From our State Director, Terry Sullivan:
Are you feeling stressed out? I know how it is. In this age of smart phones and the 24-hour news cycle, it can be hard to find space for quiet reflection.
When I need to unplug, I head to the woods or the beach -- to a Nature Conservancy preserve to be specific. I have come to believe that a walk in the woods is the best therapy, and the latest science is proving me right.
Outdoor magazine ran a fascinating article, Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning. It describes 10 years of Japanese research (and examined centuries of cultural tradition) demonstrating that visiting the forest measurably lowers one’s blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels. In one remarkable study, research subjects saw a 40% boost in their immune system – a result not duplicated in a gym setting. The benefits are so powerful that the Japanese government has established 48 Forest Therapy trails, with plans to double that number in the next 10 years.
With that in mind, let me offer a couple nominations for Forest Therapy trails here in Rhode Island. First is the Dundery Brook Trail in Little Compton. Winding through a gorgeous coastal forest, this boardwalk trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible and perfect for families. This is a place that you will quickly fall in love with. Second, if you haven’t been to Tillinghast Pond in West Greenwich, you owe it to yourself to take a walk around the Pond Loop. Alternating between forest and field, the path will show you a tranquil side of Rhode Island that you never knew existed.
Happily, both options are featured among our 2013 Nature Tours. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to join us – and while you’re there, take a look around and breathe deeply!
Click here for a downloadable version of the Nature Tours 2013 brochure of programs listed below.
1. Spring Hike at Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve
Saturday, May 25, 10:00 am, Exeter
Cuttyhunk Brook is The Nature Conservancy’s newest Rhode Island preserve, opened to the public in June 2012. The trail winds through classic South County woods, featuring giant boulders, stone walls, and the fascinating remains of an historic homestead. This 2.5-mile hike will be a great way to kick off the Nature Tours program and celebrate the return of summer songbirds. To register for this event, contact Cheryl Wiitala at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Summer Program Series at Goosewing Beach
June 1 – August 31, Little Compton
Beach walks, summer sunset walks, children’s explorer programs, family days, and more will be offered by The Nature Conservancy and many local partners throughout the summer. Fantastic opportunities to observe nesting piping plovers and their chicks!
3. Birding in the Borderlands
Sunday, June 9, 8:00 am, West Greenwich
At more than 2,000 acres, the Tillinghast Pond Management Area offers serenity and natural beauty that rank among the best in southern New England. Since the preserve opened in 2007, Conservancy staff have observed close to 90 bird species on the property. We’ll explore the open fields and the forested pondshore, allowing time for new discoveries. Bring binoculars and your favorite bird guide. To register for this event, contact Tim Mooney at email@example.com.
4. Block Island Summer Nature Walk Programs
June 17 – August 23, Block Island
Walks run Monday through Friday featuring incredible scenery, birding, and scavenger hunts – great for children! Sponsored by Block Island Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy. All pond-based activities co-sponsored by the Committee for the Great Salt Pond.
5. Meadow in Twilight at Francis Carter Preserve
Friday, August 9, 7:00 pm, Charlestown
The Carter Preserve is one of South County’s largest and best-loved protected areas. Wind down the work week with a relaxed, two-mile stroll around the meadow. As the songbirds settle down for the night, we’ll listen for katydids, whip-poor-wills, and other summer sounds. The setting sun is sure to highlight the deep reds and golds of this gorgeous native grassland. Bring a flashlight and binoculars. To register for this event, contact Tim Mooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Fall Foliage Walk on Dundery Brook Trail
Saturday, October 5, 10:00 am, Little Compton
If you haven’t explored the Conservancy’s new Dundery Brook Trail, here’s an opportunity to check out this amazing boardwalk, guided by one of our naturalists. These wetlands will be bursting with color – a lovely backdrop to all the natural features that make the Bumblebee Preserve special. Autumn is a great time to discover the rich diversity of this beautiful coastal forest. To register for this event, contact Cheryl Wiitala at email@example.com.
7. Full Moon Walk at Lime Rock Preserve
Friday, October 18, 6:00 pm, Lincoln
The Nature Tours program concludes with a visit to The Nature Conservancy’s Lime Rock Preserve, under the light of the full Hunter's Moon. Just ten minutes from Providence, this preserve provides an important refuge for wildlife and features some of the oldest trees on Conservancy property in Rhode Island. We’ll walk the two-mile trail around the Manton Reservoir and listen to sounds of the evening: perhaps a hoot of an owl, scurry of a critter, or the soft babbling of the Moshassuck River. Bring a flashlight. To register for this event, contact Cheryl Wiitala at firstname.lastname@example.org.