Getting Ready for Spring
Volunteer work days in February gave Elachee volunteers and staff the opportunity to begin getting the Nature Center ready for spring.
Meadow Work Day – February 9, 2019
Elachee volunteers worked to knock down the standing vegetation in the meadow area near the Nature Center. They appropriately pruned a variety of native plants and helped with hiking trail maintenance tasks.
In the meadow area, Elachee purposely leaves the dead vegetation to stand through fall and winter to provide habitat, food and as a natural aesthetic. Insects use the standing stems and existing thatch from prior years to over-winter, and some species use the plant material as a nesting spot for larvae or eggs. Katydids, for instance, will place their eggs in the stems of goldenrod. Removing or mowing the material would negatively affect the insect population that was over-wintering.
In preparation for spring, volunteers knocked down dead stems with sling blades, allowing the material to stay on-site as thatch. This is important because thatch functions as mulch to control erosion and contributes to the development of a healthy soil network that insects also use for laying their eggs. Simply knocking down the vegetation provides the opportunity for important pollinator species to survive.
During this work day, volunteers also contributed to the hiking trail system by replacing a bench and by removing fencing that had reached the end of its lifecycle.
Honeysuckle Sweep – February 16, 2019
Volunteers conducted a honeysuckle sweep to remove the invasive Japanese honeysuckle Lonicera japonica from along the Dodd Trail. Volunteers logged 30 hours of hard labor, made easier thanks to warmer weather and rain the previous day that soften the soil so they could pull these plants and their roots. This activity is one of many identified by Elachee’s Volunteer Trail Crew.
This dedicated team has been hard at work since the start of the new year conducting maintenance sweeps of the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve’s trails. These efforts also involve installing and maintaining water bars to protect the trail system from erosion, maintaining trail corridors from encroaching vegetation, removing blowdown and hazardous trees, and cleaning off bridges and trails.
Volunteering at Elachee
Volunteers positively impact every aspect of Elachee operations! We identify projects, schedule and provide supervisory oversight for individual volunteers and groups seeking community service opportunities. Due to the seasonal nature of our needs and limitations on the number of individuals required for scheduled projects and/or public program events,