What We’re Working on this Winter

As the trails rest for the winter in the Mianus River Gorge Preserve and Taylor Preserve, MRG staff continue their work to advance important land and water protection efforts throughout the region.

Executive Director Rod Christie has been working this winter with land owners, donors, and community partners throughout the region to facilitate the purchase or gift of land and/or conservation easements. With several transactions in the works, we look forward to sharing the details in the very near future.

Rod continues to share his knowledge and expertise with local and regional organizations whose work amplifies the Mianus River Gorge’s mission. He is a contributing member of Planting Westchester, Bedford 2030, and more. Rod also continues his work with the Hudson to Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership (H2H RCP) as a member of the Steering Committee and co-chair of the Land Working Group. Together, the work of these organizations helps move us toward a healthier environment for all of us.

The main task that is keeping us indoors this winter is working on the re-accreditation process through the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that Mianus River Gorge and other land trusts meet high standards for land conservation. Mianus River Gorge has been an accredited land trust since 2010; accreditation is awarded for a five-year term.

Director of Research & Education Chris Nagy and Director of Land Management Budd Veverka also have leadership roles in collaborative partner organizations. Chris is chair of the Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA), a regionally coordinated environmental monitoring network. Budd is our representative to the Lower Hudson PRISM where he is a member of the Steering Committee, chair of the Invasive Species Prevention Zone Committee, and liaison to the NYS Hemlock Initiative.

While the pandemic has somewhat curtailed MRG’s education programs for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, Chris Nagy has kept the students engaged through video conferences and phone calls. Mentoring the next generation of natural resource scientists is the key to the success of the education programs that have been assessed in real-world accomplishments: awards and degrees received, published research papers, subsequent post-graduate endeavors of our former students, and on-the-ground contributions to better management of preserves like the Mianus River Gorge Preserve.

Budd and Preserve Steward Jean-Luc Plante have been outside in the winter weather as much as possible. They’re checking property boundaries, cutting woody stemmed invasive shrubs and vines, and repairing deer exclosures (fencing to keep deer out) within the Preserve. They are also quick to remove from the trails trees and limbs downed by winter storms both in the main Preserve and at the Taylor Preserve in Stamford, CT.

Several years ago, the Board of Trustees was instrumental in raising funds to enable MRG to embark on the first phase of a multi-year effort to save the hemlocks. As we head into the fifth year of the initiative, staff are monitoring the health and recovery of the over 2,000 ancient hemlocks in the old-growth forest prior to another possible round of treatment against the destructive hemlock woolly adelgid. At the same time, MRG and NYS Hemlock Initiative scientists are working together to establish a population in the Gorge of the Laricobius nigrinus beetle, a promising biocontrol that feeds on the hemlock woolly adelgid.

We recently published the 2021 Calendar of Events, which is available here on our web site, www.mianus.org. MRG’s popular walks feature the ecology and natural history of different habitats throughout the area and their importance to the health and resilience of the Mianus River Watershed. Other events include the ever-popular Bird Walk, Owl Walks, and Tree ID.

Remember, MRG’s Wildlife & Habitat Consultations are available to you, free for the first visit. We can set up wildlife cameras on your property to catch a glimpse of coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other wildlife passing through your yard. Or we can visit your property 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, so please call (914) 234-3455 for more information.

Enjoy the rest of your 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!

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