Executive Director of Sales, Westport & Wilton
Written by Jeannette Ross
Fans of Claude Monet might look at Horseshoe Pond this summer, with its mantle of water lilies, and see a thing of beauty. But for most of the people who live in that neighborhood — not so much.
A group of neighbors, with the blessing of the Wilton Conservation Commission, is planning to continue an all-out assault on the lilies this year in an attempt to eradicate as many as possible that have taken over the six-acre man-made pond.
Anne Deware, who is spearheading the project, will be at the Village Market on Saturday, April 28, from 10 to 3, with flyers and photos of what the neighbors hope to accomplish. They will also be asking for contributions, either monetary or materials.
“Young’s Nursery is lending us a palm tree to use as a giving tree,” Ms. Deware said. It will be festooned with pictures of needed items costing from $10 to $100.
The group would like to purchase or borrow canoes or small boats, wetsuits, waders and boots, gloves, spades and shovels, life vests, and wheelbarrows. Ms. Deware hopes to raise about $5,000 to buy needed materials. The town has invested $1,000 this season for a canoe and other supplies.
Halstead Property has also pledged support. “They have offered their office facilities in Wilton to the cause and will provide space for us to hold meetings, allow us to use copy machines, and will be a drop-off point for donations,” Ms. Deware said.
Ms. Deware is also hoping to recruit some volunteers to help not only with yanking lilies but also to clean up the dead-end of Horseshoe Road.
“There was a path that went around the pond,” Ms. Deware said. “It’s all overgrown although a lot of people like to walk down there.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in the project may call Ms. Deware at 203-762-8256 or email email@example.com .
According to Ms. Deware and Pat Sesto, Wilton’s director of environmental affairs, the pond was originally a wooded marsh, which a former property owner had cleared to turn into a pond. It is fed by a spring.
Somewhere along the way, it is thought in the 1960s, some lily pads were put in at the south end. They were never constrained, and by 1990, they just about covered the pond, which is owned by the town.
Although they are not a foreign or invasive species, water lilies, Ms. Sesto said, “are like pachysandra. When it’s happy it just keeps marching.”
The pond is quite shallow and thus perfect lily habitat.
Since the early 90s, the Conservation Commission has tried to deal with them in a number of ways. Hydroraking was unsuccessful because there are so many stumps and logs in the pond. Dropping the water level in the winter to freeze the roots did not work well, in part because the ground water coming up does not freeze. To dredge the pond would cost $2 million, Ms. Deware said.
What does appear to work is pulling the lilies out by the roots, which one property owner around the pond spent a considerable amount of time doing last year.
Ms. Deware said a group of volunteers and paid workers will concentrate on the north end of the pond along Horseshoe Road this summer, as soon as the water is warm enough. That could be the end of June or early July. They hope to clear an acre and a half. Cleared areas can be more easily maintained to prevent a lily resurgence.
The lily eradication is purely an aesthetic project, Ms. Sesto said. Pulling them or not pulling them is not detrimental to the pond in any way. The lilies, however, have discouraged waterfowl and there are not as many fish as there used to be, Ms. Deware said.
At some point in the future, “not in my lifetime,” Ms. Sesto said, the pond will eventually revert to its origins, first as a marsh, then a swamp with herbaceous vegetation, then trees.
Sunday, April 22, 2012