Sunday April 24, volunteers, trustees, and friends gathered at the soon-to-be-open Overmountain Conservation Area in Ancram for a sneak peek at what is to become CLCs newest and biggest Public Conservation Area.
Everyone was able to finish waking up by enjoying hot coffee and breakfast pastries while hearing about some of the historic use of the property and how it came to be donated to CLC. The group then split into two separate guided hikes lead by Trustee Will Yandik and staff member Ian Schillinger-Brokaw. These hikes delved deeper into the natural history of the area highlighting some of the unique features and critical ecosystems found on the property.
We walked out to a deep farm pond that was believed to have been an old schist quarry where they talked about farm ponds contributions to biodiversity. Even though they are man-made farm ponds have the potential to provide habitat for important macroinvertebrates such as Dragonflys!!! From here we moved onto a conversation about grassland bird habitat and what CLCs plans are to support these birds that are struggling in Columbia County and the greater USA. We then proceeded on to talk about some of the great work that has been done by the Greenagers and SCA crews on the property. These groups in addition to working on trails created many natural deer exclosures to protect small saplings from deer browsing. Being entirely constructed from wood and sticks found on site they proved to stand the test of time and remained mostly un-damaged over the past two years. It was quite heartening to see that inside the protective barriers many small saplings were thriving. These exclosures are an astatically pleasing, economical and effective way to help protect small stands of young trees on your property and are pretty easy to make on a sunny Sunday afternoon!!
There were several unexpected finds during the day. One of the boldest Savannah sparrows any of us had ever seen graced us with his song for several minutes atop the gazebo as we were getting ready to leave for our hikes. We then also found many Goldenrod galls created by gallflys and the wasps that try and eat them, woodpeckers that sounded like “drunk monkeys typing on an old type writer” and even the skeleton of a deer that most likely fell prey to some of the many coyotes in the area.
The event served as a perfect sneak peek into the potential of this new Public Conservation Area and CLC cannot wait to officially open its doors to everyone September 21. We hope to see you there!