August 2020 E-News

Weathering the Storms 

                                                                                                                                                                Photo: Brian E. Hagenbuch                                                                                                                                                      

Steep Rock has been weathering many storms over the past few months. In March, when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down most of the state and closed our offices, we vowed to keep our preserves open as a place for you to get outside and recreate. We continue to make tough decisions but will implement all necessary steps to prioritize the health and safety of our staff, visitors, and volunteers. Last week, Steep Rock was hit by Tropical Storm Isaias and the fierce winds, a stark reminder of the awe-inspiring power of Nature, left much of the area without electricity. We lost count of the number of trees broken or felled on our trails in Hidden Valley, Macricostas, and Steep Rock Preserves. But within 12 hours of the storm’s abatement, staff, trail managers, and volunteers began assessing damage, clearing debris, and removing downed and dangerous trees. Our 43 miles of trails remain open, but we advise caution while hiking and visiting. Regardless what type of storm we face, Steep Rock Association will make sure our preserves offer a safe and healthy environment for which to visit, hike, observe nature, take photos, and wade in the beautiful Shepaug. These storms have also stretched our budget as we have had to adapt and respond to rapidly changing conditions at significant cost. As a nonprofit organization whose operations are funded entirely through donations, we count on your support to help us through stormy periods. To assist our efforts, please consider making a donation today. For up-to-date information on trail conditions, visit our website. In addition, please report any down trees or dangerous trail conditions you observe in our preserves on our online trail report form. Thanks for your support and be safe out there.

Enjoy your hike!

Brian Hagenbuch, Ph.D., Executive Director

Tunnel Road

Tunnel Road in Steep Rock Preserve is open to vehicle traffic Monday through Thursday for the remainder of the season. The road will be closed during weekends. Although Tunnel Road is a town right-of-way, Steep Rock and Town of Washington officials have agreed to open the road during weekdays to provide access to community residents who have limited mobility and want to enjoy our trails and the river. Because of the high volume of weekend visitors, the road will be closed to vehicles during weekends. Thank you for your patience and consideration. 

Improvements at Macricostas Preserve


Photo: Michael Giapponi         
While nature does most of the work making our trails so beautiful, our staff certainly play a role in cultivating and nourishing that beauty. These timber and earthen steps recently installed by SRA staff and interns at Macricostas Preserve help to stabilize an eroded hillside and improve access into the Preserve’s vast and breathtaking meadows. Stay tuned for more exciting improvements over the coming months, including an expanded boardwalk and all new Viewing Platform. 

Finding a Balance with Beaver

E:\March 2020\Beaver Sign\WLCD Drawing (Cropped).jpgPhoto: Rory Larson                            

Interested in beaver? Or perhaps ecologically and ethically responsible solutions in addressing beaver activity that conflicts with human interests? 

If so, then Macricostas Preserve is the place to go. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to see these aquatic rodents in Meeker Swamp. While you’re at the crossing on Meeker Trail, don’t miss SRA’s latest solution to prevent flooding of the bridge and boardwalk as a result of beaver dams.

A water level control device has been installed that permits water to flow through the dam unbeknownst to beaver. The inlet is placed far from the dam in deep water and surrounded by a metal cylinder that excludes beaver from getting close enough to detect the flow of water. By raising and lowering the outlet at the dam, the water level can be manipulated to minimize the threat of trail flooding, maintain enough water to encourage continued beaver occupancy, and maximize wetland habitat.

A Thank You to Our Administrative Interns


Photo: Kelly Sarandrea  and Bradford Jones        

I just want to take this moment to thank both Michelle Randall and Eva Jones for their time and positive energy during their internships with us at Steep Rock Association (SRA). 
Michelle was the creator of this months e-news that you received today. She has been an amazing office assistant with the day to day functions of SRA.
Eva has been creating, overseeing, and distributing all of our social media content. She was with us 100% remotely for her internship. 
Thank you so much ladies for all that you have done for us during your internship here at Steep Rock Association. We wish you all the best as you return to school.

Kelly E. Sarandrea, Office Manager

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