Restoring The Habitat of NFA's Bloom Preserve

Volunteers are working to restore Bloom Preserve, which has been recently overrun with invasive species.

Members of property owner The Newtown Forest Association (NFA), the state's oldest private land trust, recently started a land management plan there to restore a meadow habitat.

What was once an open meadow at Bloom Preserve has become choked with multiflora rose and Russian olive, invasive species that drastically changed the value of the property as a wildlife habitat, according to a NFA press release. Bloom Preserve neighbor Glen Ekstrom mowed paths through the space to allow NFA members to inspect the property and form future stewardship plans.

"We are grateful for Glen Ekstrom's efforts and his willingness to work with the NFA to restore yet another valuable piece of open space and safeguard and enhance the natural resources found there," said NFA President Bob Eckenrode.

Located on the Brookfield-Newtown border near Obtuse and Tower Roads, the nearly 16-acre Bloom Preserve acquired by NFA in 1976 graces a steeply sloping hillside that leads to what was once an ancient glacial plateau. A lichen-covered rock wall and many trees frame the view, a vista that extends to Georges Hill, southerly to Mt Pleasant Road, and westerly to Whisconier Hill.

Following site visits in the past several years, some held in conjunction with the Brookfield Open Space Legacy Trust (which owns an 18-acre property abutting the Bloom Preserve), NFA formed a management plan.

The short-term goal in removing these invasive species — including barberry, which harbors ticks — is to return the property to its natural meadow state. In the long term, the property will be managed to preserve native plant species while still allowing for passive recreation and seasonal mowing.

Wild, natural open space meadows — critical habitats for native song birds and butterflies — are disappearing due to development and reforestation. Future plans include the possible development of hiking trails to enhance different areas of the property and connect to the Brookfield Open Space property.

Newtown Forest Association, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the oldest private land trust in Connecticut. NFA is dedicated to accumulating and preserving open space and natural resources in Newtown, for the benefit of the community and all nature lovers. Currently, more than 1,100 acres are preserved through NFA stewardship, thanks to the support of membership dues and generous donors. The NFA cooperates with but operates independently from the Town of Newtown and receives no funding from the town.

For more information on NFA, visit www.NewtownForestAssociation.org or NFA's Facebook page, which offers updates in real time.

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