Volunteers plant hundreds of trees and shrubs to help transform Smith Richardson into prime habitat
May 29, 2018 – The transformation of the H. Smith Richardson Wildlife Preserve into a first-rate coastal habitat for birds and native plants is making great progress. Well over 100 volunteers, led by Connecticut Audubon Board members Charles Stebbins and Jerid O’Connell, planted 450 trees and shrubs at the preserve in late April.
Volunteers included the Staples High School’s Service League of Boys, or SLOBs as they call themselves. They saved the day!
Jerid O’Connell said: “When the two tractor trailer trucks arrived Saturday with all the native trees I was so excited. We had a total of 150 trees and 300 bushes to plant.” But the call for volunteers on Saturday went largely unheeded. “By the end of the day only a few plants were in the ground.”
Jerid continued: “Sunday morning comes and 60 SLOBS arrive! I watch as they divided into groups and took charge. They were planting 20 trees at a time! It was amazing. By 12:30 everything was planted!
“They asked what else they could do and they cleared brush till 1 p.m.. I know many people think these volunteers are doing some token clean up, but I am forever in debt to the SLOBS for coming through and working so hard!”
The work days were just the beginning. Over the next several years, about 1,200 trees and shrubs chosen for their value to birds and other wildlife will be planted. The project also includes creating a two-acre pollinator meadow of native wildflowers.
The H. Smith Richardson preserve consists of three sections, all on Sasco Creek Road in Greens Farm. In addition to the 36 acres now being restored, the preserve includes a 24-acre Christmas Tree Farm, and 12 acres that Connecticut Audubon recently restored into a meadow. The restored meadow is now home to Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and Eastern Kingbirds. Bobolinks – one of the state’s rarest grassland birds – have even stopped by during migration.
Restoration of the 36-acre parcel is funded by a Long Island Sound Futures Fund grant, along with individual donations.
All photos by Scott Kruitbosch, unless otherwise noted.