At least a dozen volunteers from the Somers Land Trust showed up Saturday morning, chainsaws and weed-whackers in hand. They were there to clear the Angle Fly Preserve of the barberry, wisteria and honeysuckle vines clogging the White Trail. It was just a small part of the major scheme to redevelop the land and rehabilitate the wetlands at the 654-acre Preserve.
Its a big, bio-diverse area, said Michael Barnhart, president of the Somers Land Trust. Its got a large amphibian and turtle population because its very wet. In addition to box turtles and spotted turtles, it is home to a number of wood turtles, which are nearly extinct in Westchester County.
Turtles are dying out, Barnhart explained, because of habitat loss and road mortality. They live long, but theyre slow breeders.
Mike Lubchenko of Somers said that he has watched the Preserve evolve from very rough to definitely accessible. It is unique because theres an enormous variety of scenic beauty: lakes, streams, pine trees, cedars. We even found an old apple tree, left over from the days when there was an orchard here. The scenery changes throughout the year. Its especially nice in winter.
The preserve gets its name from the Angle Fly Brook, which is reputed to be the last in the county where brook trout spawn, said Barnhart. They need cold water and theyre disappearing fast because the conservation department stocks brown trout and the [smaller] brook trout lose out in competition.
The land mass that comprises the Angle Fly Preserve was acquired from a private developer in 2006. It was an unusual tripartite purchase by Westchester County, New York City and the Town of Somers. In the early days it was the home of the Kitchawank tribe, whose word for the area was Amapaugh, meaning fresh-water fish.
Fishermen and hunters are still welcome to try their luck at Angle Fly. Valid permits are required. Hikers are also invited to admire its beauty.
A long-term development plan includes clearing more and more paths, planting native species, and providing a wheelchair accessible trail.
Volunteer Days will continue throughout the summer. Contact the Somers Land Trust by email .
The time lapse video AFP bridge construction was made by Mike Lubchenko earlier this year.