PRLC land steward and field biologist, Krista Munger, says “we manage each preserve differently according to its important habitat”. With this in mind, PRLC staff and volunteers joined conservation groups across New York State to control invasive species and restore native habitats during Invasive Species Awareness Week. July 12th as part of PRLC’s first-Saturday-of-the-month morning volunteer work sessions, staff, student volunteers, college summer interns and PR neighbors worked to preserve a rare fen habitat at PRLC’s Isaacson Preserve. Just about 50 volunteer hours were spent hand cutting and bagging the invasive phragmites reed which inundates this sensitive and rarely seen environment, home to wonderful dragonflies and grasshoppers. Participants got to understand how difficult the actual removal of this invasive plant is and reviewed PRLC’s impact on the fen’s native vegetation through investigation of study plots from years past.
Invasive management was addressed by volunteer work sessions throughout the summer in PRLC’s 70-acre Clark Preserve where swaths of invasive barberry was removed pursuant to a forest management plan and a grant from the NYS Watershed Council. In addition, a vernal pool habitat was made more conducive to wildlife with the girdling of several invasive Norway Maples and the removal of barberry and climbing vines. A private grant has been made to establish protected areas where newly planted native shrubs will be established this fall to assist with overall woodland health and resiliency.
Five local landowners joined Krista, our land steward/educator for an insightful wetlands guided talk and tour of the mysterious and seldom visited Isaacson Preserve – one of PRLC’s 17 preserves held for wildlife and habitat protection. Krista's talk focused upon the need to view wetlands as part of larger overall systems, called watersheds, of which there are 11 in Pound Ridge.
The contiguous Isaacson and Halle Ravine Preserves are located within the Mill River North watershed, which feeds the Mill River South and eventually empties in Long Island Sound. The Isaacson Preserve encompasses a red maple swamp with open areas of grass and low shrubs which, together are called Fens. Water flowing below and slightly above the surface provides a constant nutrient source for a rich community of specialized plants and animals.
Our small group saw Swamp azalea, seldom found anymore due to deer browse. We were also treated to a broken wing display from a Black-and-white warbler, which had its nest on the ground nearby along the steep bank lining the wetland.
As there is no trail at the Isaacson Preserve, it is suggested that visitors contact us to gain guided access.
We will be hosting an important summer volunteer work session on July 12th doing work to restrain the impacts of the invasive phragmites on this delicate environment. Contact Krista at email@example.com for more information and to register as a volunteer.
You are also invited to schedule a meeting with Krista to discuss your property’s location within one of Pound Ridge's watersheds and to target management concerns related to local wetlands’ health with best habitat management practices.
Young families join Krista for an Earth Day Hike on April 22nd at Carolin's Grove; Lakeland High School’s National Honor Society clears invasives at the 70-acre Clark Preserve racking up 32 hours of volunteer time for PRLC.
Five families with seven toddlers under the age of 3 had a wonderful outdoor experience exploring the Young Explorer’s Loop Trail at Carolins Grove where they found a spotted salamander; caregiver’s learned they are dependent upon wet spring vernal pools for breeding. Also found and played with were a few red-backed salamanders which live year-round under rocks and logs, where they also lay their eggs. Caregiver’s were excited to identify garlic mustard, an invasive in our woodlands and roadsides but were happy to learn that it is edible (as Krista demonstrated!). On April 12th, 16 students from Lakeland High School’s National Honor Society- at the other end of the education age spectrum- worked tirelessly to expand an invasive-species-free zone created in conjunction with a grant by the New York Watershed Agricultural Council whose forest management program works to protect forest ecosystem integrity by supporting the removal of barberry from lightly invaded areas, before it has a chance to change the soil chemistry and further inhibit natives re-growth.
All three positions being offered for our summer 2014 have been filled with highly qualified and exuberant students from the area. These positions include Conservation Intern, AEC Preserve and Native Plant Restoration Intern for college-age students and a Working Landscape and Gardening Intern for a local high school student. Funding for PRLC’s AEC Preserve and Native Plant Restoration Intern will be provided by a grant from Rusticus Garden Club; a private funder is sponsoring a fourth position for a returning student from last year’s summer program. PRLC Land steward/educator, Krista Munger, says “ I’m very excited about our 3rd summer internship program. Students started reaching out just after the first of the year, and what good energy, enthusiasm, experience and hands-on skills they bring! A part-time, fifth college summer internship has been created for a student who expressed strong interest in the Armstrong House’s green technology. She will be creating new web-based materials on each component of the House’s solar electric, solar thermal and several other integrated technologies. Krista looked forward to interviewing several very well-qualified, field-oriented students over the past month for these internship positions as well as several more unstructured volunteer opportunities. We’ll continue to look to students who contact us with their ideas and areas of interest. For the more unstructured volunteer opportunities, all hands and minds are welcome! For more information, visit Internships or call Krista at 914-205-3533.
Our recent Volunteer Work Session held at the Russell Preserve was a great success, attended by community members aged 8 to 70+. All hands helped to clear the trail of storm-downed trees and encroaching Wineberry, a non-native and invasive species. We were also treated to a view of fresh fox tracks across the pond, setting our youngest helpers off on a hunt up the frozen "river." Thank you to our volunteers for your support of PRLC and the great camaraderie on a beautiful day in nature. We welcome you to join us for the next fun work session on March 1st at 10 am at the Clark Preserve, and if you like, stay afterwards for a guided hike showcasing forestry techniques for private landowners.
PRLC recently hosted our autumn Open House at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center on Sunday, November 17th from 2-4p. Neighbors joined us for wine and cheese, and a tour of the upgraded and expanded off-the-grid energy systems of our land steward’s residence including solar electric and solar thermal energy systems that provide electricity, space heating and domestic hot water.
The tours presented the opportunity to explore and think about how components of these systems may be applied in your own home. Understand the use of a low-temperature radiant heating system, a heat recovery and ventilation system, the choices of spray foam, bio-based or blown in cellulose insulation and their benefits and the selection of low-water use and energy efficient appliances, among others.
In addition, our recent work on the varied habitats of the Armstrong Preserve in conjunction with the Preserve’s plan of conservation and management were highlighted during a short hike through the Armstrong meadow, vernal pool, woodland trails, and our working landscape replete with our very successful summer edible garden, newly planted coldframe, bee hive, composting system and chicken coop with a green roof.
There were questions and insights for your own landscapes shared. We also highlighted the work of our high school, college and graduate student summer interns and how their field projects and research as well as native landscaping and gardening plans will be implemented in the future at the Armstrong Education Center.
Look for our Spring 2014 Armstrong House and Energy Tour Dates on these pages!
On Saturday, November 2nd, PRLC hosted a fall photography workshop from 10-3p at the Armstrong Education Center located off Rt 121 in Pound Ridge. We were joined by a professional photographer Dan Goldman while bringing with our own camera, hiking shoes, water and bagged lunch or snack.
The workshop was free and open to both novices and experienced nature photographers. Using a hands-on approach, Dan explained basic and advanced principles of photography such as composition, depth of field, lighting and color balance. We then hit the trails and explored the beauty and mystery of the 43-acre Armstrong Preserve. At the day’s end, we had the opportunity to relax with hot chocolate and a slide show of everyone’s photographs. Students were welcome.
Dan is an award winning commercial and fine art photographer with over 28 years experience. His work has been published in national magazines,newspapers and galleries, including The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Rolling Stone Magazine. For the past 13 years, he has been teaching photography and Adobe Photoshop to adults and college and high school students.
For more information go to Fall Photography Workshop.
Our fall and early winter workshops, hikes and educational events are in full swing. On Sept. 21, 2013, PRLC's land steward/educator, Krista Munger, led a group of twenty hikers on a search for mushrooms at the Halle Ravine Preserve. After introducing the group to a the wide range of fungi that might be observed, everyone fanned out from the trail and began to use their collecting skills after learning that the living part of the mushroom is undisturbed by picking what is called the “fruiting body”. With more than 500 mushrooms found in Northern Westchester, some identification is better done indoors. Everyone was surprised to locate more than 34 species mostly thanks to the enthusiastic kids who found the likes of Dead Man’s Fingers, Eyelash Fungus and False Turkey Tail. The photo is of some of the species discovered and displayed at the Armstrong Education Center after the hike. PRLC will be designing its own mushroom growing exhibit in the near future using on-site and re-used materials. Stay–tuned!
The start of Autumn brings a chance to reflect on PRLC’s busy summer volunteer and student intern program, this year, supported in part by Rusticus Garden Club and several private donations. Our programs of land protection and education depend on the hard work of many helping hands, all of whom are engaged in hands-on learning in the field. On August 20th, interns and volunteers presented their summer projects to a group of community leaders, parents and friends. Several student volunteers supplemented the activities of PRLC’s 2013 summer student interns. Tuddy David came to us from Columbia University Graduate School and completed a 16- week internship in Native Landscape Design at the Armstrong Education Center where she analyzed site conditions and researched local ecology with the goal of establishing intimate, native plant gardens beneficial to wildlife. Nick Athanasidy, a plant ecology major at College of the Holy Cross in Worchester MA. conducted a base-line assessment of the vegetation community within PRLC’s proposed deer-exclosure at the Armstrong Preserve and documented seasonal change in the 5-acre meadow community at the Clark Preserve. Alizah Simon, a rising senior at Fox Lane High School, was PRLC’s summer garden intern. Alizah’s interactive garden map will be used to plan next year’s rotation of spring, summer and fall crops.
Each intern created maps, charts, graphs and photo documented their work. Many of their projects, research results and graphic tools will be highlighted on these pages in the upcoming months.
After 14 months of programming lead by PRLC’s first staff and land steward/educator, Tate Bushell, PRLC said good-bye the first week of May as Tate departed for a seasonal guiding position at a private preserve in Denali National Park in Alaska. We wish him and his partner Sarah the best in their endeavors and know they will remain fast friends of PRLC. Tate brought extensive scientific background, resource management and wonderful teaching skills to PRLC and our community. We know Krista will continue this tradition and bring her special skills and insights to our local conservation and education work.