In conjunction with the Connecticut Mountain Laurel Chapter of Wild Ones
We will explore Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charlestown to see how a former naval airstrip has “rewilded” itself. The Refuge encompasses a variety of coastal habitats including saltmarshes, kettle ponds, freshwater wetlands, maritime shrublands and forests dominated by oak or maple.
Trip Leader: Judy Preston, Wild Ones and CBS
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 20; specify that you are registering for Ninigret
We’ll meet for the hike at the West Entrance parking area off Rte 1/Post Road at the end of Ninigret Entrance Road. You may need to overshoot the park entrance and turn around to be able to turn into Ninigret Entrance Road. (Map available at https://www.ct-botanical-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/ningretparking.png)
A good spot for lunch is the Kettle Pond Visitor Center (50 Bend Road, on the other side of Post Road) which has restrooms and a few picnic tables as well as native plant gardens installed by the RIWPS and URI Master Gardeners.
We plan to hike Charlietown Runway to Cross-Refuge to Foster Cove trails for a total distance of 2.5 mi, but with the option to do less trail and more botanizing/exploration of the natural community as a template for similar conditions in backyard landscapes. The uniqueness of the site comes from its former use as a military airstrip, hence the “soil” is compacted sand and gravel close to the shore so there is wind, sun, fog and salt. This site provides inspiration for a gravel garden (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/02/realestate/gravel-gardens.html) including plants that are both compact (e.g., bayberry) and have very low nutrient demands. Less familiar plants include Bulbostylis capillaris (tufted hair sedge) and Lechea spp (pinweeds).
Dress comfortably for walking on loose and compacted sand and gravel, full sun. Terrain is flat (easy). Water is always a good idea, even though we’re not going far.