By Laurie Heiss & Jane Ross, November 2015
There is one property preserved forever by the Redding Land Trust with two claims to fame. A 10-acre parcel once owned by Dan Beard, a founder of the Boy Scouts, is also the site of a legendary configuration of stones dubbed the “elephant walk” where P.T. Barnum is said to have once corralled his circus elephants. Now overgrown and full of invasives, the property was ideal for applying for and winning a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services in order to re-habilitate this historic land and to restore it to its natural diversity.
On the misty, cool morning of October 3 this fall, the Land Trust’s project manager Laurie Heiss greeted Redding Scoutmasters Kevin Blackwell and Jim Anderson as well as a dozen or so Scouts and their various siblings to 2 Dan Beard Lane to work side by side with RLT volunteers and Trail Tenders under the leadership of Stuart Green. Energy was high and everyone warmed up as they took on the removal of unwanted undergrowth, invasives and stacked cut-up fallen wood into several wildlife habitats. These wood stacks allow small mammals, like the endangered eastern cottontail and others, to run into the piles for protection from predators.
Tasks also included ‘selective trimming’ of barberry and a follow up of garlic mustard removal that had been the focus of the project’s first work party on May 9. Interpretive signs are being designed for installation next year; one will be about Dan Beard and will include information provided by Redding Boy Scouts.