2018 Annual dinner

Date for our annual dinner is Monday, March 26th at 6pm. Come join us for a light fare of soup and chili. We will hold short business meeting then move onto future plans for the park.

Do you have a skill set that you might be willing to volunteer to help Pine Hill Partnership out?? We have all kinds of small projects that do not involve shoveling dirt.

Come bring your ideas!

Hope to see you there!

Wild Times at Pine Hill Park

Enjoy Tom Estill’s fall report on park critter activity!

Wild Times at Pine Hill Park Fall Summary, 2017

The first day of Fall, 2017 found the forest very DRY and quiet. Acorns were falling, 2 beavers were seen swimming at Rocky Pond, a few gray tree frogs were calling, the only bird seen was a pileated woodpecker, and gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunk were busy collecting acorns.

A few days later, a near record high temp. was recorded on Sept. 23rd and the 24th. More birds were seen including pileated, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, numerous blue jays,

black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, red-eyed vireo, and magnolia warbler. At Muddy Pond could be found about 2 dozen Canada geese, one osprey, a small flock of wood ducks, a belted kingfisher and painted turtles basking on a log. 2 LARGE black snakes were seen at Rocky Pond and white admiral and painted lady butterflies could be seen flying about.

At the end of Sept., I was still watering the American Chestnut seedlings on a regular basis due to the lack of any substantial rainfall. The forest was quiet, with Gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunks still actively collecting acorns.

The first week of Oct. found the forest wildlife typical for this time of year, but also some unusual sightings. There were about 200 Canada geese and a half dozen wood ducks at Muddy Pond, black-capped chickadees, blue jays and white-breasted nuthatches commonly seen, and my first wooly bear caterpillar of the season. Acorns were still falling.  And I was  surprised to see an Eastern garter snake up near Rocky Pond. Fall foliage was a bit of a disappointment this year. We had a dry, warm summer and early fall, with only one night reaching those cold temperatures which play such an important role in the fall foliage.

Mid-October found the number of falling acorns drastically reduced. A small flock of hermit thrushes and another small flock of white-throated sparrows were seen along with a larger flock of yellow-rumped warblers. They were flying through the forest ahead of the first major cold front moving into the area from the North.

The third week of October found acorns still falling, fall foliage was at its peak, but not near as impressive as years past, about 150 Canada geese were seen at Muddy Pond, and the population of forest birds was now taking on the typical numbers and species you usually find in the forest during the winter months. Once again, I was surprised to see an 8 inch garter snake on Crusher Road.

The beginning of November finally found cold temperatures descending upon the land. Fall foliage had come to an end, trees along the 3 lower Giorgetti trails had lost almost all their

leaves, robins could be seen migrating through the forest in large numbers, Canada geese were flying overhead, and tufted titmouse were now flying in small flocks, typical of what you would find in winter.

On Nov. 11th, temperatures reached the low 20s, black-capped chickadees(some of which were very curious and would fly right up to me) were flying in flocks, and a few spots along the shoreline of Rocky Pond were covered with a thin layer of ice. The whole perimeter of Muddy Pond was also covered in a thin layer of ice. I was particularly impressed with the “acorn fall” this year. Since first visiting the forest in 2012, never have I seen so many acorns on the ground. Should be a good year for deer, squirrels and chipmunks.

The last week of November found the forest covered in a thick layer of fallen leaves. Most trees have lost their leaves and only a few birds would be seen on my walks. Both ponds were covered with a thin layer of ice, with the exception of the very center of the ponds. Many trees along the shores of Rocky Pond showed recent beaver activity. It’s hard to believe the increase in size of the East side beaver den on Rocky Pond. This time last year, it was a small pile of a few small branches. Now, it’s massive.

By the second week of December, loose associations of tufted titmouse and black-capped chickadees could be found throughout the forest, and both ponds were completely covered over in a thin layer of ice. Water level at Rocky Pond is the lowest I’ve seen it for a long time.

Beaver dams are intact, so I know it’s just been the lack of precipitation which had contributed to the low level.

Finally got an appreciable snow mid-December. About 6 inches of snow on the ground, with MANY deer tracks throughout the forest. You could also find numerous piles of leaves where deer had been looking for acorns underneath the snow. Hairy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmouse and crows flying overhead were a common sight. Both ponds completely covered with a now thickening layer of ice, with the exception of small open water areas near the west side beaver den on Rocky Pond, and the east side beaver den on Muddy Pond. Gray squirrels seen in the forest, but no chipmunks.

That’s it for this issue, please stay on the trails, and enjoy the Wild Times At Pine Hill Park.

Find more of Tom’s reports here.

A few trails will be closing soon

As we are in the midst of the freeze thaw cycles. We have a few trails that we will be closing off for winter. This will happen the week of November 20th. These trails stay closed until spring is well under way.

Droopy Muffin (steep hill) between Intersections 30 and 30A will close, Lichen Rock and Exit Strategy. We do this to protect the trail tread from ruts when it’s soft and folks are riding. There is always a good possibility that Voldemort will close in late winter once the surface water starts running.

Please respect our trail closures. Our volunteer groups work really hard to have a great trail system so please don’t make work for them by rutting trails up.

Thanks! Remember rubberside down.

Please no leaf removal

Folks here is an excellent video on why we do not remove leaves from our trails.

Reasons why we do not remove leaves from Pine Hill Park trails and why our bridges do not have hard wire mesh on top.

We tried leaf removal for 2 years in a row about 6-7 years ago. By July our trails are all ball bearings. Means people are slipping and sliding around on ball bearings all summer long which isn’t any fun. Leaves help hold our trail tread together. A lot of this has to do with our soil composition compared to other areas. In the spring by leaving the fall leaves on it protects our trail tread from freeze thaw cycles which lets us open up earlier.

The other issue are leaf berms on the downhill side of trails and clogging our drainage’s up. Means water runs down the trail tread which is washing away our good dirt and creating more drainage’s issues. The other downside is leaf blowers blow all the dirt off the trail tread. We work WAY too hard to move dirt on the trail tread to have a leaf blower come along and blow it off again.

Why our bridges do not having hardware mesh on them. The bridges that we have seen in Vermont that have hardware mesh on them are flat there are no curves/bends or twists. Most of the bridges in our local area are made out of pressure treated lumber which is slippery when wet. Our decking on the bridges in Pine Hill Park are composite material which we believe is not as slippery when wet like pressure treated lumber. We do not want people falling on the hardware mesh which would hurt even more than falling on the composite decking.

Yes we know the leaves make it more challenging to walk, run or ride but by leaving the leaves on the trail our system is more sustainable in the long run.

Thank you for your cooperation.