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News from MRG
Westchester Community Foundation Awards Renewal Grant
Renewal Grant from Westchester Community Foundation
Thanks to a generous renewal grant from Westchester Community Foundation, Mianus River Gorge will continue its work of Protecting Biodiversity in the Mianus River Watershed.
Over the course of the last two years, Mianus River Gorge successfully completed its Source to Sound initiative in two phases. The main focus of the Source to Sound Initiative was wetlands evaluation and analysis to determine health and function, followed by a comprehensive wetlands restoration project.
The 2018 grant addresses an inter-connected, multi-level challenge that aims to restore the health and improve the diversity of the old-growth forest in Mianus River Gorge. From the mycorrhizal fungus living in the soil to the canopy of eastern hemlock trees up to 100’ tall, this project aims to restore an ecological imbalance that threatens their very survival.
In addition, MRG has an opportunity to expand its successful native species garden. The goal is to re-introduce native wildflowers, plants, and shrubs to restore parts of the Preserve where invasives have been removed to restore biodiversity. With funding from Westchester Community Foundation, MRG will build 10 more raised beds with animal-resistant covers; create a “wet garden” dedicated to growing rare wetland plants like turtlehead, cardinal flower, and marsh marigold; and plant a variety of native shrubs from locally collected seed to be used in restoration activities.
Westchester Community Foundation’s (WCF) mission is to develop and manage philanthropic resources, and to distribute them in a way that is responsive to donor interests and community needs. The Foundation actively promotes charitable giving on behalf of the area’s nonprofit organizations. WCF is a division of The New York Community Trust, one of the largest community foundations in the country, with assets of approximately $2.6 billion.
Opening Day Delayed
What a long winter it’s been! We’re still working hard to clear the trails of debris from the most recent Nor’easter. Not only that, there is a lot of snow in the woods that hasn’t yet melted. We’ll give the trails another week to dry out a little bit and plan to welcome you on Friday, April 6.
Application period for 2018 RAP grant now open
The application periods for our 2018 Research Assistantship Program (RAP) for graduate students has begun.
Each year, MRG awards a RAP grant to fund a graduate-level study that investigates environmental challenges in urban and suburban ecosystems. RAP students are awarded a grant of $5,000/yr for two (Master’s) or three (Doctoral) years.
More info and the application forms for RAP are here . RAP apps are due May 15. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Chris Nagy at 914 234 3455 if you have questions.
Applications for 2018 Summer Interns
The application periods for our 2018 College Internship in Suburban Ecology (CISE) for undergrads has begun.
The CISE program offers summer or semester internships to college students and recent graduates who are interested in learning about the unique challenges facing urban/suburban natural resource managers. Through a variety of research and land management projects, interns are trained in the skills needed to pursue a successful career in the environmental sciences. College interns work individually and collaboratively with RAP students, and also serve as additional mentors to WTP students.
What We’re Working on this Winter …
What We’re Working on this Winter …
Executive Director Rod Christie is always thinking about land conservation and protection in and around the Mianus River Watershed. This winter, two conservation easements added nine more acres to the land we protect and another 14 acres will be added in February through donations and acquisitions. Rod continues to work with other land owners, donors, and community partners to facilitate the purchase or gift of land and/or conservation easements, and hopes to have more good news on that front in the very near future.
At the same time, Rod is particularly excited about the success of MRG’s wildflower restoration project. In 2016, MRG transformed an existing garden into a native species nursery with hopes of growing wildflower species from seed. It worked! With the help of staff and student interns, Rod collected, sorted, and planted seeds from Trillium, Columbine, Dutchman’s Britches, and other now rare wildflower species into the raised beds built by a local scout troop. This winter, we are building ten more raised beds in anticipation of growing additional species of wildflowers, herbaceous plants, and even shrubs. These native species will be re-introduced in the Gorge, especially where invasive species have been removed.
Speaking of invasive species, MRG was awarded a NYS DEC grant for “Rapid Response & Control of Invasive Species” in the old-growth forest. Director of Land Management, Budd Veverka, is strategically planning the removal of Japanese barberry, Mile-a-minute vine, phragmites, and Japanese stiltgrass, to name a few. He’s presently lining up volunteer work days and scheduling the Invasive Task Crew (from Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, or PRISM) to help with this monumental task.
With black bears being a hot topic in the area, Budd also has delivered several talks about MRG’s on-going Bear Study. MRG and several partner organizations–through the use of remote camera traps and public reports–are documenting spring bear activity. This information will help us map areas most likely to be corridors for black bear movement and see 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. For some great photos of the bears, please see our media page.
We’ve also been trying to build our wildlife camera inventory to support the expansion of the Gotham Coyote Project (GCP) onto Long Island. And, as part of MRG’s Wildlife & Habitat Consultations, we’ve installed cameras on some properties so owners might catch a glimpse of coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other wildlife passing through their yards. MRG scientists are available to visit your property, too, 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. We’re scheduling appointments now for the spring, so please click here for more information or call (914) 234-3455.
Director of Research & Education 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 students by enhancing their academic experience. Chris is preparing the application for MRG’s next cohort of summer interns for the College Internship in Suburban Ecology (CISE) program. As always, we anticipate an impressive applicant pool and continue to be impressed by the students we ultimately select.
Winter weather that keeps us indoors more than we’d like is the perfect time for planning board meetings, workshops, talks, and for devoting time and attention to the regional work MRG does with the Hudson to Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership, (H2H RCP), Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA), Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), and Bedford2020 Land and Water Taskforce, to name a few.
Finally, we have been planning a series of public walks for throughout the year, including the popular Owl Walk, Tree ID, and several walks highlighting property protected by Mianus River Gorge open to the public by guided tour only. Further details and the 2018 calendar of events will be available in February.
Enjoy the rest of you winter, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in the spring!
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!
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.
Bear Event January 10
Wednesday, January 10, 7pm, Lecture: Bears in Your Backyard with Mianus River Gorge’s Preserve Manager Budd Veverka at the Katonah Village Library.
Join Bedford Audubon for an in-depth look at a potential new arrival to backyards around our region, black bears. Budd’s long-time study of the species and first-hand experience along with his outgoing and personable nature will make this an enjoyable presentation. From walking your dog to feeding the birds, learn how to peacefully co-exist with these large charismatic mammals. Discover the research being conducted by Mianus River Gorge and their regional partners to map black bear occurrences and movements in Westchester, Putnam, and Fairfield Counties. Get an understanding of black bear biology and why black bears are moving into our area. Free. No need to register—we’ll see you at 7 for refreshments and the lecture will begin at 7:30. Please bring a reusable mug to reduce your ecological footprint.
Remember to Donate Before December 31
Making a gift to Mianus River Gorge this holiday season can be a gratifying experience that also will help us fulfill our mission in the coming year. Whether you choose to make a cash gift, a gift of securities, or join The Anable Society by indicating a bequest or giving a major gift for land acquisition, you will benefit if you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return. For more information, see the “Get Involved” tab on the Home Page. THANK YOU!
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.