Special Habitat Areas
In July 2016, a microburst—a sudden down draft generated by a severe thunderstorm—toppled trees and opened a hole in the canopy of a three and a half acre-sized parcel at Aquetong and River roads. This canopy opening created a great opportunity to expand and develop the Preserve’s meadows at the front of our property as a result of the increase in available sunlight. As of 2021, this area has become a fully functioning new meadow with both wet and dry areas to maximize the potential for plant diversity and striking visual displays.
Clearing the damaged area began in late 2016. Tree debris, as well as invasive weeds, were removed and the area mowed. In 2017, herbicide for weed control was carefully applied to minimize runoff into the soil and waterways.
In the fall of 2018, the Preserve began addressing potential erosion issues in several ways. The meadow was seeded with winter rye to help stabilize the soil and mulch socks were installed to keep the soil from eroding off-site. In early January of 2019, straw mulch was applied to the entire site.
By spring of 2019, the meadow had been seeded with a mix of seeds derived from local germplasm. A portion of the seed germinated that same growing season, while other seeds remained dormant until spring 2020. By summer 2020, we observed significant blooming wildflower species and the increased prevalence of pollinator insects and birds. By 2021 the meadow was fully established, though not yet fully mature. Throughout the initial five-year opening phase of the project, constant vigilance against exotic competitors is necessary. Removing unwanted plants will become more difficult and will need to be conducted through manual pulling due to their proximity to newly-added natives.
On September 15, 2021, the Preserve held a grand opening dedication of Aquetong Meadow as a newly-opened resource for the public, including mowed trails, way-finding, educational signage and breathtaking views.