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Halle Neighborhood Gathering on 4/30/16

Photo Credit: Lisl Steiner

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, with the generous collaboration and assistance of the Westchester Land Trust, hosted an informative social gathering at the lovely home of PRLC Treasurer Pamela Corey and her husband Troy, in celebration of the Halle Ravine Preserve.   The gathering was attended by more than 25 friends and neighbors of the Halle Ravine, who were treated to excellent hors d’oeuvres and wine and glorious spring weather.   President Mike Kagan introduced Pamela Corey, who gave a brief history of Hiram Halle’s love for the Ravine and determination to preserve it forever by purchasing the land and donating it to  the Nature Conservancy, who later turned it over to the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy.   WLT Director of Stewardship Tate Bushell spoke of the work of WLT and their close relationship with PRLC.   PRLC Land Steward, Krista Munger, gave a lively and educational talk about the important flora and ecology of the Ravine, complete with demonstrational materials.   Ms. Munger identified, with samples, several invasive plants that are presently being targeted for control not only in our town generally but in the Ravine, and stressed the importance of each landowner doing the same on their own properties.  WLT provided a native potted fern to guests to take home.

Ms. Munger also spoke of the projects that PRLC is undertaking in the Ravine this year and next, including the preparation of a certified management plan; introduction and protection of native plants in substitution for invasives as they are removed; the upgrading of bridges and steps along the trails; and the installation of additional tree identification signs for at least 15 species, to further Hiram Halle’s vision of the Ravine as a “living museum.” Longer term projects include the construction and reopening of the bridge and trailway over the dam; and the creation of expanded and safer parking along the Trinity Pass entrance to the Preserve.

Guests contributed generously to the funding needed for the various projects, which together with Land Trust Alliance grant funds will go a long way to making the planned projects a reality.   PRLC is always seeking volunteers and contributions to further its goals, both in the Halle Ravine and in its additional 17 preserves throughout Town.   For more information, go to www.PRLC.net.

Volunteers Plant 120 Trees at the Carolin’s Grove Work Session

IMG_20160429_170923090 copyOur Arbor Day Celebration and volunteer tree-planting event at Carolin’s Grove Preserve on Friday, April 29th was a great success. Thirteen volunteers attended and helped to plant our fenced reforestation area with a new forest to replace what was lost several years ago during Hurricane Sandy. Four of our volunteers came from local high schools. two from elementary school, and seven from the wider community of interested adults. It turns out, everyone loves Arbor Day! Teachers from the Pound Ridge Elementary School plan to bring their third grade students out next to expand planting areas and to water existing trees. A number of high school students have reached out to us, offering to volunteer with follow up and future projects.

PRLC arranged to purchase our saplings for low cost from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Saratoga Tree Nursery (a service for anyone who wishes to plant for conservation purposes). We also received a donation of saplings from the Bartlett Tree Experts, and grew a few more in our own nursery at the Armstrong Preserve. To kick off our Arbor Day event, Bartlett representative Brad Gurr demonstrated the preferred technique for planting a sapling tree. He then assisted volunteers in exceeding our goals for planting in this session. We were also aided by the donation of use of a water tanker by the Town of Pound Ridge Highway Department, and by the solid commitment of all our volunteers. Together, we planted more than 120 trees and shrubs in the main restoration area, comprising six native species: White pine, Red pine, Pitch pine, Red oak, Arrowwood, and Northern bayberry. Our summer interns will monitor the site and weed and provide water as necessary.

Our next step is to expand tree planting around the main fenced area, including unfenced areas and two smaller enclosures. We seek to maintain a conifer forest in the Grove while strengthening the diversity and long-term sustainability of this popular hiking site. Visitors should enjoy the tremendous growth expected in our restoration areas over the next few years, and are welcome to join our volunteer team to hasten renewal at this and other special places in Pound Ridge. The time to plant is now!

Halle Ravine Preserve is Focus of Early Spring Volunteer Work Session

IMG_20160402_093413394_HDR (002)The morning of Saturday, April 2nd with rain, mist and some muddy slosh, a dozen neighbors and volunteers turned out in raincoats, work boots and gloves to help feed a chipper from piles which had been neatly stacked in late fall at the entrance. PRLC’s board and staff were grateful for the all-hands-on-deck attitude and help. Pound Ridge Highway Department also assisted in setting out traffic cones to provide a protected work area.  Chipping of a solid amount of cut material including invasive woody bushes and small trees was necessary even though much brush had already been piled amongst the trees in the fall for the use of wildlife as habitat and cover from predators. The goal of all this activity and more to come is both aesthetic as well as functional. PRLC has been beautifying the entrance to many of our preserves which have trails, clearing invasive growth and replanting native species for the benefit of wildlife in deer exclosures- protected areas- and alongside the trail and parking areas. Along with this beautification, a plan is being put together to address kiosk signage making it more uniform throughout PRLC’s preserves with updated information.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated at Halle as much work was accomplished. New friends were made and everyone was satisfied at the now cleared entrance of the historic, Halle Ravine. Please come and check out the trails at Halle as we continue our work throughout the year. Let us know if you’re interested in helping out and we’ll get you on our notification list. Email landsteward@prlc.net or call 914-205-3533 at the Armstrong Education Center.

Armstrong Education Center’s Forum on Opportunities for Conservationists of All Ages

DSC_0969On February 27th,  PRLC held its first forum to connect interested citizen conservationists with local resources and organizations working in the environmental field. We were privileged to have as a guest speaker John Cronin who is the Senior Fellow in Environmental Affairs at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University, where he is helping to create an interdisciplinary program of undergraduate and graduate studies in environmental innovation and policy.  He shared with us his inspiring story of how he became the first Hudson Riverkeeper starting in 1983 and went on to pursue a 40 year career in environmental advocacy as a result of a formative volunteer experience with music legend Pete Seeger.  PRLC’s Land Steward & Educator, Krista Munger, and Geoff Griffiths, a visiting graduate student from the SUNY School on Environmental Science and Forestry, presented various local and national initiatives which use volunteer data to inform decision-making on conservation priorities.  Geoff is working to develop the New York Wildflower Monitoring Project on the iNaturalist web platform.

We were pleased to see the interest generated by this event and look forward to working with local conservationists interested in citizen science to support both our work and the work of other inspiring, local organizations. To obtain the resource list prepared for this event, email Krista at landsteward@prlc.net  or call 914-205-3533 at PRLC’s Armstrong Education Center’s Office.

Volunteer Work Session at Armstrong Preserve and Education Center

Calling All Green Thumbs!

Date: Saturday, May 7th, 2016
Time: 10am-12noon
Location: Armstrong Preserve off Rt 121

DSC_1604As budding greenery abounds around us, at this time of spring, we’re needed to assist with restoration efforts and planting young tree saplings, shrubs, and other native plants in our Armstrong native plant nursery and restoration areas, at both the 43-acre Armstrong Preserve and other PRLC protected areas.  Following introductions and a primer on planting techniques which will be useful throughout the year at PRLC’s multiple restoration events and venues, participants will be given a tour of the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center’s five restored outdoor classroom habitats stating at 10:30a. Learn the critical roles local meadow habitats, woodlands edge, wetlands and-important in spring- vernal pools, have to our local ecology systems and their inhabitants. Armed with this knowledge, we’ll understand why our restoration replanting is so needed.

Please message Krista at landsteward.educator@prlc.net or call 914-204-3533 to register, get directions and additional information and to coordinate involvement in our spring restoration projects at Armstrong and PRLC’s other protected lands.  Parking at the top of the driveway. 1361 Old Post Rd. Pound Ridge.

Guided Hike: Nighttime Observation of the Armstrong Vernal Pool

Have you Heard Those Spring Peepers Calling?

Date: Saturday, May 7th, 2016
Time: Dusk
Location: Guided Hike at the Armstrong Preserve off Rt 121

image001-2Surely you have heard Spring peepers calling, but have you ever seen one?  They and their cousins, the Common gray treefrog, are mysterious creatures of the tree canopy that gather in freshly filled pools by night to sing their breeding chorus in the spring. Witness this breathtaking natural phenomenon by flashlight at our vernal pool at the Armstrong Preserve, where we have, this year, begun the construction of a  new pedestrian walkway bridge over the vernal pool  for visitors to get the best view of the abundant life moving through this seasonally intermittent, water-filled pond. Although the walkway is not complete- but will be as soon as the vernal pool dries later this spring-  pond viewing from the edge is excellent.  Several new amenities await you on your visit to Armstrong’s five outdoor classroom habitats including informative signage to guide your self-exploration of the Preserve’s loop trail.

Visit our Facebook page to view a video of last year’s breeding chorus.

For more information, directions and to register email landsteward.educator@prlc.net or call 914-204-3533 in case of inclement weather. Drop-in families welcome. Parking at the top of the driveway. 1361 Old Post Rd., Pound Ridge.

Volunteer Work Session at the Russell Preserve- one of PRLC’s Best for Birding

Date: Saturday, May 21st, 2016
Time: 9am-12noon
Location: Russell Preserve Meet at the entrance to the Preserve- High Ridge and Upper Shad

Have you noticed the recent road-side beautification happening along High Ridge Road?  Neighbors and friends of PRLC’s Russell Preserve are working to restore the Russell Preserve’s scenic roadside entrance. Large amounts of the invasive Garlic mustard and stilt grass have been culled from the side of High Ridge Road over many mornings by dedicated, abutting neighbors, replacing it with native grass. We continue their work to clear storm debris and become acquainted with this preserve’s charming pine alley, pond views and older surviving plantings originally installed to promote bird and wildlife habitat by the donors of this little gem, Ed and Mary Jane Russell.  Bird-lovers may want to arrive early and hike a short distance (less than 1/4 mile) to our newly constructed bird blind by an ambitious Pound Ridge candidate Eagle Scout, Marco V. He will continue his work to enhance the Russell’s habitat and water quality capabilities over the next few years.

To tell us your joining or for directions, please contact PRLC’s land steward Krista Munger at landsteward@prlc.net or call the Armstrong Education Office at 914-205-3533. Parking is available on the side road parallel to High Ridge at the intersection with Upper Shad. Please wear work boots and bring work gloves, hand clippers or a small hand saw if you have them, along with water.

Volunteer Work Session at the Clark Preserve: Bog Bridges and Barberry

Date: Saturday, June 4th, 2016
Time: 10am-12noon
Location: Clark Preserve off Autumn Ridge Road

DSC_1099PRLC’s June volunteer work session brings us back to the Clark Preserve after work done on 140 feet of a 3 board-wide bog bridge last summer and fall, starting at the ‘wet’ meadow and extending into the low-lying woodlands adjacent to the 5-acre Clark meadow. Again- we will be using locust and cedar cross-ties locally culled from downed red cedar in PRLC preserves to construct this continuation of bog bridge to protect fragile understory from tromping but often well-intentioned feet.  At this work session, we will extend the board walk along wet section of trail in the northeastern part of the preserve.  Volunteers will learn why and how to protect defined conservation values in sensitive habitats such as wetlands and will be taught to identify invasive plants that threaten biodiversity in our local and varied habitats. Not surprisingly, as we prepare for bridge installation, one glance around and we’ll see all the work to do even in wetter, low-lying areas to control invasive understory shrubs that threaten to deprive soil nutrients, sunlight and air to our native flora.

For this in-the-field workshop and work session, RSVP by emailing landsteward.educator@prlc.net or call Krista at 914-205-3533.  We will meet at the parking lot and preserve kiosk off Autumn Ridge Road. Please bring a shovel and wear protective clothing including long sleeves, pants, waterproof footwear and work gloves to protect against possible thorns.

Guided Hike and Walking Tour of the Armstrong Preserve’s Learning Landscape

Event for the Whole Family from Toddlers to Mobile Seniors

Date: Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Time: 12noon
Location: Armstrong Preserve and Education Center off Rt 121

DSC_0725This is the very best time of year to visit the native plant gardens- an event for the entire family to be outdoors and learn about our local habitat and ecology. As our summer schedules begin to open up after school and harried calendars and before we jump into summer activities, come learn about PRLC’s learning landscape resources.  Five newly completed  outdoor classroom habitats  showcase native flora and target the interested landowner who is considering changes to their own backyards in ways that support local wildlife, water quality and healthy environments.  Our staff, volunteers and funders have been busy in their support and development of this incredible, local educational resource showcasing best practices in meadow management- what healthy habitat can be created and sustained- a vernal pool restored and viewable up close and personal with a newly installed pedestrian footbridge that takes you to the center of the action at this time of year. Also, check out the Armstrong’s  working backyard- including garden- chicken coop and green roof- composting system and native plantings that will inspire and spur your interest in productive landscapes.

The newly upgraded off-the-grid energy systems will also be showcased at this event along with newly installed monitoring, control and automation systems which facilitate advanced functionality- making the Armstrong House truly ‘smart’. The prototype has begun its second act as a flexible, optimized and tangible producer and consumer of residential domestic energy.

Parking for this event is available at the top of the driveway and along Rt 121.  RSVP by emailing landsteward.educator@prlc.net or calling Krista at the Armstrong Education Center’s office 914-205-3533. 1361 Old Post Rd. Pound Ridge.

PRLC Annual Meeting Update

IMG_20160131_161235564On January 20th, the PRLC membership and board met at the Pound Ridge Library to elect returning and new board members and new board officers for 2016. Newly elected to the board is Pamela Corey, a 9-year resident of Pound Ridge and avid hiker. She will begin a 3- year term although she has been active with the organization over the past year in a volunteer capacity. Elyse Arnow was re-appointed for another 3-year board term. New officers were elected for 2016 with Mike Kagan as newly installed President, Pamela Corey as Treasurer, Deborah Sherman as Vice President and Elyse Arnow as Secretary. Mike has been on the board for five years, Treasurer for the past three and active on the organization’s Preserve Management and Development Committees. He hails formerly of Winterbottom Lane and now of Old Stone Hill Road. We welcome his talents and vision and applaud his dedication.

The membership heard a wide-ranging program update from PRLC staff Krista Munger highlighting the summer intern and volunteer programs which accumulated over 950 volunteer hours for 2015 and another 450 hours of paid student internship time working on stewardship and field projects at PRLC’s preserves. Also highlighted was the work of 4 Eagle Scouts including a new kiosk at the Richards Preserve off Honey Hollow Rd. and new bridge connecting Armstrong trails to DEC reservoir views. Krista noted she worked with over 140 non-board volunteers focusing predominantly on invasives control and management throughout select preserves. A total of 10 workshops were held over the 12 month period as well as 6 guided, themed hikes. The new Armstrong self-guided trail, its outdoor classroom habitats, vernal pool walkway construction and signage were focuses of this year’s grant-supported educational outreach.

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