Since my last visit, thanks to iNaturalist, I’ve been able to identify some of the common species. In addition to silver maples, who thrive next to rivers and streams, I’ve also found quite a few boxelder maples.
The lower story includes goldenrods, goutweed, and Virginia creeper.
Throughout my travels of VT in the past couple of weeks, the colors of fall have been most prominent, and even starting to disappear in the past few days. I was very surprised to walk into my trail at the Intervale to be greeted by green leaves, still tightly on the branches they belong to. There were, however, leaves scattered around the path and river bank.
The water level of the Winooski looked a bit lower than my last visit, which is what usually happens in the fall.
As it turns out, the trails at the Intervale don’t house much wildlife. I heard just one lone bird call during my last visit (Which sounded like a chickadee, to my very untrained ear), which was in the afternoon of October 19th, on a beautiful 60 degree sunny day. As I was just sitting there, I noticed quite a lot of noise pollution. Evidence of the road that leads to the Intervale was quite prominent, as was the train bridge located about 400m downstream of my location. Planes were both visible and audible, which is enough to deter most humans, let alone birds and other wildlife. I didn’t see any animal tracks either, or any evidence of life from the river.
If you were a Canadian goose flying over the Intervale on your way down south for the winter, this is what you might see. The Calkin Loop trail follows the Winooski river, and there’s a small island with some tree debris in the middle of the river.
The dominant woody species found here are silver maples and other maple varieties. One won’t find any pines in this part of the Intervale trails, and will notice the lack of a midstory. There is a stark difference from the tall canopy to the very low growing ground species. All of the plants on the Calkin trail serve as a riparian buffer for the Winooski River, which is very important for the protection of the Intervale farm fields, as well as a for the health of the river.
On my visit today I said hello to a family of ducks and a lone Mr. toad, who proved quite difficult to catch. I also saw evidence in the sand of a mammal that had visited my spot not too long before I. (this mysterious mammal was most likely a very friendly lab or golden retriever 😉 )
I fell in love with the idea of the Intervale when I visited the Community Center with my Environmental Studies lab, as they strive to make the world a better place through the production of and accessibility to better food. Their mission statement states:
“Our mission is to strengthen community food systems. Founded in 1988, the Intervale Center manages a 360-acre campus of farmland, trails and open space along the Winooski River in Burlington, VT. Our influence radiates out from this beloved place as we work across Vermont to enhance farm viability and land sustainability, and more broadly as we serve as a model for food and farming organizations throughout the world.”
There’s a loop of trails on the property that follows the Winooski River, called Calkins Loop. this wild and wooded area appears to be rather untouched by humans, but that is not the case. The woodland is in the process of recovering from being used as an illegal junkyard from the mid 1940’s until the late 1970’s. And if you look closely enough, you can spot remnants of vintage cars and shopping carts underneath the bright green vegetation, and the artifacts will remain there as a reminder of the past.
What is the Intervale Center, and how do I get there??
keep reading to find out!
To get to the Intervale, walk to the University Green, cross the street and head north on Prospect Street, which will eventually turn into Intervale Road. When you find yourself descending down a pretty steep hill, your’e almost there! You’ll see both the Garnder’s Supply Company and the Intervale Community Farm Center on your right. head onto the Intervale property, walk west towards the Winooski river and you’ll find a trail head. Follow the Calkin Loop for about 50ft, and you should find yourself on the sandy bank of the Winooski River, surrounded by Silver Maples, with the train bridge behind you and a curve in the river infront of you. Welcome to my phenology place 🙂