The West Windsor Town Forest on Ascutney Mountain continues to be a beehive of activity. MostÂ recently staff from Ibex spent a day eradicating invasive honeysuckle bushes and relocating a section ofÂ trail. They were so enthused that when it was time to switch from honeysuckle destruction to trailÂ building people just wanted to keep working on the invasives, even though it was considered harderÂ work.
More volunteer help on the Town Forest came in the form of Dartmouthâ€™s Environmental Studies 50Â class. Fourteen students worked for 9 weeks with UVLT and the West Windsor community (includingÂ Ascutney Outdoors and Sport Trails of Ascutney Basin (STAB)) to analyze issues around increasing theÂ recreation on the mountain to revitalize the community economically. The final report includes: caseÂ studies with other existing recreation resources; an analysis of the benefits from building a smallÂ basecamp as a focal point for recreational use, including designs and basic cost estimates; looked atÂ place-based outdoor education for elementary school students, including potential lesson plans;Â creating communication platforms to promote community-based conservation, recreation andÂ education, which included a video of individuals speaking to why the mountain was so important toÂ them.
UVLT was most closely involved in the students’ assessment of the environmental and user experienceÂ impacts of the recreational uses, including developing ways to monitor use levels and invasive speciesÂ locations. While high tech tools like STRAVA heatmaps and iMapInvasives may be in our future, andÂ developing reliable ways to monitor the recreation use impacts on the Town Forest will be key toÂ successful monitoring of the easement we hold there, the real work of land stewardship is still theÂ dedicated volunteers who lend their muscles and brains to UVLTâ€™s mission. Many thanks to DartmouthÂ and Ibex for helping us succeed.