A Year Connecting Our Community to Conservation
Through our efforts this year, entrances of PRLC preserves along with many acres of protected woodlands look different. At our monthly volunteer sessions and summer internship program, PRLC staff teach and use best field management practices to build resilience (in response to climate change stresses) and habitat health. PRLC’s work in our community is vital as we involve neighbors, students and landowners in building knowledge around healthy ecosystems including critical water quality, soil management, and restored habitat to support wildlife diversity and human health.
At the Russell Preserve located at the intersection of High Ridge Road and Upper Shad, neighbors, town employees along with Supervisor Lyman, cleared trails and the roadway viewshed of tangled invasives. This work built upon the invasive management work of an Eagle Scout the previous year. At the 70-acre Clark Preserve off Autumn Ridge, volunteers cleared 9 acres of nasty, invasive barberry, bittersweet and winged euonymus, and built hundreds of feet of bog bridges to protect critical watershed land. At the popular Halle Preserve off Trinity Pass, board members, neighbors and young volunteers rebuilt stairs along an embankment to protect the Ravine’s watercourse and stabilize soil. We are proud of the results of many hours of work at the Halle entrance where hundreds of native plants have been planted and protected from deer browse.
Our Propagation Lab (Prop Lab) is the first in our area where native plants are grown from local seed and where students and volunteers come to learn propagation techniques including seed collection, storage, early spring indoor germination and transplanting. At the off-the-grid Armstrong Education Center, we doubled our nursery space and raised more than 500 plants for restoration projects throughout PRLC preserves. Some of our favorite easy-to-grow plants for pollinators (bees and birds) are milkweed, aster and goldenrod. For future tree canopy, we continue to grow oak, maple and hickory saplings that will be planted in our protected woodlands. Next year, we will increase PRLC’s shrub nursery by using cuttings from existing plants- including chokeberry, spicebush and sweet pepperbush among others- thereby sustaining local seed varieties and genotypes. Volunteers can continue to help by donating their own cuttings next spring or by assisting with seed preparation this fall and winter. This is, in the truest sense, a community sustainability initiative!
A new initiative to protect the old-growth hemlock forest at The Halle Preserve requires special note. These stately trees have fallen prey to the Woolly adelgid, a small, aphid-like insect that threatens the health and viability of the Eastern hemlock. These long-lived trees grow well in shady, steep areas unlike many other tree species, and provide a unique, shaded habit (for critters such as the Pileated Woodpecker) and important soil erosion protection.
The Halle Preserve hemlock forest has declined from 18 acres to 4 acres. After considered discussion and consultation with area experts, PRLC’s board has decided to move forward with an insecticide application early spring of 2017 before pollinators have arrived when negative impacts can be minimized. Large scale spraying will not be used,, instead, application is directly to the trunk bark of individual trees. Results will be carefully monitored.
PRLC remains committed to the use of mechanical and hand-pulling techniques but in certain cases, we have come to understand that to combat the significant threats and changes in our local environment, limited-use chemical applications may be necessary.
Please know, our work is supported, in part, by grants from the NY Watershed Council and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program. However, the heavy lifting for the majority of PRLC’s work comes from our community- individuals, family foundations, and small organizations. We do not have development or fundraising staff, with only a single landsteward/educator providing our programming. Our volunteer board works tirelessly to support her efforts. We need to raise a minimum of45K each year for necessary expenses including but not limited to insuring public access on our privately owned trails, Armstrong Education Center maintenance along with costs of program implementation including staff salary, benefits and outreach. We hope you will continue your support and lend a hand to our important, community-driven initiatives.
Mike Kagan, Fall 2016