A Look Back at 2018:
We added to our network of trails with the official opening of the 38-acre Belknap Property in Weston, which features a series of hiking trails created by land trust staff and volunteers. Our blueberry patch grew by more than 40 bushes thanks to sponsors who donated them and volunteers who planted them. Meanwhile, Aspetuck Land Trust interns from Fairfield, Westport and Weston spruced up the Newman Poses Preserve in Westport with a new stone walkway and other improvements including a beautiful new preserve sign designed by Easton carpenter Dan Magner. The land trust also sponsored many guided educational hikes and held its Eco-camp for budding young scientists at the Caryl and Edna Haskins Preserve in Westport.
In 2018, we articulated a big bold vision for an 18,000-acre Green Corridor that will stretch through Fairfield, Westport, Weston, Easton, Wilton and Redding. A task force is hard at work to realize our vision. We have mapped out a corridor, reviewed open spaces and identified properties for protection, studied the wildlife on these properties and brainstormed about ways to engage homeowners to create more biodiversity on their own properties to contribute to the ecological health of the corridor. To this end, we are creating a model native landscape at our Caryl and Edna Haskins Preserve and hiring a half-time staff person in January to oversee our outreach and education efforts. We want to change the way people think about their yards. Learn more about our work with homeowners.
We’ve also learned more about the wildlife that make their homes in the land trust’s protected preserves. This summer, a series of trail cameras were installed to help with collection of data about local animal populations. Already, the cameras have captured more than a half-dozen species, including coyote, red fox, raccoon, turkey and white-tailed deer, along with bobcats, black bear and American mink. The Aspetuck Land Trust also has joined forces with the global community of citizen scientists through the iNaturalist app. You can now add your wildlife sightings to INaturalist when you hike in Trout Brook Valley or the Randall’s Farm Preserve. This helps us document and manage the property and is a great activity for kids!
We also created an exciting NEW Trout Brook Valley Trail Map App which you can use when you hike in our 1,009-acre Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area. We encourage all Trout Brook Valley hikers to use it. It allows you to geo-locate yourself wherever you are hiking in Trout Brook. No more paper trail maps, though those are still available at each trail head. Simply go to the App Store on your mobile phone and download the Avenza Maps app (available for iPhone and Android).
Finally, we continued the important work of fostering and encouraging better stewardship of the land. Through programs and other educational events like our Haskins Lecture on Bears in Fairfield County, which was attended by over 300 people, the land trust fostering a better understanding of nature.
We have one planet. Aspetuck Land Trust members help to protect it.