Smith Woods are full of native plants that at this time last year were struggling to regrow after a long winter and foraging of the many deer that call the woods their home. These plants add to the plush beauty and fragile ecosystem of the old growth forest and have been protected in the last year by what was originally a 6-foot gated fence, which did a good, but not complete job of keeping the deer out. The Paleontological Research Institute (PRI)/Cayuga Nature Center was recently granted a variance from the Town of Ulysses to add another 2 feet to the fence, ensuring the deer will not be able to get in. I had the great opportunity to tour the forest and take an inventory of the plants with Marvin Pritts, a member of the Board of Trustees for PRI and a professor of plant science at Cornell University, who was very pleased with the early growth. Here are some of the plants we observed, many of which have historical medicinal uses.
Rounding out the plants we observed were plenty of wild ramps and ferns. There were also a few non-native and invasive species that PRI/Cayuga Nature Center is trying to control or remove.
Vinca, known to us as Myrtle, is an ornamental fast-spreading plant that is unfortunately difficult to impossible to remove. Also living in the woods are Garlic Mustard, Wild Rose, and Honeysuckle, which can be pulled, but need to be diligently monitored.
There is so much going on in the woods! Various groups have ongoing experiments happening; one group is monitoring mercury levels in leaf litter, while another group is monitoring tree growth rate. We observed a large swath of maple tree seedlings - which would likely have been eaten over the winter had the fence not been erected.
When asked how PRI/Cayuga Nature Center feels the fence is doing its job, Pritts reports, “We are delighted to see a large number of trillium this spring. Also, there are many maple saplings emerging from the forest floor. Deer browsing used to nearly eliminate young trees and severely impact spring wildflowers. It appears that Smith Woods is on the road to recovery.”
Pritts led a Mother’s Day hike in the woods, and if you didn’t have a chance to make it, please do stop by the woods to take a look around. Bring your boots, and park in the ShurSave parking lot or along the side of Cemetary Road. Please do observe the rules; carry in-carry out, all dogs on leash, etc. The woods are free and open to the public during daylight hours.
Rotary NewsTrumansburg Rotary continues its open-to-the-public speaker series with David Cornfield on May 23 on the need for kindness and inclusion, Tompkins County Recycling representative Geoff Dunn on June 6 to tell us about the new recycling guidelines, and Fred VanDerzee on June 13 speaking about T’burg Takes on Pediatric Cancer. Talks begin at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at the T’burg Legion, and all are welcome.
Rotary will also be offering its famous chicken barbecues during the Village Yard Sale on May 18, and Porchfest June 15. Chickens come off the grill around 11:15 a.m. in the Atlas Bowl parking lot and $10 buys you half a Cornell-recipe barbecued chicken, cole slaw, salt potatoes, Italian bread, utensils, and napkins.
Build a Birdhouse at Ulysses Philomathic LibraryBirdhouse Build-Saturday May 18, 9 a.m. on the Library front lawn. Rain location: the Melvin Community Room. Local carpenters will be on hand to help you build a birdhouse for your feathered friends. Free and open to all. No registration required, although supplies are limited.
Water Management WorkshopJoin Sean Dembrosky of Edible Acres on May 29 for a detailed look at human scale water management in the landscape. For 10 years he’s been slowly evolving how water moves, stores, shifts, releases, etc in a 6 acre challenging site. All with hand tools. Register for the event and find more info at groundswellcenter.org/events/water-management-workshop-part-1-with-edible-acres/
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