Haskins Preserve is going to the dogs.
The 16-acre park off Green Acre Lane — itself a quiet, lovely road off South Compo — is an astonishing place. Filled with woods, meadows, 2 ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees, it’s one of Westport’s most wonderful little gems.
It’s beloved by nature lovers. Walkers. And — in this dog-crazy town — dog owners.
The latter group does not always treat the preserve well. I’ve posted 2 stories in the past 3 years about dog issues. One described bags of poop left on a sign requesting owners to remove waste. The other was about mounting mounds of doo left all over the beautiful property.
That crappy problem is now worse than ever. There are also reports of out-of-control dogs threatening wildlife — it’s a nature preserve, not a park — as well as other dogs, even people.
Ground nesting birds can be chased from their nests by free-running dogs — on purpose, or inadvertently. If it happens often, birds won’t return to the nest.
And dogs looking to refresh themselves with a harmless jump into a forest pool can silt it up, destroying egg larvae from salamanders and frogs. That, of course, affects many other types of interconnected wildlife.
Aspetuck Land Trust — the non-profit organization that maintains Haskins, as well as many other open spaces in Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Easton — is not rolling over and playing dead.
This Saturday (May 7, 10 a.m.-noon), they’re sponsoring a free, open-to-the-public class in dog and dog owner etiquette.
“Tails, Trails and Tales” will be conducted as a hike. Connecticut Audubon Society senior director of science and conservation Milan Bull, his dog Edge, and noted dog trainer Jason Hofmann will walk, talk and provide answers to questions you’ve always wondered about: What does a dog sense in the woods? What does a biologist observe? How do we accommodate both, and protect the environment too?
(Interestingly, except for Edge, this is a dog-free event. The hike leaders request no dogs, to avoid chaos.)
“Tails, Trails and Tales” is limited to 20 people. To RSVP, email administration@aspetucklandtrust.
Parking is available at the preserve, on Green Acre Lane off South Compo.
Which is not to be confused with Westport’s actual dog park, Winslow, on North Compo.
(To read more about Haskins Preserve, click here.)