I press my hands into the murky and fibrous sediment, searching. I feel a stick, then another, then something less stick-like that recoils and scurries away. I do my best not to do the same. I push my fingers down harder, encountering more resistance as I try to trace the pipe’s path through the clay, until – there! My index finger breaks through a pocket of silt, encountering the grate at the end of the pipe and I feel the first rush of pond water begin to flow.
For the first time in about two years, Brick Pond’s water level control system is working the way it was designed. After quite literally losing touch with the clogged pipe when the water rose to nearly unprecedented (non-flood) levels during the rainy summer of 2018, the Waterman Center has been working hard to restore drainage control. This is huge for two reasons – the trail system can now be used as a full loop as it was intended to be, and the ecosystem can be regulated to its best advantage.
A wetland like Brick Pond functions best and has most value to wildlife and plants when it is dynamic. It thrives on fluctuation in water level, ideally having high years, low years, and a whole array of in-between years. Lately, we’ve done very well with the high part and won’t need to revisit it for quite some time! It is thrilling to have another tool at our disposal to serve the wildlife that depends on Brick Pond, which is the preserve’s primary purpose.
I’m also excited by a mammoth volunteer effort to clear the now navigable trails so that the community can enjoy this highly productive ecosystem! Our trails are beautiful, passable, and are open 365 days a year. Look for additional improvements over the coming months! I invite everyone to come see how magical this place is at any time of year. Now is the time to gawk at wood ducks in their bright and cheerful nuptial plumage and witness glimpses of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds as they pass through.
Recent discussion about the trails in our community has sparked a resurgence of interest in using the trails, and volunteering to keep them clear. This has led to the creation of the Waterman Center Trail Steward Program, which gives residents the opportunity to organize under our leadership at specific properties like Brick Pond and work together, dividing the labor to make the work manageable and dare I say, enjoyable.
If you would like to join this growing movement, contact the Waterman Center at (607) 625-2221 or by e-mailing the Executive Director, Christopher Audette, at firstname.lastname@example.org.