Every week since January 2011, Westport ninth-grader Peter Hartwell and mentor David Thomas Train have been exploring the Champlain Area Trails and observing every nook and cranny for evidence of wildlife and their actions. Those explorations eventually prompted them to enter the Champlain Area Trails Travel Writing Contest, and their entry won them the first place prize of $500! Here is an except from their essay:
“Just on the northern edge of the village, we tramped the Stonysides Trail, turning over logs for hard-to-see decomposers like millipedes, fungi, and earthworms. They were everywhere, turning old trees back into potent soil. As we returned to the truck, we thought we spied a passing gray fox in sun-dappled underbrush. A mile further north, on a damp dark day at Coon Mountain, we counted 77 red efts near the trail. Coming home to number-crunch, we extrapolated a possible 43,560 of them in one acre, 10,454,000 at the Coon Mountain Preserve, and perhaps (with 50 percent attrition from nature and unsuitable habitat) a quarter of a billion in the Adirondack Park. Gadzooks!
So, how do we get about? Most of the time we’ve ambled, but also have snow-shoed and canoed, and connected our further-flung trails by car. The nearby path that goes up Hoisington Brook in a middle-of-town oasis. This park connects to the shore, and was given to the town by a long-time resident. Fisher, fox, mink, and coyote are able to travel here without detection—from the woods above town, down to the lakeshore. Who would have thunk it—a wildlife corridor right through a downtown?!?” [Read in full at Wildlife, Connected In and Out of Town | Champlain Area Trails.]
- Lake Champlain Region Heritage (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- It’s Voting Time in the Travel Writing Contest (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- A Great Resolution