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News from MRG
MRG is Grateful for Your Help
2017 has been a very productive year at Mianus River Gorge. Supported by generous donors like you, we have been able to continue our work to preserve and protect the land that comprises the watershed surrounding the Mianus River.
MRG recently completed two important restoration projects funded by Westchester Community Foundation, Land Trust Alliance, Patagonia, and other generous donors. These successful wetlands and wildflower restoration projects helped improve the biodiversity of the Gorge’s flora and fauna by removing non-native, invasive plant populations and replacing them with native plants, shrubs, and trees
With an eye toward permanent conservation solutions, MRG is finalizing several land acquisitions and conservation easements that will close by year end. We are grateful for your support of MRG’s commitment to acquire land for permanent conservation.
MRG’s Gotham Coyote Project and new Bear Activity and Occurrence Study help us understand how these large species are responding to change as well as impacting our area as they expand their range into new ecological and human communities. MRG biologists provide education to the broader community on coyote and bear ecology, teach us how to minimize risk, and share best practices regarding coexistence with coyotes and bears.
Once again, MRG’s award-winning education program provided a cadre of talented high school, undergraduate and graduate students with an unparalleled, experiential ecology research opportunity at the Gorge. With your help, MRG is training the next generation of scientists, critical thinkers, and conservation-minded citizens.
Lastly, if you have hiked our trails since Labor Day, we apologize for the partial trail closure. For many years the Preserve’s trails have crossed private property for a short section, but that access has been suspended. We are working diligently to ensure that visitors have access to the southern part of the Preserve. We promise to keep you updated.
Mianus River Gorge relies on your generosity to carry out its mission. Your donation has an immediate impact on helping us to protect our shared land and water resources, educate our youth, and manage Mianus River Gorge Preserve.
Winter Walk at Twin Lakes
Winter Walk at Twin Lakes
Sunday, December 3, 2017, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
On the final 2017 walk of our series exploring properties not normally open to the public, we will explore the Twin Lakes management unit of MRG, a small hilltop Preserve overlooking one of the twin lakes with distant views to the south and east. MRG acquired the property in 2013 to protect the Pine Brook Watershed, which runs into the Mianus River.
Join MRG Executive Director Rod Christie for a tour of this beautiful land that contains rocky ridgetops, upland forests, and unique flora and fauna all overlooking the two lakes.
RSVP to (914) 234-3455 or email@example.com to reserve your spot today. We will send you directions & parking instructions. Bring a friend!
Accredited Land Trust
Accredited land trusts demonstrate adherence to the highest national standards for sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship, which make an accredited land trust a sound investment.
Accredited land trusts are high-impact organizations and, over a five year period, show the following achievements as compared to eligible land trusts that are not yet accredited:
- Have protected 5 times more land (MRG protects over 1,200 acres)
- Are 5 times more likely to monitor 100% of their easements every year (MRG does)
- Are 5 times more likely to have a baseline documentation report for every easement (MRG does)
- Have significantly more money to defend and steward their holdings (MRG needs your help with this part!)
Accreditation gives our supporters, partners and landowners comfort and assurance in the knowledge that we are an ethical and trustworthy organization that follows rigorous standards and practices.
MRG is one of only 387 accredited land trusts from across the country. The accredited land trust network conserves 78% of all land trust conservation holdings in this country. We are proud to be a strong conservation partner and part of a movement that has the verified ability to protect millions of acres forever.
The Bedford 25 of 2017
Congratulations to MRG Executive Director Rod Christie for being named one of the “Most Dedicated, Most Creative, Most Influential” neighbors in Bedford. “The Bedford 25 of 2017” celebrates people whose contributions to the community make Bedford a very special place. Rod’s work at Mianus River Gorge helps ensure our natural resources are protected and conserved in Bedford and in surrounding communities. For the complete list, please click here.
Saturday, October 7, was a gorgeous day in the Gorge to learn about trees. MRG Preserve Manager & Staff Biologist Budd Veverka shared his wealth of knowledge with 35 tree enthusiasts during a “Tree ID” walk. We looked at leaves, bark, and the fruit of more than 20 different species of trees and shrubs, from American Basswood to Witch Hazel … from Pig Nut Hickory to Slippery Elm … from Black Cherry to Black Oak. Budd demonstrated the difference among asymmetric base leaves, double-serrated leaves, the “cat ear” leaves on Tulip Poplars, and more. He shared samples of different types of acorns, chestnuts, and hickory nuts.
We looked at bark that is shaggy (Shag Bark Hickory), plate-like (Chestnut Oak), patchy (Sycamore), a little flaky (Yellow Birch), and one that looks like “dinosaur skin” (Red Cherry).
Budd pointed out the trees that are dominant in different types of forest settings, including Beech, Red Maple, and Hemlock. We learned how to tell a White Pine from a Red Pine and whether deer prefer the acorns from Chestnut Oak, White Oak, Red Oak, or Black Oak. (They prefer White Oak acorns because they’re the most meaty and have thinner shells.)
Learning to identify trees isn’t as easy as you might think! But, with a little practice and a good guidebook, such as Eastern Trees (Peterson Field Guides) or The Sibley Guide to Trees, you might be able to tell a Sugar Maple from a Red Maple from a Norway Maple! You also can arrange a Wildlife & Habitat Consultation with Mianus River Gorge, and Budd will help you determine exactly what’s what in your own backyard.
2017 Wildlife Tech Application is up!
The Mianus River Gorge is currently accepting applications from the Class of 2020 for our Wildlife Technician Program (WTP). The WTP provides an opportunity for high school students to design, implement, and evaluate multi-year studies in the field of ecology within the framework of the Science Research in the High School curriculum. The WTP is part of a larger effort involving graduate students and local professional biologists who are working to conserve and protect our local natural resources.
Why should you send your students to the Gorge?
- The mentor to student ratio is low, usually 1:1. Students get in-depth, personal attention at each stage of their project.
- Students conduct research on important conservation issues from human-coyote coexistence to the use of bio-control agents to control the spread of exotics. Techs are not only students, but part of a larger research and conservation community.
- WTP research is getting noticed! Our student and staff research have been featured in Urban Naturalist, Forest Ecology and Management, the Journal of Wildlife Management, and the Westchester County Conservation Cafe.
Applications are due Nov 15. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Hidden Habitats of the Mianus Greenway
Nearly 30 people joined MRG Executive Director Rod Christie for “Hidden Habitats of the Mianus Greenway” walk on a recent blustery Saturday morning. Starting at the base of the Bargh Reservoir, open to us with special permission, Rod explained the history and process by which over 130,000 people benefit from MRG’s stewardship of the Mianus River Watershed. The group also saw firsthand the effects of the lack of rainfall on this important water supply.
From there, Rod led the group through the forest of the Mianus River Scenic Area (owned by the State of CT) and delved into the intricate relationship between nuts and other “mast” and all the wildlife in the forest. He explained how each layer of the forest depends on another, from the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil to the canopy at the top.
Participants were afforded an opportunity to walk through a forest that is not normally accessible to the public with its wetlands and scenic views of the Bargh Reservoir. “We had a wonderful walk, on land I was very eager to see. Rod was amazing, a wealth of information, there was not one question asked of him he didn’t know the answer for,” said an enthusiastic member of the group.
We look forward to seeing you on one of MRG’s unique and informative walks very soon!
Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Red Trail is closed at Point D
Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Red Trail is closed at Point D. As it has for many years, the trail beyond Point D crosses over private property for about 350 yards before continuing back on to Mianus River Gorge Preserve land. Unfortunately, the property owner has decided to suspend this privilege necessitating closure of the trail. Mianus River Gorge sincerely regrets the imposition this causes visitors anticipating a hike to the end of the trail at the Bargh Reservoir. Please be assured that we are working diligently to provide visitors with the best possible hiking experience.
What we’re working on this summer: Mianus River Gorge Wetlands Restoration Project
A major goal of MRG’s “Source to Sound Phase II” initiative, funded by Westchester Community Foundation and Patagonia, is to restore the compromised wetlands known as Lockwood Pond.
The Mianus River Watershed is comprised of nearly 40 wetlands systems whose health and functionality directly contribute to the cleanliness of the Mianus River, an important drinking water source for so many. In addition to the obvious visual cues, such as non-native invasive species, debris, and, in the case of Lockwood Pond, discarded construction materials, MRG used a scientific computer model to “score” the wetlands and help prioritize those most in need of protection or possible restoration solutions.
Lockwood Pond was in need of restoration. MRG met with wetlands consultant Beth Evans to determine a course of action. Because the site was so compromised by invasive phragmites, oriental bittersweet, porcelain berry, Japanese knotweed, and allanthus, to name a few, the most effective strategy called for their complete removal with heavy machinery. The transformation was immediate as trees once covered in vines were exposed again and fields once overrun by invasive knotweed were recovered. To ensure the seed bank also would be destroyed, preventing the regeneration of these aggressive invasives, we are currently solarizing the area using heavy clear plastic. Soil solarization is an environmentally friendly method of using solar power to control invasive species.
This fall, MRG will remove the plastic and replant the wetlands with native plants, shrubs, and trees to re-establish a healthy balance. To help ensure that invasives are kept under control, we will mow meadow areas and hand cut invasives that appear in the wetland areas.
Although MRG continues to pursue permanent conservation solutions through land acquisition / conservation easements we are continually mindful of our need to steward the lands we own or protect.
With this in mind, we will continue to restore MRG wetland areas identified in our “Source to Sound, Phase II” initiative and will work with private landowners on wetland improvement throughout the watershed.
To learn more about our land and water protection efforts, please explore the “Land and Water Protection” tab on our web site, www.mianus.org. For more photos, click here.
Wetlands Restoration Project Slideshow
Mianus River Gorge has embarked on a wetlands restoration project that essentially “starts from scratch” by removing the invasive species and replacing them with native wildflowers, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees.