My second day with the WLCT
~ By Julia Elmasry
August 29, 2021
By Julia Elmasry | 2021 WLCT Spring Intern
On Sunday, May 2nd, 2021, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust hosted another Stewardship Sunday at the Spectacle Lane trail. This event started at 1:30 and ended around 3:00. As it rounded 1:25 on a gloomy afternoon, we were worried that no one would show. This trail needed more work than we had thought, and having just me, Eli, David, and some other board members would not be nearly enough hands to complete the job. This trail was barely visible from the road; it was hidden by overgrown bushes, an unraked trail of leaves, and fallen trees. The path also included a marsh area, so we needed to help clear it safely to protect the animals living there.
As the clock turned 1:30 pm, the sun began to shine and cars came from all directions, a man even came on his bike! Once we tallied all of the volunteers, we were close to around 30, the best outcome we have had so far this year. We were all eager to get started, so we had a brief introduction before diving in. Eli and I identified three invasive plants while at this site. These included Euonymus, Barberry, and Garlic Mustard.
Garlic mustard, originally from Europe and Asia, has invaded the United States. This plant is a threat because it spreads its seeds in many different ways, but most commonly through big gusts of wind. Unfortunately, like many other invasive plants, garlic mustard can take over habitats and push out native plants. It emerges in the early spring, much sooner than when many native plants bloom. As a result, when native plants are ready to grow, garlic mustard has already taken over the area and blocks the sunlight from feeding the other plants. To avoid this from happening and to get rid of this pesky plant, one should try to pull it up before the flowers turn to seeds.
As the day progressed, we encountered garlic mustard quite a bit, but with our knowledge, we were able to remove it properly. We only expected to get a little way into the trail, but by the end of the day, we were able to clear more than half of it. There were many fallen trees from storms we had throughout the year that were blocking the way of the trail. Nevertheless, we our volunteers with saws were able to clear all the dead trees, and we used them to line the pathway. Additionally, others learned how to correctly identify the invasive plants and remove them from the area. Eli was in charge of repainting the trail markers, which was crucial to avoid visitors getting lost. Without the help of people from our community, it would have been very challenging getting as far as we did.
To see the progress of our work, feel free to stop by and walk the trail yourself! The trail is on Spectacle Lane, Wilton, CT, 06897. Here is a before picture of the trail, clearly needing some work from the last time it was touched a whole year ago!