Assistant Director of Land Management David Gumbart watches over The Nature Conservancy’s 63 preserves in Connecticut.
Here are some of his notes from the field:
My team and I walk through and around each preserve regularly to make sure there are no safety issues or encroachment. Often this means picking up odd items that people have left behind. We’ve found enough car parts to build a new car!
Monitoring by Air:
This summer we’ll be doing large-scale Phragmites removal at 14 different tidal marsh sites in the lower Connecticut River. Phragmites is an invasive reed that out-competes native plants and pushes out marsh birds that need those plants to survive.
Periodic helicopter flights are one of our most valuable tools in monitoring how far the reed has spread.
Guarding Shorebird Nests:
Piping plovers typically arrive at Griswold Point in Old Lyme in late March. We mark off nesting areas with string fencing and signs, then put up wire fences around individual nests to keep out predators. It’s one of the coolest parts of my job.
Once we begin fencing, the clock starts ticking; we need to install the fence, leave the area and see the adult plover return within 20 minutes to ensure the nest hasn’t been abandoned. We haven’t lost one yet.
One of the big threats to the Eightmile River right now is invasive Japanese stiltgrass. We’re working with towns and land trusts to report locations, and we also take river walks in late July to pull new plants. If we do nothing, every road and stream is going to be covered with this stuff in 10 years. By acting now, we have a real chance of controlling it.
Preserves don’t always have obvious borders, so we sometimes build our own maps using aerial photography, topographic data and global positioning system (GPS ) coordinates.
These maps help guide us in the field and plan our conservation efforts.