Sunday, November 22, 2015

Screw the Gator, we gotta get some of These!

We have a John Deere Gator that we use for trails maintenance.  It's The World's Greatest Wheelbarrow.  We can haul stuff, tow stuff, mow stuff, and maybe even carry an injured person out of the woods (EMS's job technically).  But it's a great tool and and we've gotten a lot of heavy duty use out of it.

 Here's Jim and Rich mowing the RecPath at Lane St this summer with The Gator.  It's a great tool for trail maintenance.  We've been hemming and hawing about the best time to get the water pump fixed on the Gator this Fall, what Martinka's schedule was, how to fit it into our mowing schedule, etc.

Screw the Gator, lets get a couple of these bad boys.  If we get not one, but two of these (you always need a back up), we could not only do trail work, but we could catch illegal ATV's on the trail.  Heck, if Bill can get the Gator airbourne imagine what he could do with one of these things (Rich, that is not an invitation to Photoshop).   Whatever you do, do not stick Bill's noggin on a Dukes of Hazard photo.

 I was getting a Stihl kit to add to my leaf blower so I could clean my gutters at home. I picked it up at CT Powersports in Wallingford, and they had enough ATV's and off road vehicles to look like the scene from a Mad Max Movie.  I was amazed.

I asked one of the guys there what these go for, ballpark.   He said "$9,000 and up, the sky's the limit".  These things not only have heat, they have windshield whippers, roll bars, and cup holders!  These rides are sweet.

And they had a whole building full of them, a big building, plus more outside!  Plus they had other outdoor toys like jet skis and motorcycles.  This place was impressive.

It's amazing how much money is being spent on these vehicles.  I say in jest that we should trade in our John Deere Gator, but it's been a great tool for us, and we would never get rid of it.  I wonder where are all the places that people ride these off-road vehicles and ATVs; do folks have permission to ride them legally there?  The City of Shelton has banned motorized vehicles from City streets, open spaces and parks due to all the damage and complaints.  So too has the CT DEEP at State Parks, Aquarion Water Company at their watershed property, UI, Eversource, Iroquois Gas at their ROWs, and most of the major farms and landowners at their property.

They look really cool, but where do people ride these expensive toys legally?  Maybe some of the people who sell these things could fund some privately-owned ATV parks where they can ride legally.  It seems like the market is there, the questions are where can they be ridden legally, and how high can Bill get one of them to go.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We Blew It!

Crisp Autumn air, blue skies, a slight breeze, the fragrance of newly fallen was a great day to be outdoors, removing Mother Nature's annual prank from our trails. This day we chose to clear our Bluff Walk trail that runs the length of Riverview Park, through the woods on the slopes below.
 Loaded for bear with back-pack leaf blowers and old-fashioned rakes, we set out to once again clear a path through the wilderness of Riverview Park

 Click on photos to enlarge

Bill, Eva, and Val work together as a team. In some stretches the leaves were almost knee deep and wet, which required muscle work with the rakes before the leaf blowers could do their job 

Richard and Bill meet up. Richard had started at the farther end of the trail and worked his way toward Bill

"Val, you're holding it wrong!". Actually, in many instances the leaves were so deep they had to be shoveled out of the way

 Bill and Eva insect some of their work. This trail overlooks the Housatonic, noticeable with the leaves gone from the trees

"It ain't over 'til it's over", as the late Yogi Berra would say. Some trees were still holding out as we finished. We'll get them next Fall!
Thanks to volunteers Eva and Val, and also to Trails Committee members Jim and Terry, who were out of camera range, purportedly working at the other end of the trail, but probably sitting in Dunkin' Donuts wondering what to have for lunch

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Upcoming Riverview Park Work Party

There were some good things that were done this weekend.  A Fall Clean Up work party was held at the Eklund Native Species Garden on Oak Valley Road.  Five volunteers got the place in good shape for the winter.  It's amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time with the right folks.  Visit the Eklund Garden Blog at the above link to see the before and after photos.

There was also a work party at the Soundview Community Garden.

And there were a couple of dedicated volunteers out cleaning and flagging the Basil Brook Bypass Trail.  Meanwhile there was a little graffiti removal and map restocking at some of trail kiosks going on.

Next Saturday there will be a work party on The Bluff Walk at Riverview Party.  See the work party page for more details.

We'll be clearing leaves, brush, etc.  Bring your non-slip boots to prevent rolling down the hill on all the acorns.

A lot of families were out enjoying the kiddie playground at the park on a nice Fall Sunday afternoon.  The Bluff Walk goes from one end of Riverview Park to the other, and has some nice views of the Housatonic River.  Hope to see you there.

Kutt the Krud (getting rid of graffiti)

2015 has been a bad year for graffiti.  It seems that every knucklehead with a spray can or sharpie wants to add his or her initials to something that we built this year.  It would almost be ok if it were good art, but this is not Banksy-caliber work.  When you go scribble all over something a volunteer, or an eagle scout, or your fellow neighbors has built and maintained on their own time then you're just being a jerk.  But we are getting better at removing the stuff.

The Krud-Kutter Graffiti Remover from Home Depot (in the paint section) is pretty good at removing most graffiti.  It took off paint marker from one trailhead kiosk without impacting the Lexan.  The Goof Off remover will take paint off, but it takes longer than the Krud-Kutter.  Goof Off 2 works faster, but it turns some of the plexi-glass hazy so we think it eating that away too.  The Krud-Kutter doesn't seem to harm the plexi-glass.

Someone spray painted this Paugussett Trail sign along Rt. 110 near Indian Well State Park.  Why I don't know.  It was a custom sign that took Connecticut Forest & Parks Association weeks to arrange with the ConnDOT.  And the sign is up high too.  I remembered to bring the Krud-Cutter, rubber gloves, and rags, but forgot I needed a step ladder.  Luckily I have long arms.

It took a few applications, but most of the paint came off.  Next time I'll have to bring a step ladder, or Manute Bol.

It's a little harder to remove from porous surfaces, like wood, but the Krud-Kutter works well with repeated applications.  Sometimes you need to use a wire brush.

The map box cleaned up well.  The Trails Committee is planning to fix up this Trail Kiosk at Rt. 108 this Fall.  In the meantime, please keep an eye out and if you see someone messing stuff up say something to them.  There's no magic elves who fix all this stuff, just your friends and neighbors who are trail volunteers.  And if somebody out there really wants to paint something, give us a call because we can use the help.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beating the Briers

This work party involved cutting back thick briers and weeds that were a potential hazard to hikers on a section of the Paugussett Trail in Shelton. 

Click on photos to enlarge

Heavy growth doesn't take long to overpower the trails if left untouched

 Because we do use some power equipment, we make hikers and runners aware that we are working here

Hunter and Hope use loppers and clippers to hack away at the overgrowth, the old fashioned way

While Jim goes modern and uses power hedge-trimmers to speed through the process
As does Richard with a hybrid weed-whacker/hedge trimmer combo

Mary, Hope, and Hunter take a break in the jungle
 Bob extended a lot of effort in freeing some of the desirable trees of choking vines

  John hacks away at the stubborn vines and briers

Eva risks thorns and briers making the trail easier to navigate

Many thanks to Eva, John, Mary, Bob, Hunter and Hope for giving of their time to help us out on this work party. Trail Committee members present were Jim, Richard , and Terrance (sorry, Terry, no photo!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More Notes from the Trails

In an effort to make using Shelton's Trails more interesting, the Trails Committee added a series of map boxes to a number of the entry kiosks this year.  In addition to maps there were small notebooks in the boxes so trail users could jot down their thoughts, wildlife observations, trail conditions, sketches, fishing catches, whatever they felt was interesting.

This was an experiment because we didn't know what people would write, or if they would write anything at all.  Some of the notes from the Hope Lake Kiosk were:

"4/17 THANK YOU!!! You are all GREAT, we have been fishing + hiking here + other lakes... ware are on Meadow St. + my oldest kids are now 17 + 15 - been doing it since they were toddlers + still do - have a 10 yr old too.  My son said there was info on Salmon in the area? But not here anymore.  He DID catch a 14" trout here last Sat. "

"It was quite plesint . I came her with my Dad! ME"

Nice, we have to fix up the Hope Lake Kiosk and will try to add some fishing info.

"5/31/15 Alex I was here very nice lake."

"June 22, 2015 I just moved to Shelton and who knew there was this lovely, peaceful oasis! Very nice! I will bring my husband by as he loves to fish... and my son. Jen  P.S. I left the pen for others to use."

It looks like we have to talk to the local realtors about Shelton's open spaces.  They may be able to sell a few more homes by pitching the town's greenways.  Bring the whole family and enjoy.

"6/30/15 Cool dude, we found you.  Tony & Sal  9:58 AM Nice place to hike & Mountain Bike - Dude"

"7/10/15 Great fishing spot & hiking trails D, R, V"

"Just hiked around some of your trails woods were excellent, was here before - Mark W from Ansonia"

"Loved the view and serenity, God bless"

We're glad that everyone had a good time.  Oak Valley Trail around Hope Lake was one of the earliest trails in Shelton.  And one of the prettiest too.  So whether you're a first-time explorer, long-time veteran, or tourist checking out the area - Enjoy Shelton's Open Spaces.

Keep those notes coming and we'll try to keep the map boxes stocked.  (and please leave the notebooks in the map boxes - Thanks S.T.C.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Shelton Day, Eh

A raw and gnarly Saturday that felt like we were headed to northern Canada turned into a beautiful Fall Sunday for Shelton Day on October 4, 2015, and that brought out the crowds.

What had been forecast for possible showers turned into a warm afternoon when the sun was out and we might have had our biggest turn-out ever for Shelton Day.

Our booth was strategically positioned again between Dunkin' Doughnuts and Bricks and Barley Tavern thanks to Sheri's planning.  Bill noted that there seemed to be a number of new folks who just moved into town and were really interested in what we had to offer.  We had a record number of people who signed up to be on our e-mail list for upcoming hikes, events, and work parties.

We had a good time talking to all our friends and neighbors, trail volunteers and curious newcomers, tourists and local politicians stumping for office.   Thanks to Officer Wooden for coming up and letting us know about keeping the Pine Lake Kiosk filled with maps. We probably hit a record number of maps and other trail and open space literature that we handed out.

Rich had a display of all the fun activities of the past year and was giving away information on the websites and Trails Blog. Some of things people wanted to know about were which trails were handicapped accessible or bikeable (Riverwalk, Shelton Lakes Recreation Path).  Which were good for pets (Paw Path by the Dog Park, Nells Loop Trail, others).  Where you could go fishing (Silent Waters, Hope Lake, Gristmill Trail on Mill Street, Boehm Pond Trail).  Where was a rugged trail (Paugussett Trail).

One of the topics of discussion was how safe are the trails given the article yesterday about the flasher that the Shelton Police caught back in May.  Long Story Short : the trails are very safe and enjoyable, and we had a fun time coming up with different ways to describe the chase when the Police arrested the idiot.

We also talked about The Adventures of the Shelton Bear, bobcats, coyotes, turkeys, Eklund Garden, Birchbank Mountain, our farms, and all the other open space features that Shelton is known for.   

Here's Bill, Rich, Sheri and Jim working the booth.  It's tough taking good photos from bright sunlight into shadow, one of the downsides to the nice Fall afternoon.

We got to sample some of the food and beverages offered by all the booths and local businesses.  At times the Trails Committee was forced to go into "Executive Session" to check on the progress of the Giants game.

Rich was trying to make sure everybody got all the maps they needed and letting them know about the hikes.  Jim was willing to trade some of his sure-fire, can't-miss fishing tips in exchange for signing up for volunteer work parties.

Our trails are all maintained by volunteers, so if you enjoy using them consider coming out to help maintain them at one of our trail work parties; they can be a lot of fun.

It was a great day, and we were very successful in reaching out to a lot of local residents; some new and some old-timers, about Shelton's trails and greenways.  Thanks to the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club for letting us participate in another Shelton Day.