What We’re Working on this Winter …
Executive Director Rod Christie’s always thinking about land conservation and protection in and around the Mianus River Watershed. He is excited about the restoration project we’re calling Lockwood Pond II. The Lockwood Pond II project focuses on the wetlands that comprise the headwaters of Piping Brook, a tributary of the Mianus River and an important corridor for wildlife. The Piping Brook corridor is now protected in perpetuity by Mianus River Gorge, part of the Gorge’s land acquisition of the 73-acre Levene property.
Currently, this portion is categorized as a compromised wetland, choked with every type of invasive plant and vine imaginable: porcelain berry, allanthus, phragmites, Japansese bittersweet, multi-flora rose, mugwort, and many more. Rod is currently working with wetlands experts to design a restoration plan to restore Lockwood Pond II at the headwaters of the Piping Brook corridor.
Because Lockwood Pond II is so severely compromised, we will have to remove invasive species and discarded / abandoned construction materials (rip rap, boulders, cinder blocks) from this former potential housing site. Every effort will be made to protect any surviving native plants.
MRG will replant the wetland with hardy, native herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees, such as spice bush, sedge, rushes, etc. The plantings component of the Lockwood Pond II project also will serve as a model for designing and implementing an effective and attractive wetlands restoration.
MRG has an opportunity to link this project with other collaborative efforts to preserve and protect the watershed; create riparian corridors for migrating birds, butterflies and other pollinators; and better educate private landowners about responsible stewardship.
Speaking of butterflies and pollinators, MRG Wildlife & Habitat Consultations are underway. Rod, along with Director of Land Manager & Research Chris Nagy and Staff Biologist & Preserve Manager Budd Veverka, has been visiting property owners who want to know more about the natural history of their properties, which native plant species to plant to attract wildlife, and how to control unwanted invasive species.
The team has also installed wildlife cameras on some properties so owners might catch a glimpse of coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other wildlife passing through their yards. With recent snowfall, there are an abundance of tracks providing more evidence of more elusive animal species.
A team of MRG scientists is available to visit your property to answer your questions or concerns and offer advice on a variety of topics including: plant and animal identification; wildlife management; natural history; invasive species; woodland, field and pond management solutions; and more. Click here for more information.
At the same time, Dr. Chris Nagy has been interviewing area high school students for MRG’s award-winning Wildlife Technician Program (WTP). WPT students start in their sophomore year and work with MRG staff on a relevant project in applied ecology research that benefits both the Gorge and the student by enhancing his or her academic experience.
Chris also has been busy deploying wildlife camera traps throughout the region as the Gotham Coyote Project (GCP) expands into Long Island. He and his students have been sorting through thousands of photographs and uploading them into a collective data base. GCP plans to make the data available to students and researchers from around the world to help them answer new questions and discover new knowledge.
Of course the cameras capture images of bobcats, fishers, foxes, and, we anticipate in the spring, black bears.
Speaking of black bears, Budd Veverka is leading a cohort of regional organizations in a study that, through the use of remote camera traps and public reports, will document spring bear activity, the overall occurrence of different individuals, and potentially trace individual bear movements between areas. This information will help us map areas most likely to be corridors for black bear movement and where potential interactions and conflict could be greatest. This information will be used to educate people about how to safely co-exist with black bears, allowing for positive interactions and limiting conflict.
Budd and Assistant Steward Catherine Ferreri really spend a lot of time outdoors, regardless of inclement weather. They are constantly clearing fallen trees, mending deer exclosures, preparing new trail markers, and monitoring the Preserve’s deer herd. They are eagerly looking forward to April 1 when the trails open again and they can recruit a volunteer trail crew, “Friends of the Trails.” Volunteer trail work days also are scheduled for April 1, 2017, and November 4, 2017, so please plan on joining us on those days.
Finally, we have been planning a series of public walks for throughout the year, including the popular Wildflower Walk, Source to Sound Watershed Tour, and Owl Walks. Other unique walks, similar to last year’s fascinating Hidden Habitats of the Southern Preserve walk, are scheduled for late September and early December (further details and calendar of events to follow in February). We look forward to having you join us on one or all of MRG’s walks!
Your donation to Mianus River Gorge helps us fulfill our mission to preserve, protect and promote appreciation of the natural heritage of the Mianus River watershed through land acquisition and conservation, scientific research and public education throughout the region. To donate, please click here or send your check to 167 Mianus River Rd., Bedford, NY 10506. Thank you!