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Avalonia Close-to-Earth-Day 2022 Walk
April 23, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
photo credit: Bruce Fellman
Celebrate Spring, Earth Day, and Clean Water at the Benedict Benson Preserve
One of the critical precursors of the passage of the Clean Water Act, the landmark federal legislation whose 50 years of making a difference we celebrate throughout 2022, is Earth Day, the consciousness-raising holiday for the planet that began in 1970. As part of Avalonia’s ongoing tribute to the CWA, join naturalist and guide Bruce Fellman as we wade into moving waters, figuratively, if not literally, at the Benedict Benson Preserve on Saturday, April 23rd, shortly after Earth Day, from 10 a.m. until noon, in North Stonington to watch the refuge’s wetlands and its centerpiece stream come to life: a tribute to wise stewardship.
In keeping with our theme, we’ll pay close attention to the area around Lantern Brook, a delightful woodland stream that flows through the heart of the preserve and is wonderfully photogenic as it tumbles down a boulder field left behind by the glaciers that shaped this land. The area around the brook is paradise for botanists interested in mosses, ferns, lichens, and wildflowers, and while there are certain to be such stalwarts as Wood anemones, a number of violets, and Marsh marigolds in bloom, there’s one botanical gem known as the hepatica that we’ll scramble up a favored hillside to seek out. Hepaticas thrive in specific, rather “sweet” soil conditions unusual in our woods, but Benson has the right stuff in one area.
The Preserve features a typical Southern New England post-agricultural-abandonment upland forest dominated by oaks, beeches, birches, and hickories, many of them fully mature. Some are home to striking Pileated Woodpeckers, while others support a wide array of hardwood-forest songbirds, the most intriguing of which is the Cerulean Warbler. This stunning bird, which is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Connecticut, has been seen and heard at Benson and the surrounding area, and is one of the treasures we’ll be looking for as we walk the approximately mile and a half trail system in search of signs of spring.
The trailhead for the Benedict Benson Preserve is located at 100 Swantown Hill Road in North Stonington. A small parking area is on the West side of the road and there’s more parking on either side of Swantown. For more information and to register, visit the Events Calendar of Avalonia’s website: avalonia.org/events/ Please note: parts of the trail are pretty rugged, so while my pace is always family-friendly, the terrain, particularly our scramble up a rocky hillside in search of wildflowers, might not be suitable for small kids and the occasional elder. You’ll want to wear waterproof hiking boots, and trekking poles might be a good idea, too. Bring water and an energy bar, and, of course, binoculars and cameras. Don’t hesitate to call or email: 860-599-4867, or firstname.lastname@example.org.