Tag Archives: Aspetuck Land Trust

Roundup: Water Conservation; Hoodies And Wristbands; Aspetuck Dogs; More


High temperatures, low rainfall and high water demands have reduced reservoir levels.

Aquarion says that Westport customers — under a mandatory, twice-weekly irrigation schedule — are asked to continue reducing water usage by 20 percent.

If the last number of your address is even, you should water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight. If the last number is odd, watering should take place Saturdays and Tuesdays (same times as above). If you have no street number, water Sundays and Wednesdays (as above).

Based on current water demands and expected rainfall, additional mandatory restrictions may be required in the coming weeks.

Aquarion offers these tips for efficient water usage:

Outdoors

  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture.
  • Reduce your sprinkler setting to 2 days per week. The grass roots will grow deeper and make your grass more drought tolerant.
  • Adjust your sprinklers so they water your lawn and garden, not the street or sidewalk.
  • Turn off your irrigation system; use hand watering or drip irrigation for shrubs and flowers.
  • Inspect your irrigation system for leaks, broken lines or blockage in the lines. A well-maintained system saves you money, water and time.

Indoors

  • Turn off water while lathering, shaving, or brushing your teeth.
  • Minimize the amount of water you use for baths. Trim 1 minute off the length of your showers.
  • Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Hand wash dishes in a pan or the sink, not under continuous running water.
  • Reuse dehumidifier water. or use a bucket to capture shower and bath water while you wait for it to warm up; use the water to water your plants.

Click here for more tips.


Amy Smith knows education. A 2011 Staples High School graduate who taught 1st and 4th grades at Long Lots Elementary School — and the daughter of Bedford Middle School 6th grade science teacher Liz Smith — she and her mom created a company with a very modern mission.

Called My Covid Color, the aim is to keep students, families and educators safe during the return-to-school process.

Their My Covid Color wristbands come in red, yellow and green. The colors indicate the wearer’s comfort level for social distancing in public.

Red means you need others more than 6 feet away. Yellow means you need others 6 feet away, while green indicates you are comfortable with people being closer than 6 feet.

Of course, they’re not just for school. Anyone of any age can wear a wristband, anywhere in public. Click here for details, and purchase information.

“06880” gives My Covid Color an A+. And a gold star too.

 


Dog lovers, wag your tails: Leashed dogs are now allowed back at all Aspetuck Land Trust nature preserves (except those specifically reserved as wildlife refuges — click here for more information). NOTE:

  • Dogs must be leashed (except for certain off-leash areas).
  • Leashes must be 6 feet or less
  • Dogs must be reined in when approaching other people (and dogs), to prevent contact
  • Owners must remove their pet’s waste.

For more Aspetuck Land Trust info, click here.


Rio Bravo restaurant on Post Road East — known for its good food, large portions and reasonable prices — is closed. The interior has already been cleaned out.

The Fairfield location remains open, however. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)


Staples High School graduate Jonathan Kaner is now an economics major at the University of Michigan. He’s part of TAMID Group, which consults with Israeli startups. He was ready for an internship in Israel this summer. Then COVID struck.

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Jonathan and 2 friends — including Westporter Alex Reiner — started a clothing brand.

They’re already making high-quality hoodies, with unique features like holographic foil printing. In the works: t-shirts, sweatpants and shorts.

Jonathan’s company is Low Maintenance — that’s the name, and also the “loungewear meets streetwear” concept. Click here for products and more.

Low Maintenance: lookin’ good!


And finally … 51 years after its release, “Bad Moon Rising” sounds as apocalyptically apt as ever.

Yet despite its “voice of rage and ruin,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic also contains a classic misheard lyric: “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

That’s what John Fogerty sang — with a knowing wink — at the Levitt Pavilion a couple of years ago. He’s 75 now, and despite all those earthquakes and lightning, he’s made it to 2020 looking and sounding great.

COVID Roundup: Rizzuto’s; Coffee An’; Plant Sale; More


It’s nice to hear that Westport restaurants are reopening.

It’s also nice to hear that town and civic officials are doing all they can to help.

Rizzuto’s and The Lobster Shack were back in business Friday. Owner Bill Rizzuto says, “our Planning and Zoning people and fire marshal were fantastic. And a big hats-off to Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell, who worked tirelessly to support us all.”

Rizzuto’s offers outdoor dining Monday through Thursday 4 to 9  p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. They’re continuing curbside service and delivery too. Click here to order.

The Lobster Shack is open for curbside pickup and delivery Monday through Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 12 to 8 p.m.


Also reopening tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.: Coffee An’!

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)


Aspetuck Land Trust — whose 40+ preserves have provided area residents with healthy, mood-lifting walking trails throughout the pandemic — is sponsoring its first-ever native plant sale.

It’s simple: Order online, and reserve a curbside pickup time. Plants can be picked up at Gilbertie’s Organics in Easton in 2 weeks.

Up to half of the purchase price is a tax-deductible contribution to Aspetuck Land Trust!

Choose from pollinator herb variety packs; pollinator garden kits; mailbox garden kits; shrubs and trees, and eco-type plants (plugs) for containers and gardens.

Prices range from $9 to $80.

Click here to order. To join a webinar this Wednesday (May 27, 10:30 a.m.) about the importance of planting natives, click here, then scroll down.


What’s a Sunday without former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on “Face the Nation”? At least this week his live-remote hometown got a shout-out on the chyron. (Hat tip: Alan Shinbaum)


And finally … sing it, Dionne!

COVID-19 Roundup: Trout Brook, Barnes & Noble Reopen; Face Mask Messages; More


After discussions with Weston officials, Aspetuck Land Trust is reopening Trout Brook Valley’s largest parking lot — the one on Bradley Road. It will be available starting tomorrow (Monday, April 27), on weekdays only. NOTE: Dogs are not allowed!

Click here for information on all 42 ATL preserves’, and their hiking trails.


Staples High School 1988 graduate Scott Froschauer is now a Los Angeles artist. He’s gotten lots of attention for works that use street signs to convey more useful instructions (like “Breathe” and “All We Have is Now”).

Longtime Westporters Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler — who spent part of the year in Palm Springs — are huge fans. They bought some of his work even before they knew the local connection.

Now, Ann reports, Scott is making face masks. They’re like his street signs, with messages like “Dream,” “Smile” and “Do Your Best.”

And, of course, “Breathe.” Click here to order.


Good news: Barnes & Noble is back open. Curbside pickup is available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

That news comes from Nina Sankovitch, who has particular reason to be pleased. Her newest book — American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution — is well stocked there.

Anyone buying her book there will receive a nice gift: one of Nina’s American Rebels tote bags (below).

And, she promises, once the virus is gone, she’ll be happy to sign your book.


Two weeks ago, “06880” posted a video of 1970 Staples High School graduate Stephen Wall — now a tenor with the Seattle Opera — entertaining his socially distancing neighbors with a rousing rendition of “Nessun Dorma.”

This week he’s back, bolder and more rousing than ever. Here he is, with his “Friday Figaro.”


This is not stop-the-presses news: raising teenagers is hard. These days, it’s even tougher.

Tomorrow (Monday, April 27, 12 to 1 p.m.), Westport Together sponsors a webinar: “Parenting High School Juniors and Seniors During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

The program features local mental health professionals Deb Slocum of the Staples High School Counseling Department, Karen Krupnik of Positive Directions, and director of Westport Public Schools psychological services Dr. Valerie Babich. They’ll discuss ways to develop social, academic and emotional skills needed for life after high school. To register, click here or watch on Facebook Live.

Next month, Westport Together hosts more virtual discussion groups for parents of elementary, middle and high school students. Click here for their website.


Beechwood Arts’ “Coming Out Of COVID” event planned for this Wednesday (April 29) is postponed. The reason: a death in the organizers’ family. from complications of the coronavirus.

It will be rescheduled. For more information, click here.


And finally … Dionne Warwick reminds us of a simple, yet very important, truth:

COVID-19 Roundup: Bells, Seders, Easter, Entertainment, Saugatuck Island, More

Yesterday marked one month since the Westport Public Schools closed — and the full impact of the coronavirus hit home.

The original “2-week” period has been doubled. Though there has been no word from the governor, it looks increasingly likely that schools will remain shut through June.

Four weeks ago, we could not imagine being out for 2 weeks. Now, we realize we can do this. And we can do a lot more, in all facets of our lives.

Human beings are remarkably adaptable creatures. But it takes an enormous amount of support and collaboration to adapt. Here’s a shout-out to all who have done whatever they can, to help us through that very tough first month.


It’s still too early to get a handle on the financial impact of COVID-19 crisis on Westport. When Board of Finance chair Brian Stern sat for an interview with Rob Simmelkjaer yesterday, he noted that it is too early to know about its effect on the mill rate, which will be set in mid-May. Click on the app for the full interview; download it here.

Brian Stern and Rob Simmelkjaer.


Yesterday marked Westport’s 2nd Wednesday of bell ringing. Churches, businesses, families — all got together at 5 p.m., to show support for medical personnel and frontline workers.

One of the special ringers was Rebecca Schachter. Her bell came from her dad Seth’s World War II collection. It was used by British wardens during air raids.

Eight decades later, we’re in a different war. But the bell is as important as ever.


Like many Westport families last night, the Aders and Yormarks celebrated Passover — commemorating the Israelites’ escape from slavery when God inflicted 10 plagues upon the Egyptians — in the midst of a plague. Here’s their “virtual” Seder:


Also yesterday, Governor Lamont ordered all flags lowered to half staff statewide, mourning those affected by COVID-19. Flags will remain lowered throughout the emergency.

Reader Brendan Byrne spotted a firefighter at the Saugatuck station responding immediately:


Posted without comment (though there undoubtedly will be some from readers):

“SISTD” is the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District. It was established in 1984 to tax island property owners on the land just beyond Harbor Road for local costs — mainly road maintenance. (Hat tip: NextDoor)


St. Luke Church will livestream all Holy Week masses and services. That’s Holy Thursday (tonight, 7:30 p.m.); Good Friday (8 a.m., 3 p.m.), Holy Saturday (8 a.m., 8 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (7:30 a.m.).

After livestreaming, they’ll be available on YouTube. Click here for details.

(Photo/Julie Mombello)


Aspetuck Land Trust’s 44 preserves are still open. They’re great places to walk, de-stress, and leave the coronavirus world behind.

But — unless people start obeying the well-marked rules — they won’t be open much longer.

There is a clear “no dogs” policy. The reasons make sense: the COVID-19 virus may be spread on dog fur just like on other surfaces. Plus, the heavy volume of dogs harms wildlife.

Yet people still bring dogs. And recently, people who did not want to follow the rules went further, and ripped up signs.

Beaches and athletic fields have been closed. Aspetuck’s preserves are still open. But some entitled morons may soon put an end to that.


Just in case you haven’t gotten the memo that Westport sports facilities are closed: There are new electronic signs at Staples High School. They rotate 3 messages: “No Trespassing.” “Athletic Fields Closed.” “Area Patrolled.”

(Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


With Westport’s schools and town buildings shut, the Westport Public Art Collections presents 2 new online exhibits. They feature artwork that’s part of the new Learning Galleries — spaces at each school for displays responding to teacher requests.

Click here for “Face to Face: Looking at Portraits from the Westport Public Art Collections.” Click here for “Ties that Bind: Westport and Yangzhou.”  For more, click on the WestPAC website.


If you’ve been de-cluttering your house like crazy: Good news! Goodwill donation centers are open.

Goodwill’s career centers are open too — virtually. That’s a great resource for people looking for work. Click here for more info, and/or to make an appointment with a job counselor.


John Richers spent 40 ears in corporate finance. He owned a couple of guitars and harmonicas that were gathering dust, but for the past 5 years he’s attended a weekly jam group with “musicians of a certain age.” Now also done open mic shows, covering Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young and the like.

Now — in the new normal — John has started writing songs. H ejust began posting them on YouTube. Who knows? With a push from “06880” readers (and perhaps a nudge from Weston’s Keith Richards — see why below), the Westporter may soon be a pandemic star.


Richard Epstein — the Westport dentist who moonlights as a WPKN programmer — wants everyone to know that the 89.5 FM station is livestreaming a “Global Dance Party” tomorrow (Friday, April 10) from noon to midnight.

All hosts are live — from their homes. Among them: Talking Heads drummer and Sturges Highway resident Chris Frantz playing disco, house and funk, and Westonite Eric Cocks (surf, garage, psych).

Other genres include big band, swing, bluegrass, American and roots, Middle Eastern, ska, dance hall, hip hop, salsa, Latin, Afrobeat, blues, rockabilly, Bollywood, new wave, punk, and unclassifiable.


Stew Leonard’s has changed their minds. They will be open on Easter: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.


And finally, because this is our new reality:

Leave Leaves Alone!

Last weekend’s “06880” post about Westport’s leaf collection program — which included a brief note at the end about the alternative of composting — drew approving comments from readers. 

Alert — and environmentally conscious — reader Bill Kutik followed up with some information on alternatives to leaf blowers from Aspetuck Land Trust. They say:

Hate the sound of leaf blowers ?

You can leave the leaves alone! You really can leave them on your lawn.

Here are 3 simple steps this fall to do less, and help nature more.

Mulch Leaves on Lawns

Leaves are not litter! Mulch mow these leaves right into the lawn. This adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil, which is good for the grass, prevents weeds, and reduces need for fertilizer in the spring. Here’s a video about how to mulch mow. It really is as simple as mowing over the leaves on the lawn.

Leave Leaves in Beds

Leave leaves in your garden beds. They will decompose, adding nutrients and organic matter to your soil, improving drainage and water retention as well as feeding beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

If you must cut back your plants, just leave the cuttings in the bed so the insects and birds can benefit from them. Birds also love last season’s garden debris for spring nest building.

Ease up on the Leaf Blower

If you love nature, ease up on the leaf blower. Aside from the horrendous noise (90-120 decibels) — which in itself is harmful to all sorts of creatures (including human’s ears) — butterfly eggs will be blown far away; luna moths wrapped in leaves will be totally blasted, and frogs and salamanders, snuggled in moist seclusion, will be ripped apart by hurricane-force winds (180-200mph).

If you use landscapers, please tell them you don’t want them using leaf blowers anywhere except on hardscapes. Mulch-mow the lawns. and let nature settle down for the winter.

The Bottom Line…

Tell friends and neighbors to “leave leaves alone.”

Leaves are not litter; they are nutrients for your lawn and garden. Leave them on your property. It’s less work for you — and it’s better for the planet.

Celebrate fall — don’t blow it!

(For more details on what to do with autumn leaves, click here.)

Eventually, fall leaves fall. What are you going to do with those leaves? (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Photo Challenge #244

Whenever I post a photo of a bucolic, water-rippling-over-boulders, looks-like-Vermont-but-it’s-actually-Westport shot, the default response is: the Saugatuck, River, at Ford Road.

Sure, that’s one of Westport’s most beautiful, underrated spots.

But it’s not the only one.

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed a scene that readers thought was Ford Road. (Click here to see.) In fact, it was Newman Poses Preserve. The river is the Aspetuck.

Leigh Gage was first with the correct answer. Seth Schachter, Jonathan McClure and Alice Ely followed soon.

This hidden gem — located off Bayberry Lane and Easton Road — is the only public memorial approved by the family of the late Paul Newman as a way to honor the actor/philanthropist/race car driver/popcorn and salad dressing king. He lived nearby, and donated much of the land for the preserve.

The parcel also includes land sold to the town by Lillian Poses, a neighbor and friend of the Newmans. She worked on the New Deal in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, and was one of the first female graduates of NYU Law School.

Newman Poses Preserve is managed by the Aspetuck Land Trust. For more information, click here.

This week’s Photo Challenge is also wonderfully scenic. If you know where in Westport you’d see this — and everyone here has — click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Bear Necessities

Last year, there were 2,251 bear sightings in Connecticut. As many as 700 adult and cub bears live in the state. Residents spotted 3,249 bobacats too.

That’s a big change from a century ago. According to Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, by the late 1800s, almost all forest here had been logged for agriculture, fuel and construction.

Bears, bobcats and deer were rare.

But forests grow back. And — with strong laws also regulating hunting — large animals have habitats in which they thrive.

Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, and a black bear.

Dr. Rittenhouse should know. She is a wildlife expert, and an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut. Her long-term research project examines how black bears have expanded their range to include suburban areas of the state.

Next Wednesday (November 14, 7:30 p.m., Westport Unitarian Church) she’ll speak about bears and other large mammals — specifically, why we see so many more of them these days, and what it means for folks like us.

The talk is part of Aspetuck Land Trust‘s Haskins Lecture Series. Scientists Caryl and Edna Haskins donated their Green Acre Lane estate to the trust in 2002. It’s now a 16-acre preserve, just off South Compo Road.

Caryl Haskins earned renown as an ant biologist.

Bears and bobcats are somewhat larger. But they’re all part of our Westport world.

For anyone hoping to understand our changing town, Wednesday’s talk should be fascinating.

(Dr. Rittenhouse’s talk is open to the public. Admission is free to Aspetuck Land Trust members. A $5 donation is suggested for non-members.)

Staples Interns Explore 3 Generations Of Fun

Back in the day, Staples High School seniors spent the last month before graduation marking time.

Stricken with severe cases of senioritis, with classes essentially over and warm weather beckoning, even the most diligent students checked out.

For nearly a decade though, Staples’ senior internship program has provided an excellent bridge between school and the real world.

Last week, over 450 soon-to-be graduates completed their 4-week internships. They worked for marketing and financial services firms; at Town Hall, the police station and in Westport schools. They helped doctors and lawyers, builders and caterers.

They got a taste of commuting, writing lesson plans, being part of a company team. They learned about punctuality and customer service; how to write business emails, answer the phone and (yes) make coffee.

Ella de Bruijn did her internship at Wakeman Town Farm.

I could highlight any one of 450 interns. But I chose Zach Howard and Alison Lindsey-Noble.

They interned at Aspetuck Land Trust. Part of their work was creating a video.

Together, they interviewed 3 generations of local residents. First, they asked: “What did you do for fun as a kid.”

The grandparent and parent generations talked about being outdoors: fishing, bike riding, playing games, jumping in leaves.

The youngest generation — today’s kids — mentioned video games, computers, watching TV with friends. One talked about rock climbing — the Xbox version, that is.

Asked what they can’t live without, the youngsters said Wi-Fi, technology, cell phones, and TV (“because there’s nothing else to do,” one girl added).

Two boys sitting on a couch playing video games

Zach and Alison then asked the older generations why it’s important for kids to go outside.

“To have a good relationship with the natural world,” one said. “You get a healthy perspective on life in general; how we relate to the environment.” That helps everyone make “good life decisions,” he noted.

The video ends with this message: “Aspetuck Land Trust has 45 trailed preserves available to you.”

Now, hopefully — thanks to Zach and Alison’s internship work — some kids may put down their phones, turn off their Wiis, and take a hike.

Click below to see Zach and Alison’s video.

Jory Teltser Is For The Birds

Jory Teltser is one of Westport’s most passionate birdwatchers.

He’s seen over 250 species in this town alone. He’s taken nearly 100,000 photos. He raises money to help keep the Smith Richardson Preserve, a critical habitat for migrating birds.

And he’s still only a Staples High School junior.

Jory is not just a birder. He plays French horn in the orchestra and band, and this summer will tour Australia with Staples’ elite Orphenians singing group.

But birding — spending hours outdoors, figuring out calls, finding new species, learning everything there is to know about these fantastically varied vertebrates — is what gets him up in the morning.

Often very, very early.

Jory Teltser

Jory’s interest was piqued more than 8 years ago. Tina Green — a photographer and patient of Jory’s internist father — took them both to Sherwood Island. Ten feet away was a saw-whet owl.

“It was the size of a fist, all brown with giant eyes, sitting on a cedar tree staring right at me,” Jory recalls. He was intrigued.

But he did not get serious about the hobby until 4 years ago. Tina took him birdwatching after school, and nearly every weekend. “I saw her more than my parents,” Jory laughs.

Ornithology hooked him for many reasons. The biggest: “It gets me out in nature. I experience things most people never see. It can be relaxing and meditative. It calms you down.”

For a while, Jory admits, he was a stressed-out “serious lister.” He raced all around New England, trying to see as many different species as he could. In middle school and freshman year, he skipped school every couple of months to see a new bird.

A red-breasted merganser (Photo copyright Jory Teltser)

He does that far less often now. The most recent time was early March. The attraction: a varied thrush, in Simsbury. “It was an adult male, with very vibrant colors,” he explains.

But he focuses mainly on Fairfield County. There’s more than enough here to keep him excited.

Jory learns about new species and sightings in several ways. A statewide email listserv has about 1,000 participants. He’s one of 5 high school students (one other is from Staples).

There’s Cornell Ornithology Lab’s eBird database — with customized alerts about species he hasn’t yet seen — and several Facebook groups.

When Jory goes birding, he takes along a serious camera.

Jory is largely self-taught. He’s never read a field guide. But he can identify close to 2,000 species visually, and 1,000 by sound.

Being a musician helps, he notes. “I visualize and internalize notes, pitches, timbres, songs and calls.”

One of Jory’s favorite birding spots is Smith Richardson Preserve. “It’s small, but it might be the premier location in the state,” he says.

On May 12 he’ll raise funds for that site on Westport’s eastern border by taking part in the World Series of Birding. For the 3rd straight year he and 3 teammates (one is from Staples) will travel to Cape May County, New Jersey. Starting at midnight, they’ll spend the next 24 hours tallying as many species as possible, by sight or sound. Sponsors pledge money based on the total.

Last year Jory’s group — the Darth Waders — identified 162 species. That placed them 2nd out of more than 100 teams — beating out even traditional champion Cornell.

Common loon. Cockenoe Island is in the background. (Photo copyright Jory Teltser)

Jory also loves Sherwood Island. “We’re so lucky to have a state park in Westport,” he says. Over the past 60 years, more than 300 species have been seen there. That makes it one of the top 100 birding locations in the entire country — despite not being on an open ocean flight path.

Trout Brook Preserve in Weston is another favorite place. Jory calls it “a runway for birds.”

His favorite bird is the red-breasted nuthatch. It’s small and woodpecker-like, with a blue beak and white eyeline. Its migratory pattern, call, behavior and plumage all intrigue Jory.

Not many teenagers are so taken with anything. He may mention to a friend that he got up at “a godforsaken hour” that morning, but doesn’t often talk about it. When he brings friends along, they generally like the hiking and outdoor aspect. But many don’t have his patience, or ability to weather both the physical and mental stress of birding.

Jory has found plenty of friends in the Connecticut Young Birders Club. He’s in the front row, far left.

Jory is undeterred. He loves what he does. And he looks forward to continuing his work with the Aspetuck Land Trust (he’s on their land management subcommittee).

He may not pursue ornithology as a career. He’s considering science, particularly molecular biology.

But he’ll continue to look for — and listen to — the next species. There are 10,000 in the world.

(To donate to Jory’s World Series of Birding Smith Richardson project, click here. To see some of Jory’s many photos, click here.]

Scott Smith Discovers Westport’s Hidden Gems

Scott Smith is an alert “06880” reader, a longtime Westporter and an ardent outdoorsman. He writes:

If you ask Westporters to comment on our community’s natural charms, chances are most would cite the dazzling string of beaches and coastal places: Compo Beach, Sherwood Mill Pond, Gray’s Creek and Burying Hill. If pressed, they might claims Sherwood Island too.

Others would tout the Saugatuck River, from the fly fishing shallows along Ford Road to the impoundment of Lees Pond, and the tidal stretch through town leading to the mouth at Longshore and Cedar Point. Cockenoe Island gets a shout-out, too, especially from those with the nautical means to visit it.

Fishing off Ford Road (Photo/Richard Wiese)

But plenty of other places across Westport beguile with bucolic beauty. Many of these underappreciated open spaces are in the midst of a welcome renaissance, sparked by renovation efforts from those who love and tend them.

I’m talking about the town parks, preserves, land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries that constitute our remaining inland open spaces. Over the past year or two, I’ve visited quite a few. I always come away thinking how fortunate we are to be able to trod upon them.

“06880” has covered these developments over time, noting singular efforts and improvements. But if you step back and tally them all up, it’s quite an impressive list, covering virtually every part of town.

Over in Old Hill there’s the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. I toured it a couple of seasons ago with its caretakers, including Lou Mall and tree warden Bruce Lindsay. They’re spearheading its transformation from an untended patch of blow-downs and invasive vines to a fetching enhancement to the adjacent Earthplace facility.

Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.

Coleytown has the Newman Poses Preserve, which affords a wonderful walk through meadows along the Saugatuck stream and through upland woods. Having the memory of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and their family as you traipse along is a nice bonus. Their neighbors — and the Aspetuck Land Trust — get credit for giving us that open space.

Right near downtown there’s the blossoming of long-neglected Baron’s South, another town-led reclamation project with even brighter prospects in store as a nature-driven arts campus.

A path in Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)

And just down Compo, off Greenacre Road, is the hidden gem of the Haskins Preserve, my longtime favorite place for a weekend stroll.

Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.

I have “06680” to thank for cluing me in to my newest place to take a hike: the Smith Richardson Preserve in Greens Farms. I’ve long known about the 2 parcels north of I-95. The Christmas tree farm off Sasco Creek Road is where I chop down a tree every year. I consider it in part my annual donation to the Connecticut Audubon Society, which manages the farm and the open space across the road.

But I had no idea of the separate property just across 95, a 36-acre parcel stretching from Sasco Creek all the way to the playing fields behind Greens Farms Academy off Beachside Avenue.

I walked it the other day, taking advantage of frozen ground to course through fields that are in the midst of being cleared of smothering vines and other invasive species.

It’s an impressive project, even if the space is hard by the highway and Metro-North rails. Hemmed in by neighboring houses big and small, and what looks to be a refuse depot managed by the railroad or state, the area has the look of a pocket-size Central Park in the making, with Olmstedian trails that wind through woods, and alongside meadows and ponds. I can’t wait to see how the property develops, with its ambitious new plantings and clearings, and whether the caretaking crews can keep the tick-haven invasives at bay.

Smith Richardson Preserve (Photo/Scott Smith)

These public/private corners of our community are all discovered places, at least for me. When I visit them, either with my dog or solo, I’m often the only one around. I like the solitude, and question why I’d even want to spread the word about them. Parking is often a pinch, and I’m not even sure about the proper access to the new Smith Richardson preserve behind GFA’s sprawling athletic fields.

But these largely hidden local natural spaces deserve recognition, and our support for the groups that manage them — the town, Aspetuck Land Trust, and the Connecticut Audubon Society — whether by check or volunteer hand.

Separately and together, they all make Westport a wonderful place to live and to explore.