On Saturday, Oct 22, 2016 members of the Greenwich Neighborhoods Preservation Association (GNPA) and the Greenwich community came out in force to cleanup a Vernal Pool, which is a Designated Guarded Wetland near the corner of Hemlock Drive and Oak Street in central Greenwich.
Over the years this important wetland has been impacted and filled by landscaping debris and trash.
Saturday’s cleanup by Greenwich residents was the first step in restoring this wetland to enhance its ecological functions.
Two large dumpsters of debris were collected and removed from the site by 30 volunteers. Selectman John Toner stopped by to observe and support the work being done by the neighborhood and District 7 RTM member Hilary Gunn rolled up her sleeves and helped the neighbors gather up debris.
Vernal pools are ecologically important small wetlands that depend upon the surrounding forest and green space to function properly. They are breeding areas for a variety of amphibian species including wood frogs, which are vital to the ecology of the forest. Other species use the vernal pool, including turtles and wading birds. Vernal pools are a wildlife haven for many plants and animals.
Nationally recognized vernal pool expert, Dr. Michael W. Klemens was on site throughout the day to oversee the process and explain the importance of the preservation of the vernal pool.
“This vernal pool is very unusual as it thrives in a developed portion of Greenwich, providing vital ecological services to the neighborhood, while contributing to the purity of the Town’s wetlands, which drain directly into Long Island Sound,” Dr. Klemens said. “GNPA has taken a pro-active step in working with both landowners and the Town to enhance the vitality and survival of this ecological oasis.”
Klemens said the actions of GNPA will ensure not only that the vernal pool will continue to function, but that with the stewardship proposed by GNPA, this pool will become an even more valuable resource to the Town.
“Next spring the perimeter of this pool will be planted with a variety of native plants and shrubs to create habitat and a natural buffer to protect the water flowing into this wetland,” Klemens said. “I have had the pleasure of working with the neighborhood and GNPA for many years, and they have demonstrated a strong and ongoing commitment to conservation and preservation of our environment and this vernal pool.”
Vernal pools are a regulated inland wetland, therefore the Greenwich Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Agency is charged with their preservation and enhancement.
This means not only protecting the wetland itself, and the quality of the water entering the wetland, but maintaining a large portion of forested habitat within the 750-foot radius of the pool.
Guarded preservation allows the community to coexist and celebrate this wildlife habitat, while continuing to preserve and enjoy the Town’s remaining wetlands and wooded areas.