Hikers discover hidden treasures on National Trails Day

KENT — Among the birdsongs, sunlight and greenery of Kent, about 20 hikers celebrated the 19th National Trails Day in Connecticut Saturday, June 4, at the Marvelwood School. The centerpiece of the day, however, was not hiking, but the wildlife, specifically the birds in the fields behind the school. Laurie Doss, chair of the science department at Marvelwood, along with one of her students, Joseph Golden, shared their knowledge and love for the nature and birds in the area. Doss and her students, with the support of the Kent Conservation Commission, have cleared out much of the overgrown woods behind the school in order to re-create the habitat where both common and endangered birds once lived. Hunter Brawley, who works with the Kent Conservation Commission, also joined the hike. He explained that these woods are now home to the field sparrow, blue warbler and prairie warbler, three species that are rapidly losing places to live. They returned to the field behind Marvelwood within a year of the clearing of the field.“These months, the end of April to mid-June, are the breeding months for the birds,” Brawley explained. He emphasized how important the ability to nest in this field during breeding is to many species’ survival. Connie Manes, executive director of Kent Land and Trust and chair of the Kent Conservation Commission, explained that the commission uses National Trails Day to promote respect and love for the beautiful woods of the Tri-state area. “I think if you grow up in a place this beautiful, it never leaves you,” she said, “and it comes back when you are an adult.” Those on the hike asked questions, directed both to the leaders and each other, surrounding their shared love of the outdoors. Asked what his favorite part of leading such hikes is, Brawley laughed.“I do this for a living, so I don’t have a favorite part.” He paused, then said, “My focus is birds. But with this hike, my favorite part is showing people these trails and meeting new people with a similar love for nature.” National Trails Day is sponsored by the American Hiking Society. Locally, the Kent Land Trust along with the Kent Conservation Commission, sponsored the hike. For more information about National Trails Day, visit www.americanhiking.org. For more information on trails in the area, visit www.ctwoodlands.org.

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