vest from Town Hall so that you will be easily visible to traffic.  And remember to wear gloves; thin plastic under heavy gloves are the most protective for picking up glass, cans, and unsavory items.

Closer to the 24th Sherman residents will receive more details about other clean-up options that day for e-waste, bulky waste, scrap metal, and returnable bottles/cans (no hazardous waste that day).  Call Ruth at the Sherman First Selectman’s office – 860-355-1129 or send an email to rbyrnes@townofshermanct.org with any questions specific to those options.

Preserves in Sherman that need most clean up:

Clean-ups in other towns

KentKent Conservation Commission is organizing roadside cleanup efforts from April 11 through April 25. Call the Town Clerk at 860-927-3433 if you would like to help.

Sharon – Sharon Energy and Environment Commission are meeting (from a safe distance) on Saturday, April 17 at 10:00 AM in front of the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon (masks required). They will provide routes, safety vests, latex gloves, and garbage bags but ask that if you already own a safety vest to please bring that (Rain date, April 18).

Warren – Warren Townwide Clean Up, organized by the Warren Land Trust and Warren Parks and Rec. April 24 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Meet at the Warren General Store to get garbage bags and rubber gloves.  You select the stretch of road to clean. There will be a dumpster at the Warren Town Garage for the trash collected.

 

Connecticut’s Black Bears: Recording

On March 18, 2021 NCLC welcomed CT DEEP Master Wildlife Conservationist Paul Colburn for an online presentation on black bears.  This excellent presentation is wonderful for anyone curious about how we can optimally co-exist with these animals.  Paul encourages everyone who learns something from his talks to share it with five more people.  If you see a bear, please report it to DEEP. This data helps our state’s scientists understand the bear population.

https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Report-a-Wildlife-Sighting

March e-news: The Impact Report is Here! Plus, Trail Camera Updates and Events for You

March’s lingering cold weather will soon give way to the warmer days of spring. This year especially, I am eager for the return to warm weather and more time spent outside on the trails.
This month, all of us at NCLC are pleased to share our most recent Impact Report, which is available on our website. From our mergers with Brookfield Open Space Legacy and Naromi Land Trust to land acquisitions that affect the future of our region and people, this Impact Report is a testament to the good work that you make possible.

Iron Mountain Conservation Partnership with Kent Land Trust

On January 6, 2021, The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut transferred ownership of the 300+ acre Iron Mountain Preserve to the Kent Land Trust. NCLC will support the permanent conservation of these lands by holding a conservation easement on the property. Preserve’s quiet wooded landscape is a popular destination for hikers on its “lollipop loop” trail, just under 3 miles roundtrip. It was created in 1974 and 1981 by the donation of 257 acres by Mrs. Walter E. Irving. Mrs. Irving’s neighbors Brigitta Lieberson, Joseph Gitterman, and Vilma Kurzer followed her lead with additional gifts in 1983, 1984, 1987, and 1991.

The Preserve is a key part of the scenic vista which caused the Town of Kent to name Geer Mountain Panorama as one of Kent’s 23 Town Character Areas. The blue-blazed hiking trail emanates from the parking area on Treasure Hill Road and then splits into a loop that circumnavigates the Ore Hill summit. Signs of past human occupation include stone walls, charcoal mounds, wire fencing, three old foundations, a former orchard, and several old wood roads. Patches of locally-important farm soils connect back to its agricultural use after being denuded of trees used to produce charcoal for Kent’s iron industry. Many charcoal mounds remain, some clearly visible from the trail. In addition to providing a wonderful recreational resource for the Kent community, the Preserve is an important area for wildlife: Part of an 890-acre core forest block interlaced with several stream courses, it is home to bobcat, bear, coyotes, deer, owls, and many other native species.

2020 Land Acquisitions

In addition to the permanent protection of Maple Bank Farm in Roxbury, NCLC completed four additional conservation projects, protecting a total of 350 acres in 2020.  Land conservation is about the relationships and connections that we have with the land. NCLC is grateful to the people who made these projects possible.

Nickoll Preserve, Salisbury, 109 acres

Longtime NCLC supporters Chrissy Armstrong and Ben Nickoll donated 109 acres of forested land that expands the protected area in the Moore Brook corridor of Salisbury. This new preserve lies adjacent to 233 acres of land previously protected by The Nature Conservancy. Moore Brook is a class A stream and a State-designated Critical Habitat Area, home to rare species of plants and animals. The underlying geology creates rich soils and a diverse and unique community of plants and animals thrive in these calcium-rich (“calcareous”) groundwater seeps and soils. NCLC thanks Chrissy and Ben for protecting this special place for future generations.

Peterson Easement, New Milford, 16 Acres
Guy Peterson’s donation of this conservation easement is in honor of his late wife Mary Jane. Guy is a former board president of NCLC and this easement is adjacent to other lands that he was instrumental in protecting. This parcel expands the protected land around Bear Hill, New Milford’s highest point, and the location of CT DEEP’s bobcat population study. His gift improves the connectivity of Northern New Milford’s conserved lands and protects a long stretch of Denman Brook, a tributary to the West Aspetuck River, a class AA waterway. Guy is a true conservation leader in Northwest Connecticut. We are grateful for the legacy of conservation that he has made possible.
Osborn Conservation Easement, Salisbury, 54 acres
Brothers Nic and Eliot Osborn protected about 54 acres of sensitive wetlands, uplands, and roadside farm fields. This easement will connect to conserved land, including extensive endangered reptile habitat protected by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) north of the Osborn lands in Massachusetts. The TNC land is one of the most important sites for endangered reptiles in the Northeast. The Osborn easement expands the wildlife corridor that animals rely on for migration across state lines. Thank you Nic and Eliot for creating connections between critical habitats.
Stoney Batter Pond, West Cornwall, 125 acres
Hamilton South IV and Manuel Bellod’s Stony Batter Farm conservation easement is an important addition to a swath of protected lands in the Housatonic River corridor. Protecting forested lands limits soil erosion and runoff that can carry pollution to water. This easement also enhances a wildlife corridor connection between state lands, including Wyantenock State Forest, NCLC protected lands, and conservation easements held by Warren Land Trust and Cornwall Conservation Trust. We are grateful to Hamilton and Manuel for their long-term commitment to conservation.

Get Outside This Weekend: Four Winter Hikes to Try

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing!  The following preserve parking lots have been cleared so that you can get outside this weekend and enjoy the winter wonderland.

Hauser Preserve – 100 Fern Ave, Litchfield, 06759: Open field for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.  Trails are not groomed.  Trail for snowshoeing.

Birch Rocks Pratt Glen –   40A Obtuse Road North, Brookfield, 06804: Woodland snowshoeing to Lake Lillinonah.

Mallory Preserve — 9 CT-39, Sherman, CT 06784.  Woodland snowshoeing along the trails.

Smyrski Farm* – 237 Merryall Road, New Milford, 06776, Park on the North side of the red barn.  Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.  Trails are not groomed.

*Smyrski Farm is a working farm and only open for public recreation under special conditions.  Don’t miss this change to explore this beautiful farm!

As always, practice safe hiking by dressing warmly, packing water and a snack, and telling someone where you’re going.

Please send us photos of your trip at info@ctland.org or tag us on social media @nwctconservancy!

Thank you to Nick Pouder of Mayapple Hill Farm for clearing a parking at Smyrski, Rick Plumb for plowing Hauser, and Brookfield Parks and Recreation for plowing at Birch Rocks Pratt Glen!

Americorps Comes to Northwest Connecticut

Earlier this month Americorps Team River 4 joined NCLC staff for two days of work at our Kahn Preserve in New Milford and our Cobble Brook Vista Preserve in Kent. At the Kahn Preserve, the Americorps team and NCLC carried in lumber and tools about a mile into the preserve to build bog bridges, cleared brush on the trail, repaired erosion damage, and improved a culvert. These new bog bridges will help keep hikers’ feet dry and reduce trail erosion and “braiding” from hikers trying to find alternate routes around streams and low spots. At Cobble Brook Vista, the team cleared trees that fell during the summer and fall storms on the Orange trail to the Outlook.

Tree, Baylee, and Sophia are from California, Oklahoma and Washington DC, respectively. This was their first visit to New England, and although working during the greatest public health crisis of our time has been challenging, they have been enjoying seeing a new part of the country and working in service of organizations like NCLC and our partner land trusts.

We are truly thankful for these extraordinary young people who signed up for service in such a difficult year, and to the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative for bringing them to Northwest CT!