BYO Chainsaw: Hilltop Clearing This Sunday

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Volunteers planted native trees on the Hilltop this past April.

The Hilltop Conservancy is holding another clearing session at the Hilltop forest regeneration site this coming Sunday, October 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. It’s also your opportunity to see how the 80 trees that volunteers planted in April near Prisoner’s Pond are doing.

“Chainsaws will be a big help, but we also need some hand-cutting via pruning saws and loppers,” says Theresa Trapp, treasurer of the Hilltop Conservancy. “And if anyone has a tough string-trimmer, we need to finish clearing vegetation from around the newly-planted trees to discourage voles from chewing on the roots during the winter. We’ll have some hand tools there, but if you have your own please bring them, along with work gloves and sturdy shoes.”

Prisoner’s Pond, which is located above the two youth sports fields behind the Verona Community Center, was named after the Essex County Prison Annex that occupied the land around it for most of the 20th century until it closed in 2003. The spring-fed pond is the only year-round standing water in the Hilltop Reservation and it is home to fish, frogs and turtles, along with the occasional ducks and herons.

Recognizing the ecological and recreational benefits of restoring the forest surrounding the pond, in 2017 the Conservancy embarked on a five-year plan to regenerate five acres of it with native trees. Hilltop Conservancy volunteers first worked for a year to clear the first site of invasive plants and trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer. In April, they planned Silver Maples, Black Gums, Red Maples, Pin Oaks, Basswoods, and Tulip Poplars, all of which are native trees in our area. More trees will be planted next year.

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