The Wyndham Land Trust has preserved and protected land in Windham County for 44 years. Over that time we have faced many challenges, ranging from suburban sprawl to the changing weather.
According to NASA/GISS, global surface temperature data shows that the world is rapidly getting hotter; 18 out of the last 19 years were the hottest years on record (since 1880). This heating is leading to changes even here in Windham County, resulting in warmer temperatures, invasive pests, erratic weather, and earlier growing seasons.
Both 2015 and 2016 saw severe summer droughts here in Windham County. These droughts stressed many trees and encouraged an explosion of gypsy moths because it was too dry to allow the growth of the moth’s natural pathogen (Mainaiga Fungus). This combination led to the death of many trees, especially red oak and white pines.
In the spring of 2017 it became clear that many trees had died in portions of the Wyndham Land Trust’s Gellert Preserve. About 90 acres of mostly red oak and ash trees were completely dead, and we decided to harvest the dead trees. The harvest reduced further insect infestations, and the modified habitat provided many benefits. The increased sunlight on the forest floor allows many young trees and shrubs to grow.
Most of the forests in Connecticut are mature forests and lack a healthy understory, which is important for many nesting birds. We expect to see an increase in birds and other wildlife using the preserve after three to four growing seasons, including bird species such as Wood Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Towhee, Black and White Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Blue-winged Warblers are some of the bird species populations that will likely increase.
In addition, to encourage public access, some of the logging roads will be maintained as a new hiking trail connecting Ayers Road to the Airline Trail. The tree harvest on the Gellert Preserve is now completed with cleanup and repairs to the Airline Trail underway.