Forest Association Announces Nettleton Preserve Memorial Orchard Project
Newtown Forest Association will begin work shortly to enhance Nettleton Preserve, one of Newtown's most well-known properties, located on Castle Hill Road and overlooking historic Main Street.
The bulk of the 26-acre preserve was acquired from the estate of Arthur T. Nettleton, former NFA president, in 1973. Historical references show that the property was meadow as late as 1970. On or around that time, an orchard, comprising over 22 flowering fruit trees, was planted along Castle Hill Road. Over the ensuing 35 years the largest part of the meadow has reverted back to forest.
Beginning in 2006, NFA began one of its first stewardship projects. The aim was to augment the existing trail system created by Howard Boles, a dedicated neighbor to the property, and to maintain the meadow area, preserving one of the most iconic views of Newtown.
Invasive species that had taken hold have been gradually cut back. As this ongoing project progressed, the long forgotten orchard began to show itself again. NFA's stewardship program identified three areas of focus for the preserve: invasive removal, trail enhancement, and the expansion of the orchard and native trees.
With generous funding from The Sandy Hook Memorial Tree Fund, NFA will embark on a comprehensive stewardship program to further manage the natural resources found there with the following goals in mind:
*reclaim the meadow, orchard and vista from the overgrowth of invasive species and damaged forest, with specific tree and brush removal;
*provide new trails and spaces for relaxation, which will connect with existing trails;
*plant new flowering fruit trees to complement the existing orchard along with additional native species;
*share this project with the community in every phase, as a demonstration goodwill and good stewardship, involving local contractors and volunteers, such as Scouts and students for education and community fellowship opportunities; and
*build and install signage and informational kiosks.
The total scope of the project will involve the clearing of invasive plant species and selected trees along Castle Hill Road, leaving a partial canopy of native species in the lower meadow. All trees and debris will remain on site and be recycled.
Chips will be shredded for paths and some brush piles for wildlife will be created. The existing fruit trees will be pruned to maximize their health and appearance.
Additionally 26 new fruit trees will be planted to augment the existing orchard. Additional wildlife friendly, native shrubs will supplement the plantings already present.
Upon completion of this project, the portion of the property along Castle Hill Road will be visually open, providing dramatic views into the preserve from both the bottom of the castel hill road as well as from the top. The overall goal will be to provide multiple spaces for trail walking, relaxing and quiet contemplation for of the property's visitors.
The NFA envisions the project to be something that the entire community will be interested in. The overall health of the existing forest will be greatly enhanced. Many residents, especially children, will be able to better access and enjoy Nettleton Preserve for many years to come. Work is expected to begin in early November, with a planting and dedication ceremony in late spring of 2015.