Written by Star Carter
posted on October 13, 2010 22:37
The trees are brilliant shades of gold and red, and the smell of cinnamon and sugar floats down from the Burrville Cider Mill to remind me that fall is here. The summer flew by so quickly! It was my second year working on the River, and my first with the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT).
My co-workers warned me that June seems to skip right into September and everything in between is just a blur. How true it is, and yet so much happened in those weeks! I spent more time outdoors than indoors and met many adventurous nature lovers from all over the US and Canada. TILT had over 400 people attend its TILTreks and Talks program that included more than a dozen opportunities for people to get outside to play and learn about the Thousand Islands Region.
The birding trips were phenomenal this year. TILT led a trip to the Perch River State Game Management Area off Route 12 to look for Henslow’s Sparrow. We didn’t find the elusive little bird, but we did come across an amazing conservation area with plenty of other exciting sights. The wetland areas featured Osprey nests, a Great Blue Heron rookery, Grebes, Mallards, and New York State threatened Black Terns. Deer were picking their way through the marsh to the water, and muskrat lodges dotted the pond. The view was amazing and a perfect place for bird watching.
The bike Treks, led by Elaine Tack, have always been popular, and the Gananoque to Brockville ride was especially fun. We met up with two Canadians from the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust who pointed out interesting features along the Thousand Islands Parkway to Butternut Bay. A support vehicle driven by Dan Tack followed the bikers and provided a ride back to Gananoque. The Wellesley Island bike trek was special this year because it included a tour of Cross Island Farms. Elaine puts thought and planning into each summer’s ride to offer something unique and fun for everyone.
A large part of my time was spent on our Kids Trek program. One of our events this year was called “Field Ecologist for a Day” and it was my favorite Trek of the summer. More than 40 kids came out to Zenda Farm Preserve to learn about all aspects of ecology. Representatives from SUNY Potsdam, ESF, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Save The River set up stations around the preserve with fun activities and live animal exhibits. The kids had a chance to touch and interact with everything from minerals and aphids to fish and snakes. The adults got into the science fun too, and even I couldn’t resist holding the corn snake for a few minutes!
TILT and the Indian River Lakes Conservancy teamed up this summer for a spectacular kayak Trek on Grass Lake. If you have never been to the lakes, you are truly missing out on some beautiful scenery. Grass Lake can be difficult to find, and we had to hang a life preserver on the last unmarked turn from the road to help guide people to the boat launch. We had almost 30 kayakers in the water on that gorgeous Tuesday evening. Mark Scarlett led the group past an impressive granite rock face to the Mark A.F. Baker Island Preserve. We were excited to see a Common Loon pair with two young along the way.
The best part about living along the river is the variety of things to do outside, and as the “year-rounders” know, the fun doesn’t end with the drop in temperature. Summer may be over, but when the seasons change there are plenty of ways to enjoy the fresh air. TILT offers winter Treks like Bald Eagle watching, snowshoeing, and skiing.
Of course, coming from Hawaii, my blood seems permanently thin and I always feel cold. Last year I went cross country skiing for the first time, and after one loop around the ski trail I had stripped down to a long sleeve tee-shirt. That is the secret to keeping warm - get outside and move! I plan to take advantage of the new LoisJean and John McFarlane Trail at Zenda Farm Preserve and ski on my lunch breaks. The last few months were fantastic and I have really enjoyed my first year at TILT. Though I will miss the warm weather, I plan to enjoy autumn, embrace winter, and look forward to next summer!
By Star Carter
Star Carter is the Director of Land Conservation for the Thousand Islands Land Trust. Originally from Hawaii, she is now a permanent resident of northern New York. Always drawn to water and wildlife, she feels lucky to be working on the beautiful St. Lawrence River. Star has a degree in Animal Science from the University of Hawaii, and has recently started her Masters program at Penn State. Last year Star worked for the Clayton Island Tours and contributed Summer Eco-Tours for TI Life in October 2009. In addition to her responsibilities at the Land Trust, Star was one of the organizers for this year’s Clayton River Festival, which took place in June.
This summer the Thousand Islands Land Trust celebrated its 25th year of conserving the scenic, recreational, natural and historic character of the Thousand Islands Region. Today TILT, as it is known, works along the St. Lawrence River from its start at Cape Vincent, east (down river) about 30 miles to the Chippewa Bay area. More than 8,000 acres of natural lands are protected either by conservation easements or as land donated or purchased by the organization. Be sure to check the TILT website for the date of the next TILTrek adventure.