A wonderful beginning to our "First Saturdays" series of organized outdoor activities!
Dr. Jim Utter led us up the red trail at the Pawling Nature Reserve from the trailhead by French Lake. Along the way to the vernal pools he explained some of the habit of the red squirrels and history of the pine grove. Dr. Utter had set up traps at the two pools we visited on the top of the ridge and we were able to see a large mole salamander and the adult form of the red-spotted newt (these guys metamorphosize twice and have magnetic skin that tells them how to get home!). The importance of vernal pools has recently become more recognized. These pools form in the spring but dry up by the end of summer. This means that no fish can live in the pools, allowing the frogs and salamanders that use them as breeding grounds to have high reproductive success rates that they cannot achieve in the a permanent pond or lake. Most of us would have the same instinct if we had one of these in our backyard: make it a permanent pond or fill it in. Unfortunately the depletion of vernal pools can decimate the frog and salamander populations. Some towns have begun to zone against the destruction of these pools but they remain, for the most part, unaddressed wetlands.
After the pools we went back down to Quaker Lake road and moved to the main trailhead where we hiked in for about 5 minutes to a small cave-like rock shelter. Judy Moberg accomplished the incredible feat of relaying a geologic and human history of the area from 1.3 billions years ago to 1776 in about 30 minutes! We looked at points (aka arrowheads) that were used by Native Americans in the area to hunt musk ox and mastodons. Cool.
Thanks to FrOGS and PNR for partnering with us on today's event. Join us next month as we venture to Nellie Hill Preserve and Stone Church. For details, stay tuned to our events page, become a fan on Facebook or join our email list.