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News from MRG

Donation adds 13 acres to MRGP

Thanks to an extremely generous donation from Susan Heller, Mianus River Gorge (the Preserve) has just added almost 13 acres of sugar maple woodlands along Mianus River Road. This beautiful land was once the site of an orchard in the late 1800’s and now is a mature sugar maple grove. Laced with ancient stone walls and other remnants of its past use, this maturing forest provides an important buffer for older forest lands within the interior of the Preserve.

Ms. Heller’s family at one time owned much of the land along this part of Mianus River Road, and her parents gave donations of vital pieces of land to the Gorge in the past. “It is extremely rare to receive such a gift in this day and age when land is worth so much,” said Rod Christie, Executive Director of Mianus River Gorge. “We are extremely grateful to Susie for this gift and promise to take as good care of it as she and her family have for so many years. It is truly a spectacular addition to the Preserve.”

Walkers and other people enjoying Mianus River Road are very familiar with this land and can now take comfort in knowing that its beautiful vistas can be enjoyed by all for years to come.

2018 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.

Students can learn more about our program and download our WTP application at our website.

Applications are due Nov 15.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Volunteer Work Day Sept. 29

Come on out to help keep the Preserve in good condition, both for hikers and its unique flora and fauna. Your help is needed to do some trail work and some invasive species removal work. This work is both important and gratifying as you can see the results of a job well done!

Saturday, Sept. 29, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Bring a lunch if you plan to stay the whole time & work gloves if you have them.

Bring a friend!

RSVP to info@mianus.org or call (914) 234-3455.

CISE Students Wrap Up at the Gorge

2018 College Internship in Suburban Ecology (CISE) students wrap up at Mianus River Gorge

Each summer, Mianus River Gorge offers a highly sought-after internship for undergraduate college students with an interest in ecology. Under the tutelage of MRG staff scientists and graduate research assistants, the interns contribute to the Gorge’s on-going research in and around the Preserve.

This year, four students were selected among a pool of talented applicants from colleges across the country. Mianus River Gorge hosted Scott Campbell of Ursinus College, Amandine Tooth of University of British Columbia, Heather Williams of University of Vermont, and Jake Spinella of SUNY Geneseo.

Mianus River Gorge is engaged in several research initiatives and on-going stewardship of the Preserve and its environs. The CISE students contribute greatly to our efforts during their time spent at the Gorge.

For example, the students assisted Chris Nagy and Budd Veverka with wildlife camera deployment for the Gotham Coyote Project and the Bear Study. “We traveled around the county to collect data from cameras that hoped to find black bears. We learned about urban / suburban ecology as we traveled down to the NYC area to collect data from camera traps that show evidence of animals like coyotes which are adept at living in these conditions,” said Scott Campbell. They also managed the Turtle Study that aims to restore a previously successful nesting site and protect it from predation using a solar-powered electric fence that allows turtles to pass underneath. Wildlife cameras monitor predators, breeding, and possible poaching activities.

The students assisted Ph.D. candidate Zach Gajewski, our RAP student from Virginia Tech, with his Frog Study. Zach’s research focuses on the distribution of the pathogenic chytrid fungus that affects frogs and other amphibians. They also helped Nicole Fusco with her study of the two-lined salamander population in the Mianus River Watershed and found another species, the four-toed salamander, quite uncommon in the Gorge.

The college students also spent time focused on their own projects, including monitoring the health of the hemlocks in the forest; reconfiguring the exclosures to allow predators to pass through while keeping deer out; estimating the population of the Gorge’s deer herd; and evaluating the Deer Management Program. “I researched the geology of the area to create a sign that explains the structure and mineralogy of the Hobby Hill Quarry. I learned computer programs like R and GIS as well as lots of useful information about post-graduate life,” said Jake Spinella.

Stewardship is always a major focus of college students’ internships here. They helped remove invasive weeds and vines; helped repair the deer exclosures; pitched in during Volunteer Days; and helped build steps and retaining walls along the trails. They got dirty and sweaty but remained cheerful and enthusiastic contributors to our efforts to take care of the Preserve.

Mianus River Gorge’s Research & Education program is the bellwether for like-minded organizations in the region. Students get a hands-on ecology research experience, meaningful field experience, learn best practices in data collection, interpretation and presentation, and better understand the path for further study or a career in the sciences.

MRG raises funds to pay the college interns a very modest stipend. If you would like to donate to the Research & Education program and help support an intern, please visit our donation page. Thank you!

Summer Reading

Welcome to the old-growth forest! Walking through the Gorge, many say, is like visiting “the forest primeval” — deep, dark and old, more like the venerable redwood forests of the west than the second-growth forests so common in the east. Visitors get the feeling they are stepping back in time and getting a rare glimpse of what it was like when Native Americans lived on this land.

If you’d like to learn more about the complex world of old-growth forests, you might like Joan Maloof’s newest book, “Nature’s Temples.”

Do you prefer fiction? “The Overstory: A Novel” by Richard Powers is a candidate for the Man Booker Prize and a popular book club choice. “The science in this novel ranges from fun fact to mind-blowing, brought to us by characters — some scientists, mostly not — who are sweet or funny or maddening in all the relatable ways.”  (NYT Book Review.)

If you’re someone who orders books on Amazon, please use smile.amazon.com and choose Mianus River Gorge as the organization you’d like to receive a small percentage of the amount you spend.  Thank you!

 

Gotham Coyote Project Update

In a new phase of Gotham Coyote Project, researchers are piloting satellite telemetry in the Bronx. Visit MRG’s media page or click here to read an article in amNewYork about coyotes fitted with radio collars as part of a joint effort by the Gotham Coyote Project and the New York City Parks Department.

 

MRG Welcomes 2018 Summer Interns

 

Scott, Amandine, Heather, and Jake (2018 CISE)

Welcome to our College Internship in Suburban Ecology (CISE) Summer Interns

Amandine Tooth completed her degree in applied animal biology at the University of British Columbia. She will be starting graduate studies in the fall in Sweden where she will be studying animal ecology.

Amandine will be dedicated to helping with the annual deer survey and looking at alternatives to using camera traps. She will, of course, be helping with the ongoing work of invasive species management, trail maintenance, and other projects as the summer progresses.

Heather Williams is a rising senior at University of Vermont where she is a biology major.

Heather and her fellow interns are mentored by Mianus River Gorge staff while learning about the unique challenges facing urban/suburban natural resource managers. She will be working on hemlock monitoring with Chris and Budd and learning GIS technology at the same time.

Jake Spinella is a rising senior at SUNY Geneseo where he is majoring in geology.

Jake will be assisting with a variety of MRG’s research and land management projects and learning the skills needed to pursue a successful career in the environmental sciences. He will also focus on MRG’s deer management program (DMP).

Scott Campbell is a rising junior at Ursinus College where he is majoring in environmental studies.

Scott and the other interns work in the exclosures in the Preserve that keep deer out to preserve biodiversity and serve as protected sites for plant reintroduction.

Once again, the interns were chosen from yet another impressive group of students who applied through a competitive application process. Thank you to the generous supporters of Mianus River Gorge’s award-winning Research & Education Program.

Mianus River Gorge Acquires 22 Acres

MIANUS RIVER GORGE ACQUIRES 22 ACRES TO ADD TO ITS PROTECTED PROPERTIES ALONG THE MIANUS RIVER

Mianus River Gorge (MRG) is pleased to announce it has added 22 acres of beautiful property to the land it protects within the Mianus River Watershed. With the help of an anonymous foundation that contributed significant funding, Mianus River Gorge, using funds raised and a donation from the Stamford Land Conservation Trust, purchased 22 acres in Stamford, CT. This new land will be owned and managed by MRG and named the Taylor Preserve.

This spectacular hemlock/oak woodland with mountain laurel understory is surrounded on three sides by the Mianus River and provides crucial protection where the east branch of the Mianus meets                                            the main stem of the river.

The land parcel also is home to rare species of flora and fauna, and is relatively free from invasive vines. Mianus River Gorge will create a management plan to ensure the Taylor Preserve remains a healthy and vital part of the Mianus River Greenway that stretches from the Mianus River Gorge Preserve to Long Island Sound.

For many years, Mianus River Gorge has worked on creating an open space greenway that stretches from the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in New York State to Cos Cob in Connecticut where the Mianus River empties into Long Island Sound. Designated an official greenway by the State of Connecticut in 2001, the Mianus River Greenway is a riparian corridor whose primary goal is the protection of the water quality of the Mianus River and the preservation of the adjacent uplands. The greenway extends north with the river into New York and includes properties owned by the State of Connecticut, municipalities, and private conservation organizations, including the Mianus River Gorge.

Long on Mianus River Gorge’s list of critical properties to protect, Taylor Preserve creates a bridge between protected land owned by Stamford Land Conservation Trust and the State of Connecticut in the southern region of the Mianus River Watershed. The southern region of the watershed is a focal point of Mianus River Gorge’s conservation plan as the Mianus River is a drinking water supply for over 130,000 residents in Greenwich and Stamford, CT, and Rye, Rye Brook, and Portchester, NY. The Mianus River has a AA Special rating and also is a breeding site for populations of alewife, blue-backed herring, and brown trout that run up the lower river to spawn in fresh water.

Upon the finalization of the management plan and installation of signage, Mianus River Gorge looks forward to inviting the community to enjoy this new Preserve.

For more photos, please click here.

 

Bird Walk in the Gorge

(Un)Successful Bird Walk?

MRG’s Budd Veverka and Bedford Audubon’s Tate Johanssen led a group of bird enthusiasts on an early-morning bird walk in the Preserve on Saturday, June 2. The morning dawned humid and windy, so the birds weren’t calling much. When it’s windy, birds tend to stay farther in on the branches, closer to the tree trunk, making spotting them more of a challenge.

Brightly colored Scarlet Tanagers were lower down on the trees than usual, so spotting them was a bonus. We saw a good number of Ovenbirds and Louisiana Waterthrush, both in the warbler family. But we missed out on other varieties of warblers usually abundant in the Gorge, such as Worm-eating warbler, Yellow warbler, and the Common Yellowthroat.

Thank you Xylem!

Xylem Volunteers Help MRG Get a Jump on Spring Projects

Invasive Species Control—Thanks to a volunteer group from Xylem’s Watermark Outreach Program, we made a dent in the ongoing battle with invasive plants and vines that constantly threaten the Preserve. Volunteers helped pull and bag garlic mustard to prevent the plants from re-seeding. They also pulled and cut oriental bittersweet, which seems particularly prolific right now, winged euonymus, Japanese barberry, multi-flora rose, and Tartarian honeysuckle.

 

Wildflower Restoration Garden—Building on the success of the project started in 2016, and with help from a grant from Westchester Community Foundation, MRG recently added 10 new raised beds to the garden. Another volunteer group from Xylem helped line the new beds with weed-resistant plastic, fill them with rich soil / compost, and weed the older beds. The beds contain a variety of native plants grown from seed that will ultimately be re-planted in the Preserve. They will be planted in deer exclosures and in areas where invasives have been removed.

 

Building Deer Exclosures—Two teams of Xylem volunteers worked on erecting a permanent deer exclosure and smaller, temporary exclosures to protect young plants. Exclosures are typically constructed of black wire mesh fencing that blends into the scenery, and are high enough so that deer can’t jump over them. The Exclosure Trail located at the far end of the parking is open for visitors to see what a healthy forest floor looks like in the absence of hungry deer.

 

Mianus River Gorge is grateful to the Xylem volunteers who pulled vines, hauled dirt, and carried heavy rolls of wire into the forest. We are able to accomplish so much more with the help of wonderful volunteer teams like the Xylem employees. THANK YOU!

 

The mission of Mianus River Gorge, an independent, not-for-profit organization, is 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.
Mianus River Gorge, 167 Mianus River Road, Bedford, New York 10506     914-234-3455     info@mianus.org

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