The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy will host our annual Arbor Day Tree Planting and Celebration, in conjunction with the Town of Pound Ridge Conservation Board, on Friday April 27 at Carolin’s Grove. Volunteers are welcome to arrive between 10am and 4 pm to plant one tree or as many as they like. We will provide gloves, tools, and 200 native tree saplings to plant just a short distance from the parking area at 220 Stone Hill Road.
Expect to receive expert guidance on planting techniques that you can use at home, as well as advice on what native plants to choose for home landscaping and restoration projects. Bartlett Tree Experts has partnered with us to provide trees for this ongoing restoration project supported by The Winfield Family Foundation and the Conservation Partnership Program of the Land Trust Alliance. We are grateful for their assistance in reforesting canopy gaps within this important conifer stand and for the opportunity to involve the public in maintaining our healthy environment.
If you are interested in obtaining two free trees for your own use, please see the flyer here or go to www.arborday.org/poundridge. Make sure to apply before April 15th, and remember to pick up your trees on April 27 or 28 at the Pound Ridge Townhouse. This program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, DEC, NYSEG, and Pound Ridge Conservation Board.
Nature lovers of all ages are invited to the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy’s Earth Day guided hike at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center, Sunday April 22nd at 2pm. We will tour the outdoor classrooms of this 43 acre nature preserve including woodland wildflower gardens with spring ephemeral plants in bloom, a small meadow, and a vernal pool that will be hopping with frogs for our visit. Enjoy viewing their activity from our new bridge that extends over the deepest reaches of this temporary seasonal wetland and learn why habitats like this are essential to amphibian life. Bring your binoculars for possible migratory bird sightings or a camera for early flowers. The Armstrong house backyard will be open for a guided or self-guided look at our native plant nursery and off-the-grid solar system, as well as our Land Steward’s small vegetable garden, chickens, and rabbits. Your questions are welcome. Please visit our website, prlc.net, to learn more about what to expect at the Armstrong, and register to join us with Krista at 914-205-3533 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will begin the tour at 2pm at the preserve kiosk on the right as you enter and will end at the top of the driveway. Parking is available at either location. (Link to directions).
The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy invites nature lovers of all ages to our Citizen Science and Volunteer Forum, Let’s Talk Turtle, on February 25, 6pm, at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center in Pound Ridge (map). Participants will meet two ambassador turtles and learn what to do when they find a turtle, why turtles are declining regionally, and how to monitor and protect them, including how to become a trained wildlife rehabilitator. High School and College students are encouraged to attend to learn about internships, training, and volunteer positions available with the PRLC and guest organizations. Light refreshments will be served.
Featured guest speakers for this program include Patricia Johnson, Wildlife Rehabilitator and Turtle Advocate; Steve Ricker, Director of Conservation and Wildlife Management at Westmoreland Sanctuary; and Krista Munger, PRLC’s Land Steward and Educator and longtime turtle biologist. They will be joined by Kendall O’Connell, Naturalist at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (WPRR) and Morgan Tunnell, a student researcher at Fox Lane High School (FLHS).
Patricia Johnson will address the common question of what to do when a turtle is encountered on the road, including when it is injured, and how to support wildlife rehabilitators or become one. She trains new rehabbers and networks with organizations specializing in turtle conservation through Citizen Science programs. Mr. Ricker will present on Westmoreland Sanctuary’s 20 year project to mark and release program for box turtles as well as painted turtles on its property. The main objectives of this program are to recognize how many individuals the habitat supports and identify nesting and hibernating areas in hopes of protecting and enhancing these areas. Ms. O’Connell will recruit high-school aged Conservationists-in-Training to survey for turtles on WPPR. Krista Munger will describe highlights of her work engaging young scientists in a long-term research project on Blanding’s turtle, including FLHS senior Morgan Tunnell, and will promote this season’s internships and volunteer opportunities at PRLC. Information on how to apply is available on their website. www.prlc.net, and applicants are encouraged to attend. Please register for this free event by contacting Krista at email@example.com or 914-205-3533.
Link to Feb 25 2018 flyer
We are pleased to announce part-time Summer Internships available with the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy. We plan to hire two college students as Preserve Steward interns to work on PRLC’s preserve management and outreach initiatives. We will also engage two high school seniors in an independent senior-year work experience through their respective schools. Applicants for the high school senior internships apply here. Qualified applicants for the Preserve Steward Internships should email a cover letter and resume to Krista Munger at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31, 2018.
Preserve Steward Internship Summer 2018
Desired: A college student in Environmental Studies or similar field to assist with trail maintenance, habitat restoration, mapping, research, and community outreach activities on lands that have been protected for their conservation value. Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to conservation and community service and a desire for hands-on experience in scientific and land management projects.
About the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy (PRLC): The PRLC is a non-profit land trust that owns and manages over 500 acres of wild land in Pound Ridge, New York. Our preserves are home to thousands of plants and animals and are managed for the preservation of biodiversity as well as for the visiting public. PRLC’s hub is located at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center, 1361 Old Post Road in Pound Ridge, NY. This is an off-the-grid facility where interns and volunteers learn environmentally sustainable practices and assist in educating others. For more information, see our website, prlc.net.
- Maintain clear and safe hiking trails on PRLC nature preserves, including trail and kiosk signage and entrance visibility. 30%
- Assist in projects to monitor and manage invasive species. 30%
- Collect data on deer browse pressure, ash tree mortality, and plant density and survival. 10%
- Participate in outreach programs to inform and engage the public on conservation issues, including production of a slideshow or video presentation and written report on the internship experience. 30%
Training and Supervision: Interns will be trained and supervised by PRLC’s Land Steward & Educator, Krista Munger with support from the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management. They will learn the safe use of tools, sustainable stewardship techniques, innovate research solutions, and plant and animal identification. Interns will gain experience in providing leadership to younger volunteers on the team and occasionally work with partner organizations on local conservation initiatives.
Qualifications: Candidates will have an educational background in the natural sciences or documented experience in the outdoors. Experience with GIS or video production is desired. Applicants should be capable of working full or half days in the field (in the heat, amidst insects and other wildlife) and must be able to use hand tools.
Schedule: The internship runs for ten weeks. Interns must start between May 30 and June 6 and work until August 15. Work days are generally 5 days per week, choice of days Monday through Saturday, 9am to 1pm. Interns are required to attend a public presentation of our work on August 15, 6pm-8pm.
Compensation: A stipend of $1250.00 will be provided. Housing is not offered for this internship.
To apply: Email a resume and cover letter by 3/31/18 to Krista Munger at email@example.com. Please label attachments with your name.
What’s on tap with the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy in 2018? Our Land Steward and Educator, Krista Munger, will present a series of free educational and service events at PRLC nature preserves starting with our annual Citizen Science and Volunteer Forum on February 25 at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center. We will feature local turtle conservation projects that incorporate volunteers and will be recruiting interns and volunteers for our summer program. Letters of interest about internships may be addressed to Krista at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers of all ages are always welcome. We hold our first Saturday volunteer work session on March 3 at 10am at the Clark Preserve. Please register ahead to receive notice of cancellation or change due to weather.
Hiking trails are open ever day from dawn to dusk at the following PRLC preserves: Armstrong, Bye, Carolin’s Grove, Clark, Halle Ravine, Richards, and Russell. Please leash dogs for safety and to protect wildlife. For questions on our dog policy please email us at email@example.com.
|Date||Time||Type of Event||Location||Title|
|2/25||6pm-730pm||Outreach||Armstrong||Volunteer Recruitment Night: Special topic on opportunities to become involved in local turtle conservation projects|
|3/3||10am-12pm||Volunteer Work Session||Clark||Invasive Species Management: Remove barberry to maintain watershed forest health|
|4/14||10am-12pm||Volunteer Work Session||Isaacson||Invasive Species Management: Autumn olive and Asiatic bittersweet|
|4/22||2pm-4pm||Guided Hike||Armstrong||Earth Day Tour of Vernal Pool and Woodland Wildflowers|
|4/27||10am-4pm||Volunteer Work Session||Carolin’s Grove||Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting|
|5/5||10am-12pm||Volunteer Work Session||Halle Ravine||Invasive Species Management: Follow up on Euonymus and Bittersweet Cutting|
|5/20||2pm-4pm||Guided Hike||Halle Ravine||Big Trees: Saving Ash and Hemlock in an Ancient Forest|
|6/2||10am-12pm||Volunteer Work Session||Armstrong||Invasive Species Management: Garlic Mustard Challenge and Species Identification Training|
|6/10||2-4pm||Guided Hike||Bye Preserve||A Second Look at Ferns and Mosses|
It is that time of year when the garden is done, the birds are gone, and nature’s palette is fading to a gray wash. What’s a naturalist to do? Delve into the mosses! I will share with you what I have learned so far and point to a few resources that have been helpful guides in this new exploration. Evolutionarily, mosses are primitive plants that are a step beyond algae but that lack the more sophisticated seed and flower structures that most plants use for reproduction. People tend to like them, perhaps because of their diminutive size and soft feel, but they also sometimes confuse moss with molds, mildew, lichens, the closely related liverworts, and the distantly related clubmosses. So what do you look for when examining what appears to be a moss?
Take an up-close look and see that the growing colony is made of individual strands or stems, closely packed together. Your first step is to separate out one or more of these strands and to soak them for a few minutes to amplify their identifying features. Then evaluate whether the single piece’s growth form fits into one of three categories:
- Acrocarps have stems that typically stand straight up, with sparse forks if any. The stems are packed tightly together like tufts of carpet.
- Pleurocarps have stems that tend to trail along the ground, branching freely and at wider angles. The individual plants twine together to form mats.
- Peat mosses have stems that stand upright and have branches in clusters of three or more that are often crowded at the tips. They are said to resemble mop-heads.
Your next step is to examine the shape of the leaves on the single strand you are holding. This will likely require a hand-lens (10x) or microscope. You must use your relative judgement to decide whether the leaves are hair-like, lance, tongue, or sickle shaped, or ovate. It’s okay if you can’t decide – I couldn’t either at first, so I scrolled through more sections of the identification guide than needed. It gets easier with practice.
The third step in helping to nail down an identification is to note whether the leaf has a midrib running down its center. Again, this will require a sight aid for most of us. There are a limited number of species bearing each combination of growth form, leaf shape, and midrib, so these three steps should help you to narrow down your options to a handful of candidates. Don’t be too quick to call the identity of your specimen – mosses are challenging and much of the fun is in experiencing them and teasing out their ambiguities.
I found these five common species on a recent foray into the Eastwoods Preserve, where they should be visible all winter except when hidden under snowfall.
I also found a few plants that were not mosses at all, although their names imply otherwise. The two species are part of a group that is more closely related to ferns and would be found in identification guides to the ferns and their allies. The last two are lichens, which are a symbiotic combination of algae with two kinds of fungi. They are environmentally sensitive, like mosses, and are easily disturbed, so please tread lightly around these fascinating life forms.
Beyond identification is a an entire field of study on the functions of moss in the web of life and on our landscape. While these primitive and ancient life forms have evolved enough defenses to be basically inedible, they have a long history as soil builders and environmental modifiers that help to stabilize ecology and provide a foothold for other lifeforms to thrive in otherwise barren places. They also photosynthesize and store carbon (especially important in arctic regions), absorb rainfall and runoff lessening erosion, and serve as habitat refuges for small organisms. Anthropogenically, they have proved useful for their antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties in human medicine. They are certainly worth a look!
Resources to recommend for beginning learners include:
Regional guidebook for identification: https://www.amazon.com/Common-Mosses-Northeast-Appalachians-Princeton/dp/0691156964
Facebook group on Lichens, Mosses, Ferns and Fungi, with members from around the world, helpful with identification of lichens and mosses mainly: https://www.facebook.com/groups/172285406121262/about/
Sunday, November 12, 2pm. We will practice tree and moss identification on this family-friendly hike along the one-mile loop trail at Eastwoods Preserve (link to map). Eastwoods was purchased by the Town of Pound Ridge in 2009 and is maintained by a partnership between the Pound Ridge Conservation Board and the PRLC. The forest is rich in Mountain laurel, ferns, moss and often mushrooms, giving it a fairly-land quality. The trails are tighter and more twisting than most, a joy to hike on a fall day. Please register with Krista at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-205-3533. Parking is limited at the Preserve parking lot at 134 Eastwoods Road, so please carpool if you can.
In this latest installment of the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy (PRLC) blog, I invite you to explore the vast history of time written in the rocks of Pound Ridge with a focus on the Armstrong Preserve, located in the northwestern corner of town at 1361 Old Post Road. Trails at this preserve are open to hikers every day of the year from dawn to dusk.
To begin, please imagine that your arm represents geologic time, with your shoulder joint being the Big Bang and the tip of your middle finger representing today. Rocks began to form near your elbow and the dawn of life occurred just before your wrist. Between your wrist and the middle of your palm, the prominent bedrock types of Pound Ridge were created by successive waves of mountain-building events. They were then covered and contorted repeatedly, over millions of years, and eventually stripped bare by the glaciers that receded only 20,000 years ago, near the tip of your middle finger on our imaginary time scale. We must look to the wider region and even the other side of the world to piece together this vast history, much of it obliterated by time.
The oldest rock in Pound Ridge is the Fordham gneiss underlying Armstrong Preserve. It was produced 1.1 billion years ago during a Precambrian period called the Grenville Orogeny, when this part of the world was located in the Southern Hemisphere and was turned 90 degree on its side from our current orientation. This collision between then-continents Laurentia and Amazonia caused the rise of a massive mountain range that compressed and deformed existing rock into a Gneiss basement layer that is called the Grenville Province and underlies much of New York.
Gneiss is a high-grade metamorphic rock, formed from either granite or sedimentary layers under intense heat and pressure. It is resistant to weathering and can be seen in the many exposed outcrops of Armstrong as well as in the nearby Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. While variable in color, gneiss displays distinct foliation, or grain, created by alternating layers of its component minerals: quartz, plagioclase, biotite mica, garnet, hornblende and others. The alternating light and dark colors that are so characteristic of gneiss do not represent fossilized sedimentary layers but rather a restructuring and realignment of minerals into layers that are called “gneissic banding.”
The basement layer we now see visible before us was increasingly buried by the sediments of the eroding Grenville Mountains over the next 400 million years, which depressed the land with their great weight and at times were inundated by shallow seas. Then, in the late Ordovician Period, a volcanic island arc approached and slammed into this part of the continent. Called the Taconic Orogeny, it’s pressure created our local Manhattan Schist and Inwood Marble and severely folded the existing bedrock into large ENE-WSW trending ridges and valleys. This or a subsequent episode caused some intrusions of granitic pegmatite in Armstrong’s bedrock as well, which were subsequently folded too.
Life was difficult in New York for the next few million years as continents collided and mountains rose and fell. The Fordham gneiss of Armstrong experienced a third wave of compression and metamorphosis in the Acadian Orogeny followed by another long period of erosion of highlands and sedimentation of lowlands. Folding caused by this event runs in a NNE direction and is difficult to discern from the preceding episode.
The last of the great mountain-building events was the Alleghanian Orogeny, 300 million years ago in the late Carboniferous Period. This fourth collision resulted in the formation of Pangaea and was strongly felt in southeastern New York, where it produced tight folds that reoriented earlier land formations.
The supercontinent Pangaea did not last long before it began to rift apart, resulting in volcanoes and allowing inundation of previously dry land. Evidence from that period is visible in the Hudson River Valley and in the Palisades, but was largely swept clear from Pound Ridge in the Pleistocene: the age of glacial advance and retreat. An ice sheet measuring one-half mile thick ground back and forth across this landscape for nearly 100,000 years, freezing and thawing, cracking rocks and transporting them from mountaintops to the sea. During four long periods of retreat, the glaciers dropped stone inland and created dams and flooding, and a rise in sea levels that brought the sea to our door.
The last glacial ice disappeared from Pound Ridge about 12,000 years ago, leaving behind a roughened and stony landscape that has been little changed by the thin mantle of forest now covering it. We can readily see the glacier’s action in the exposed stony faces of east-facing hills and the till and boulder-strewn west-facing slopes. Glacial erratics are common: there is a huge boulder perched atop a forty foot cliff at Armstrong’s Crow Ledge, tumbled for some distance but now at a high point in the Preserve. There are also several lesser cliffs, some with wonderful gneissic banding and folding, and talus at their bases. The vast majority of rock seen will be Fordham gneiss but there is the possibility of finding any mineral from higher elevations carried here by force of wind or water, or even human.
Keep an eye out for history on the landscape. It has quite a tale to tell, if only we read the clues.
Thank you to Ted Dowey for photographs and assistance with this exploration. I have also relied heavily upon the following published resources:
Robert Titus of Hartwick College, frequent contributor to regional media and author of The Catskills: A Geological Guide. Third edition 2004. (link)
Chet and Maureen Raymo’s invaluable book Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States. Third edition in 2001. (link)
Mehdi Alavi’s 1975 Thesis: Geology of the Bedford Complex and Surrounding Rocks, Southeastern New York. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. (link)
This collection of photographs depicts mushrooms found in Halle Ravine in the last few fall seasons and is a good primer for what we can expect to see on our guided walk on September 24. Registration for that event is filling quickly so please contact Krista by email or by phone (914-205-3533) to register or to cancel and make room for another person to join us.
We have encountered dry weather conditions in most years and therefore find mainly bracket fungi, which are supported by the moisture held in wood. For the difficult to distinguish species, I include several instructive photos from Richard Nadon and others from MushroomExpert.com.
Halle Ravine is a nature preserve protected by the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy and is open for hiking every day from dawn to dusk. Foraging or collection of any form of wildlife is generally prohibited in the Preserve. Trail maps and more information are available at www.prlc.net/preserves.
Volunteers are invited to join our work sessions in both September and October in Carolin’s Grove, where we are working to restore forest to about an acre of storm-damaged woods. On September 9, we will work from 10am to noon to clear areas of invasive Japanese stilt grass to prepare them for planting. On October 14, we will plant grass seed and wildflowers in sunlit gaps to support pollinators and other animals during the transition back to forest. Come back, if you have volunteered here before, and be amazed at what’s growing up in Carolin’s Grove now!