The Aspetuck Land Trust was established four years before Earth Day, so we welcome it to the age of 50!  We know the best and most productive decade is still ahead.

No surprise, our goals have been aligned for every one of those 50 years: saving the planet.

You probably know us best for our preserve Trout Brook Valley (including Crow Hill and Jump Hill), former water company land we saved from a golf course and home developer 20 years ago, largely in Easton. Or one of our four board members from Easton.

It’s amazing to recall how different our concerns were 30 years earlier when Earth Day started in 1970.  Then we weren’t worried so much about carbon footprints or gas mileage (premium was 37 cents a gallon!), but instead about companies cutting down trees, filling in wetlands and open spaces with houses, and polluting our air and waterways. Concerns we learned from Silent Spring author Rachel Carson.

Photo Credit: Nancy Breakstone Photography

We sort of lucked out starting in 1966 that our conserving 150 properties of open space comprising more than 1,940 acres of land was just the right thing to do in the face of a changing climate. We didn’t even know for years the climate was changing!

Now we all know saving the planet means being laser-focused on the climate crisis and everything we do is judged by how it makes that worse or better.

So now we’ve extended our mission to save more land by involving private homeowners — in addition to farmers and owners of large parcels — in Easton, Weston, Fairfield and Westport. The initiative is all tied to fighting the climate crisis one backyard at a time. It’s called the Green Corridor.

Here are the actions we think you can take today to help the health of our planet and properly celebrate Earth Day’s Diamond birthday. While keeping your social distance, of course.

• First, get grounded in the indisputable science simply described by the world’s expert in backyard biodiversity, Doug Tallamy, in his new book Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. We think it’s so important that all our neighbors read Doug’s book ($29.95 at retail) that we will deliver a copy free to your mailbox if you become an Aspetuck Land Trust member at any level starting at $50.

• Second, less reading but great local information, specific guidance and resources for homeowners about joining the Green Corridor. Get all the details on the three things you can do right now and April is the perfect time: Plant native plants. Rethink your lawn. Avoid pesticides and herbicides. On the same page, you can become a Green Corridor Partner and get your mailbox sign to encourage your neighbors.

• Third, get outside! Self-isolation doesn’t require staying inside. Unlike many town parks and beaches, we’ve kept all our preserves open for hiking. But we insist on three simple rules: no groups except the people cooped up together in your house, no dogs and no illegal parking on local streets if our lots are full. We’ve made it incredibly easy to find a nature preserve nearest you. Once you’ve identified two, print out hiking maps to take with you (with driving directions) – two in case one parking lot is full. Please read our COVID-19 Trail Policy before heading out.

Photo Credit: Tracy Pennoyer

• Fourth, stay home! Have a Backyard Safari exploring your own backyard with your children and grandchildren using mobile phone apps to identify the plants and critters you find. And share your findings in our Backyard Safari in the Green Corridor on Facebook.

• Finally, sign up to volunteer and work outside on the trails or at home helping us spread the word.

Do you remember the picture of the Earth from the Moon that started as the symbol of Earth Day? How it emotionally drove home the idea that we are altogether on just this one spaceship, and we don’t have a spare?

Do any of these things I’ve listed — why not all five? — and you will be celebrating Earth Day by helping save the planet. What could be better than that?

Photo Credit: Nancy Moon

Photo at top: Aspetuck Land Trust. — David Gunn Photo

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