Spring Outdoors into the Dirt, Trails and Waters to Celebrate Earth Day!

April 22 – April 28, 2017

Spring Outdoors is all about nature and natural resources this week as Earth Day nears!

Start by digging into the dirt with these soil and gardening choices on Saturday, April 22nd. The Town of Mansfield’s “Build Your Own Rain Barrel & Pre-Order Sale” happens at the Mansfield Library from 10 – 11:30 am; save money and learn how to make your own rain barrel. Pre-register and pre-order barrels with Virginia Walton at waltonvd@mansfieldct.org or call 860-429-3333. Dudley is holding its first ever “Dudley Dirt Day” on the same day, from 10 am – noon at the Dudley Grange. The grange and the Dudley Conservation Land Trust are offering this presentation on how to maintain healthy soil, as well as free on-site soil tests, so bring a small sample with you. The Friends of Goodwin Forest present “Soil Science” from 10 am – 12:30 pm at the Goodwin Conservation Center in Hampton. Pre-register to jasper.sha@ct.gov to learn about the world beneath our feet and how use and management of our soil will shape the future. Goodwin is also offering “Creating a Medicinal Herb Garden” from 2 – 3:30 pm with a practicing herbalist and master gardener, sharing design, plant sources and healing traditions. Preston residents are welcome to take advantage of the “Amos Lake Association’s 2017 Soil Testing Day.” Head to www.preston.org for instructions, and return your soil sample on April 22nd from 10 am – 3 pm to the transfer station or Flemings Feed. Testing before applying fertilizers will result in healthier lawns and gardens plus a cleaner lake and watershed.  Close out the week’s soil-concentrated programs on Thursday, April 27th from 7 – 8 pm with “No-Till Gardening” at the Mansfield Public Library. Free and open to all local community members, pre-register to waltonvd@mansfieldct.org or call 860-429-3333 and secure a seat to learn how to nourish the soil without disturbing it.

Stroll with “Avalonia’s Earth Day Guided Hike” on Saturday, April 22nd at 10 am, at the newly-acquired 94-acre Benedict Benson Preserve in North Stonington. This spot is home to rare and endangered birds; please leave the dogs at home. Later in the day, Avalonia Land Conservancy features “Earth Day at the Mystic & Noank Library” at 3 pm, introducing “Hike & Seek” as well as a presentation on local watersheds, the shoreline, and plants and animals that live there.

Scamper, run, jog, stroll, skip or walk as you take part in the “4th Annual WT4H Camper Scamper,” a 5K road race, including a 1-miler for the kiddos. This fun run happens Saturday, April 22nd at 10 am, and you can sign up online at www.4hcampct.org. Fees are $20 for adults, and $10 for the kids.

History, beauty and antiques combine for more exploration! “The Three Bridges of Downtown Willimantic – and More” happens on Saturday, April 22nd at 10:30 am. Meet in the Jillson Square parking lot to view the historic photos in the bank nearby, and then explore the Victorian Footbridge, Frog Bridge and Bridge of Flowers. This is a long-time Walktober offering, so take the chance to see it in a new season. “Creamery Brook’s Old Iron Tractor Plow Day” tills up fun on Sunday, April 23rd, starting at 10 am and plowing through until 2 pm. Take a stroll past the BIG bison to the fields. All shapes and sizes of tractors and plows will be on display and at work plowing the field. Breakfast and lunch bison sandwiches will be available for purchase and the bison-themed store will be open.

Seek salamanders twice! Turn over logs at Wyndham Land Trust’s Lyon Preserve on Wright’s Crossing Rd. in Pomfret on Saturday, April 22nd at 1 pm. Plus, “TLGV Ranger Marcy’s Acorn Adventure” visits Lake Siog on Pond Bridge Rd. in Holland on Sunday, April 23 at 1 pm. Both are family-friendly events, with plenty of safe parking and room to let little legs roam and explore!

Water runs through some programs this week, too! “Stones, Ponds & Dams” is led by popular UConn Professor Thorson with Joshua’s Trust in Mansfield on Saturday, April 22nd at 2 pm and is good for school-age kids and up. Opacum Land Trust and Hitchcock Free Academy invite you to Dingle Dell in Brimfield for “Perspectives: Land, Streams & Photos” at 5 pm. Join the photo shoot with a nature photographer to help you zoom in as the evening light arrives. Paddle or cheer at the “Sturbridge Lions All American River Race” on Sunday, April 23rd, with 9 am registration time and 11 am start for paddlers. This timed race covers over 6 miles of the Quinebaug River, ending at the Westfield Dam Recreation Area with food, entertainment, and strategic viewing of the rapids.

Turn to the trees for more choices! “Trees on Woodstock Hill” offers a tour of the 100 year old Palmer Arboretum on Sunday, April 23rd at 10 am. View the special trees growing on Woodstock Hill as the arboretum is being restored by hearty volunteers. This tour will repeat on April 23, May 13, June 3 and June 17; see how changes blossom as these weeks pass. Head into the woods for “Forest & Farm, LLC Woodland Tour” later the same day at 1 pm. Forest management for wildlife habitat is the topic on this Mansfield property. Hull Forest Products, the land owner and ECLFA/Wolf Den Land Trust team up to highlight this good work in the woods.

To get all the Spring Outdoor choices and clean-up opportunities, visit www.thelastgreenvalley.org or TLGV’s Facebook page. New adventures are being added all the time, so be sure to check in often!

The Last Green Valley is a National Heritage Corridor – the last stretch of dark night sky in the coastal sprawl between Boston and Washington, D.C.  The Last Green Valley works for you in the National Heritage Corridor. Together we can care for it, enjoy it and pass it on!