Do Something Good For The Town and The Earth — The OCC Wants You!

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Aug 192017

The Orange Conservation Commission is seeking new members to help care for and preserve the land on the all of the Town-Owned properties for which the OCC is responsible—Paul Ode Nature Trail (High Plains Community Center), Wepawaug (off Mapledale Rd), Wrights Pond (Old Grassy Hill Rd), Housatonic Overlook (Cedar Grove Rd/High Ridge Rd), Racebrook Tract (Racebrook Rd), Ewen Farm Preserve (Lambert Road/Tyler City), and Turkey Hill Preserve (Derby-Milford Road).

Residents who have an interest in and/or experience in environmental issues, environmental programs, natural resources, conservation, preservation and land management are encouraged to apply for open positions on the Conservation Commission by calling the office of the First Selectman, Jim Zeoli at 203-891-2122, Ext. 737 or e-mail: jzeoli@orange-ct.gov.

Breakfast With The Birds … Sorting Out Bird Songs At Turkey Hill Preserve

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May 262017

The Orange area is blessed with many wonderful Open Spaces. Orange Conservation Commission will host a bird walk with Frank Gallo, an expert birder and former Senior Naturalist with the Connecticut Audubon Society, on Saturday, June 17 starting at 8 a.m.

He has handpicked Turkey Hill Preserve to explore birding opportunities due to its unique ecological characteristics. Frank will guide walkers to see a variety of species of seasonal birds.

Discover the basics of birding by identifying birds by their various sounds using a variety of sound resources. Gallo will teach you tips, tricks, and even pitfalls in identifying birds by sound. Is that an oriole or a tanager singing? Come find out, as we delve into the secrets to birding by ear. To

To register make out a check for $20 to “Town of Orange” and send to Orange Parks Department, c/o Sharon Ewen, 617 Orange Center Road,  Orange, CT 06477.

In the event of rain is predicted, the walk will be canceled and will be held the following day, Sunday, June 18.

Cancellation notification will be posted on the Conservation website and Facebook

Equipment: Binoculars and sturdy walking shoes.

Meeting place: Parking lot Turkey Hill Preserve. GPS address: 700 Derby Milford Road, Orange.

For more information, e-mail Sharon Ewen at sme71@yahoo.com

Volunteers Needed For Racebrook Tract Trail Cleanup

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May 152017

It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to hiking and enjoying the Open Spaces of Orange. To prepare for the new season, the Orange Conservation Commission (OCC) has scheduled a Trail Cleanup Day at Racebrook Tract for May 20 from 10 a.m. to noon (rain or shine). The OCC is asking for volunteers to join Commission members in this effort to do some light maintenance work of clearing the trails of litter and small branches.

The OCC is asking for volunteers to join Commission members in this effort to do some light maintenance work of clearing the trails of litter and small branches. Volunteers will gather at 10 a.m. at the Lean-To Shelter at the entrance, water will be provided.

Volunteers are asked to bring gloves and hand tools such as pruning shears, branch loppers, and rakes. Racebrook Tract is located on Racebrook Road, Orange just North of the Rt. 34 intersection (GPS Address is 839 Racebrook Road).

The OCC  also would like to remind bicycle riders that the Racebrook Tract re-opened to riders on May 1. Riders should remain on OCC-designated trails.

Visit the Orange Conservation Commission on Facebook.

Don’t Miss The Owl Prowl On Nov. 18

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Nov 072016

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-29-32-pmCome join the Orange Conservation Commission under the stars for the Annual Owl Prowl at the Ewen Farm Preserve  on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. 

Frank Gallo from the CT Audubon Coastal Center will offer a brief introduction about Owls followed by a guided walk.

This Preserve has an identified area that is known for a variety of Owls (pictured here) which we will walk around on the tour.

The Commission wants to give you the experience of seeing and/or hearing wild owls. Species that are most often heard are Barred and Eastern Screech-Owls, but Northern Saw-whet Owls, Great Horned Owls and even Long-eared Owls also are possible.

This walk is recommended for ages Kindergarten and up and those who are capable of walking over uneven terrain.

Space is limited and based on first come first serve basis. Reservation deadline is Monday, Nov. 14. Cost is $25 per Family: $15 single: checks should be made out to Treas. of Orange and send to: Town of Orange Conservation Commission 617 Orange Center Road. Orange CT 06477.

For additional information, e-mail sme71@yahoo.com

DRESS WARMLY!!! Boots, down jackets, and wool sweaters, hats and mittens are not overkill for Standing still

listening for owls. Bring your flashlights too.

The walk will take about an hour followed by Hot Chocolate and Tea.

Again there are a limited amount of spots for this exclusive event so it is based on first come first serve basis.

Remember to dress appropriately based on weather.

Parking for the Ewen Farm Preserve is on GPS 648 St Johns Drive.


Take A Hike on CT Trails Day June 6

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May 212015

338317-photo3On Saturday June 6, the Orange and Woodbridge Conservation Commissions will celebrate “Connecticut Trails Day” by jointly hosting a hike at the Racebrook Tract in Orange, CT.  All members of the community are invited to attend this fun outdoor event via a free guided walking tour. 

The event will be supervised by members of the Conservation Commissions from 10 am to 1 pm, and there will be a 1-hour-guided hike starting at 10:30 am.

The Racebrook Tract encompasses nearly 400 acres of open space in the towns of Woodbridge and Orange and provides pristine near-wilderness exploration and passive recreation to all who visit it.  The Tract was purchased from two farmers in the early 1900s by the New Haven Water Company, and the stone walls crisscrossing the Tract are the original farm fences.  Under the direction of the Yale School of Forestry, the Tract was one of the first professionally managed forests in the country, and because periodic timber harvests were conducted by the water authority, the forest is delightfully open today. 

Two relatively level and circuitous trails start in Orange and cross into Woodbridge.  The longer trail is just over 2.5 miles.  The trails pass through expanses of mixed hardwoods and impressive stands of 100-year-old white pines.  Just off the parking lot, there is a handicap-accessible boardwalk going through some interesting wetlands.

Because of its large size, the Tract contains a wide variety of natural habitats and wildlife.  Streambelts, forests, wetlands, meadows, and brush make the area attractive to a variety of animals and songbirds.  Many species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit the Tract along with avian predators such as the great horned owl.   

The Orange and Woodbridge Conservation Commissions were formed to advise their Board of Selectmen on the preservation, development, and conservation of natural resources, including water resources, within the Towns of Orange and Woodbridge, respectively. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 11.02.34 PMThe joint OCC-WCC Racebrook Tract Walk offers an opportunity to take a guided tour of this beautiful open space, meet with your neighbors, and enjoy a lovely New England spring day in the woods.  All members of the community are invited to attend this fun outdoor event.  Children are encouraged, and comfortable and sturdy shoes and clothing are recommended.  Walkers are encouraged to bring water, and refreshments will be served at the end of the hike.  Steady rain and/or lightning will cancel.  Drizzle will not.  Sunday, June 7 is the rain date. 

Orange Conservation Website for additional info: www.orangectconservationcommission.com

For further information contact:  Dan Lynch, Orange Park & Recreation:  203-891-4790.

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Fall Workday At Ewen Preserve on Saturday

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Oct 252014

IMG_1939In the spirit of Fall cleaning, the Orange Conservation Commission will have a “Workday” at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Ewen Preserve.

Parking is at the GPS address 648 St Johns.

Participants will be cleaning and clearing brush and fallen branches and enjoying being in the out-of-doors in this beautiful spot. The Trees have turned and they are beautiful.

The pastoral site represents Orange’s farming heritage. Part of a farm owned by the same family since 1820, these 43 acres include old deep woods, meadows, ponds, wetlands, and fields that attract migrating birds.

Dress appropriately for the outdoors, bring your work gloves and tools, and tick protection. There will be a lot of clearing of the stonewall and branches at the entrance (know how to identify poison ivy).

The workday will end at 1 p.m.  

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Trail Day: Discover and Explore Tucker’s Ridge on June 7

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May 292014

A view from the Housatonic Overlook (Orange's waterfront property).

A view from the Housatonic Overlook (Orange’s waterfront property).

As part of the CT Trail Days weekend, the Orange Conservation Commission will host a hike on the beautiful Housatonic Overlook and Tucker’s Ridge, Saturday, June 7. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Set along the 200-foot eastern palisade of the Housatonic River, Tucker’s Ridge offers dramatic views of the Housatonic Valley and a variety of scenery along five beautiful trails. A bald eagle nesting area, the valley is rich with deer and other wildlife, forest tree species with an understory of mountain laurel, and picturesque rock.

Be prepared to encounter a steep bedrock descent and stream crossing before climbing up to a level inland trail; possible muddy areas in the northern wetland during wet periods.

The total distance is 0.75 miles.

Park and meet leader Sharon Ewen at the north entrance parking area, 672 High Ridge Road.

This trail day event will take place rain or shine. Dress appropriately and don’t forget to apply the tick spray.

 Pre-registration is not necessary.

For information, contact 203-891-4790.

Download the Connecticut Trails Day booklet at or take a look at the events listed by activity HERE.

Spring Cleaning This Weekend — A Message From The Orange Conservation Commission

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Mar 252014

The sign at the entrance to the Turkey Hill Preserve.

The sign at the entrance to the Turkey Hill Preserve.

As snow once again blankets Orange, the Orange Conservation Commission (OCC) is looking forward to springtime in Orange’s Open Spaces.

With nearly a thousand acres of open spaces in Orange, the OCC is planning activities to enhance the accessibility and sustainability of our open spaces (Paul Ode Nature Trail at the High Plains Community Center, Howard Brooks Conservation Area off Mapledale Road, Wrights Pond on Old Grassy Hill Road, Housatonic Overlook at Cedar Grove Rd/High Ridge Road, Racebrook Tract on Racebrook Road, Fred Wolfe Park off of Hollow Road and Ewen Farm Preserve on St John’s Drive and the Turkey Hill Preserve on Derby-Milford Road).

These open spaces represent Orange’s investment to protect the resources, plants and animals of our Town while simultaneously fulfilling its commitment to provide open space for passive recreational use and enjoyment on the properties.

Heading the list of these activities, a Conservation & Management Plan for Turkey Hill Preserve was recently developed and presented to the OCC. This Plan identified conservation strategies and adaptive management actions to allow Orange to carry out its stewardship goal of maintaining the Turkey Hill Preserve (THP) in a natural state that balances the need for protection and for passive recreational uses.

The study identified a very diverse collection of habitats, plants and animals present in the THP. THP contains high quality headwater streams that drain into Turkey Hill and Little Turkey Hill Brooks and into the Wepawaug River – very important to the fish population in these downstream habitats. In addition, the THP contains a number of wetland areas with vernal pools left after the snow finally melts. These pools are important to the development of plant and animal life that works its way up the food chain.

So how do we protect these wetland areas while still enjoying a woodland walk? Stay on the trail! Blazing for blue trail at THP was recently enhanced to enable hikers to easily follow the loop that starts at the parking lot off of Derby-Milford Road (at the intersection of Turkey Hill Road). Future articles will identify what to be on the lookout for as you hike the trails at THP and other Open Space areas.

In the spirit of Spring cleaning, the OCC will have a “workday” at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 29th at the Housatonic Overlook, parking is at the end of High Ridge Road. We will be cleaning up the trails, clearing brush and fallen branches and enjoying being out-of-doors in this beautiful spot in preparation for a Connecticut Trails Days event at this site on June 7th. You don’t have to wait until March 29th to take part in cleanup activities. As you walk any of the Open Space trails, pick up any trash you may find and deposit in proper trash cans at the entrances.

Lastly, Orange is very fortunate to have these Open Spaces available to our residents. Our Town leaders have exhibited great forethought in acquiring these properties for us and our children to enjoy. It is now up to us to step forward and accept responsibility for stewardship of this land.

The OCC needs more volunteers to help maintain trails and care for the land on all open space properties for which the OCC is responsible.  We are seeking highly motivated individuals or families who regularly use the trails and want to give something back to the town. Training in basic trail maintenance skills can be provided.

The OCC is especially interested in retired persons looking to stay physically active, young adults looking for a challenge, students who need to fulfill community service hours for graduation, families with older children who enjoy working together in the outdoors, owners of properties in the vicinity of town-owned land who would personally benefit from good stewardship practices nearby, amateur or professional naturalists, people who have or would like to develop leadership skills and/or those experienced with hand tools, painting, carpentry, or landscaping.

If you are interested in helping the OCC in this way, e-mail OCC commission member Sharon Ewen at sme71@yahoo.com. Aside from being a great way to provide community service, trail maintenance can be very rewarding!