Sustainable Landscapes

Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces

What is Extension – New Video Released

UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.

CTSG, Avalonia project looks to prepare forest for the future

By Judy Benson

A sign marks the entrance to the Hoffman Evergreen Preserve in Stonington.
The Hoffman Evergreen Preserve is off Route 201 in Stonington, near the North Stonington town line. Photo: Beth Sullivan

Stonington – Battered by coastal storms and infestations of wooly adelgids, gypsy moth, winter moth and emerald ash borer, sections of the 200-acre Hoffman Evergreen Preserve will now serve as a living lab and demonstration site for how land managers can help forests adapt to climate change.

“We want to increase the resilience of the forest and maintain the water quality filtration services it provides to Long Island Sound,” said Juliana Barrett, coastal habitat specialist for Connecticut Sea Grant. “We’re trying to plant the right trees for the right time.”

Owned by the Avalonia Land Conservancy and popular with hikers and bird watchers, sections of the forest became unsafe over the last decade due to large numbers of diseased and storm-damaged trees. That prompted the land trust to contract with Hull Forest Products to do selective logging in 2019 that left open areas that will now be the subject of a joint project between Avalonia and CT Sea Grant.

“This is about helping to restore a healthy forest,” said Beth Sullivan, Stonington chairperson for Avalonia. “It’s something we’ve been working towards for the last five to six years.”

A grant of $57,144 from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, announced last week, will provide funds for the development of a unique forward-looking forest management plan for the cleared areas, along with a series of public education programs. Barrett said the project is one of the first of its kind in Connecticut that incorporates climate change projections and assisted migration techniques for plants better adapted to future conditions. Some seedlings and seeds will be planted as part of the yearlong project, chosen both for their ability to regenerate under future climate conditions and their value as food sources for wildlife. Robert Ricard, a forester and senior extension educator with UConn, will help develop the plan and planting list, and provide guidance on the best locations for particular species.

“We’re going to try some species at the edge of their limits in Connecticut that, based on climate change projections, we think will do well,” Barrett said.

Many trees and large branches were felled by a series of coastal storms, disease and insect infestations, causing the hiking trails to become unsafe.
Many trees and large branches in the preserve were felled by a series of coastal storms, disease and insect infestations, causing the hiking trails to become unsafe. Photo: Beth Sullivan

Instead of replanting the same species of hemlocks, oaks and ash shown to be vulnerable to the pests and weather disruptions brought by climate change, the plan will identify tree and shrub species likely to be more resilient in warmer temperatures. These could include loblolly pine, tulip poplar, sweetgum and others more common in the mid-Atlantic region. About a dozen loblolly pine seedlings planted last spring, in fact, have already become well established despite last summer’s drought, Sullivan said.

The preserve, located at the north end of town several miles from the shoreline, nonetheless provides important services to Long Island Sound by absorbing runoff and filtering pollutants that would end up in the estuary, Barrett noted.

The public education component was developed with Avalonia project collaborator Sharon Lynch, George Washington University professor emerita in the School of Education and Human Development. An expert in science teacher education, Lynch currently works on education initiatives with the National Science Foundation. The education component will consist of a series of four webinars on topics relevant to the project, including the history of New England forests and the carbon sequestration services they provide. The series is intended for municipal officials, land trust officials, forest landowners and the general public. In addition, a two-day workshop on guiding principles for coastal forest resilience in the Long Island Sound region will be offered specifically for municipal officials, resource managers, land trust officials, forest landowners and students. An accompanying fact sheet will be developed and published.

Nancy Balcom, CT Sea Grant associate director of CT Sea Grant, said she hopes the project will provide valuable information for land managers throughout the region.

“Given the devastation our local forests have suffered which threatens their ability to provide critical ecosystem and recreational services, it’s important to not only test the ability of new species to survive and thrive in our changing climate but to also share the progress and results widely so other land trusts and organizations can pursue similar paths,” she said.

Areas cleared of diseased and dead trees will be replanted with species of seeds and seedlings chosen to adapt to changing climate conditions.
Areas cleared of diseased and dead trees will be replanted with species of seeds and seedlings chosen to adapt to changing climate conditions. Photo: Beth Sullivan

Barrett said the lessons learned at the Hoffman preserve will be shared with other land trusts and land managers, and hopes that tours of the site can be offered in the future to show how different plant species are adapting. The project, she said, will be an opportunity “to educate and engage land trust stewards, resource managers, municipal officials and neighbors in understanding coastal forest ecosystem services, impacts of climate change on these systems and guiding principles for management under changing conditions.”

The grant for the Hoffman Preserve, which will be matched with $33,600 in in-kind services from Avalonia volunteers, is one of 38 awarded in this year’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund program. The 15-year-old program combines funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support projects that improve the water quality and restore habitat in the Long Island Sound watershed. This year, $3.8 million in funding will support 15 projects in Connecticut, 14 in New York, three in Massachusetts, three in Vermont, one in New Hampshire and two in multiple states.

“It is heartwarming to see innovation at work, people and organizations getting together, planning and acting now for what the world will look like in decades,” said Sylvain De Guise, director of CT Sea Grant. “At the same time, it is encouraging that grant programs are open enough to recognize and fund innovation, even if riskier than sticking with old habits.

“I think we are heading in the right direction,” he concluded.

Judy Benson is the communications coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant.

Original Post

Ornamentals & Turf Course

plant diseaseThis year has been unique for everyone. All of us have been impacted in one way or another. We sincerely hope that you and your family are doing well and the pandemic has not touched you or your family. We at UConn Extension have been striving to put this course online for your convenience. While we understand that an online course is simply not the same as in person, this is where we are in the world today. We will certainly miss the interaction we have with all of you in the classroom as well.

There are some advantages to having an online course though, first you can work when it’s most convenient for you. You can also take the course in small chunks rather than sitting through a 3-hour lecture. You don’t have to leave your job or business to take the course either.

This Short Course is an in depth review of the information necessary for studying and fulfilling the requirements of the Ornamental and Turf/Golf Course Superintendents State of Connecticut Supervisory Pesticide Applicator Certification exam. A student completing all the modules, working through the quizzes, and studying resources materials independently should be able to successfully pass the examination, both written and oral state exam. Expect to spend at least 8 hours on each module.

Class topics are: Pesticide Laws and Regulations, Pesticide Safety, Botany and Ornamental Identification, Plant Pathology and Ornamental Plant Diseases, Entomology and Insect Pests of Woody Ornamentals, Area and Dosage Calculations, Turf Management and Weed Management. Each class begins with a basic overview of the science then takes an in-depth look at specific pests, their biology and control.

We have developed the course into 8 modules. Each module is broken down into Parts. Each part begins with learning objectives followed by slides with a narrative. PDFs of the slides are available for printing. Each Part will close with a summary and quiz on the contents of the part just viewed. Please take the quizzes seriously and take the time to write out your answers, as this will help you retain the important points from each Part and be useful for studying for the final exam as well as the state exam.

Each week on Tuesday evenings at 5:30, we plan to introduce a new module for you to work through during the week. The following Tuesday we will do a short debrief of the module you just completed and introduce the next module, again followed with a debrief the next Tuesday and so on for 8 weeks.

This does not include the required Pesticide Applicator Training Manual, (aka “The Core Manual”), which can ordered from UConn MarketPlace under the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Extension at:
https://secure.touchnet.com/C21646_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=29
Click on Department of Extension box.

The core Manual can also be found and downloaded from the “National Association
of State Departments of Agriculture” at the following link:
https://www.nasda.org/foundation/pesticide-applicator-certification-and-training

An additional resource which is very highly recommend by CT DEEP, and is free from the website below it is called, “Turfgrass Nutrient and Integrated Pest Management Manual”, edited by Tim Abbey. This is really is a must read and necessary resource: http://cag.uconn.edu/documents/Turfgrass-IPM-manual-s.pdf

There is also an optional manual called “Ornamental and Turf, Category 3 manual” available from Cornell, it cost $41.00 plus shipping and handling. https://www.cornellstore.com/3.-Ornamental-And-Turf
Check for used copies of these books with your colleagues or online, yes, even check Amazon.

Register for the online course here.

Click on the Orn & Turf Class box. Make sure to check out as guest.

For questions or more information, please contact Diane, diane.labonia@uconn.edu

 

UConn Extension: Committed to a Sustainable Future 

fall newsletter collage of three pictures and story titles

Connecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. UConn Extension educators work in all 169 cities and towns of Connecticut to help solve the problems that our residents, communities, and state face. Connecting people with agriculture, the natural environment, and healthy lifestyles are critical components to a sustainable future. Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities for the next generation.

Read the fall newsletter.

Trails 101 Video Series Helps New Users Enjoy CT Trails

hands holding a trail mapThis time of the year, Connecticut residents are heading outside to enjoy the cool fall temperatures and beautiful New England scenery. Connecticut offers a wealth of outdoor spaces from city parks to rural area trail systems where people can engage in all types of activities such as hiking, biking, and nature watching while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Spending time outdoors is a great way to get exercise, reduce stress, and can be a good educational experience for kids of all ages. Additionally, doing activities outside can increase happiness and wellbeing.

For new trail users, heading onto the trails can seem a bit overwhelming as it can be hard to know what to expect on the trails.  Information about what to pack, eat, and how to navigate trail systems is not always widely available. This is why we have launched a new video series called Trails 101 on our Connecticut Trails webpage. This series of four videos explains to trail users everything they need to know before stepping onto the trails. The videos cover topics such as how to prepare for a hike, what to bring, trail etiquette, and the leave no trace principles. Trail users of all levels have a responsibility to know how to respect themselves, others, and the environment when heading out into nature. These videos provide the tools needed for a successful adventure on Connecticut trails. 

Other resources available for new trail users include websites such as AllTrails.com, a crowd-sourced website. AllTrails is a great resource to help people locate hikes in their area. On AllTrails, trails can be sorted by difficulty level, length, and type of trail. There is information about features of the trail such as vistas and waterfalls, and accessibility of the trails. The hikes are posted by community members so they do not always include all information available so cross checking with trail managing organizations would also be helpful. The benefit of AllTrails being a crowd-sourced website is that other trail users can leave reviews of the hike and the current conditions to help others decide if the trail is right for them at that time.

Another online resource for finding trails is the Connecticut Forest and Park Association Interactive Map. This map helps hikers find blue blazed trails near them. The website includes an informational video on how to use the interactive map which we would highly recommend watching as it shows just how helpful this interactive map can be. 

As helpful as all these online resources can be, sometimes, the best option is a paper map. Paper maps can be printed from the internet, purchased from the organization that maintains the trail of interest, or, sometimes, found for free at trailhead information huts. Since cell service is not always available and cell phones can run out of battery, it’s always good to be prepared by having a paper trail map.

A final resource trail users should explore before heading outside is the Leave No Trace website which provides information on how to be a responsible trail user. On the website, they discuss the 7 principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). These principles outline ways humans can make the least amount of impact on the environment when visiting natural places. We all live in the same environment so it is the job of everyone to help preserve it. These principles are not hard to follow yet they have a huge impact on preserving our wild places. For example, the LNT principles of disposing of waste properly and traveling on durable surfaces are small actions trail users can take to maintain the beauty of the natural environments we all enjoy recreating in.

After watching the Trails 101 video series, looking at websites like AllTrails.com, and reviewing the LNT principles, it’s time to hit the trail, get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy exploring all Connecticut has to offer.

Article by Marissa Dibella


These videos were made possible by a generous gift from the David and Nancy Bull Extension Innovation Fund to the UConn PATHS Team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. PATHS is an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health and communities, and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.  Our team works in a wide variety of departments and disciplines including public health, health education, nutrition, community development, and landscape architecture.

Written and produced October 2020 by Jenifer Nadeau,  Michael Puglisi,  Umekia Taylor, Stacey Stearns,  Dianisi Torres, Laura Brown, Mike Zaritheny, with review and special assistance from Dea Ziso, Marissa Dibella, Laurie Giannotti, Claire Cain, Kristen Bellantuono, Kim Bradley, and Amy Hernandez.

Chilling Injury Affects Turf Across Region

patches of blighted turf
Chilling injury appears as tan patches of blighted turf uniformly distributed across athletic field.

John Inguagiato, Ph.D. and Vickie Wallace, UConn

Michelle DaCosta, Ph.D. UMass

Turf managers and homeowners have been puzzled by the sudden appearance of unusual tan, blighted patches that showed up last week between Tuesday and Friday (Nov. 3 – 6). Reports have been widespread throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

The symptoms appear as round to irregular-shaped patches of light-tan blighted turf (Figure 1 & 5). Patches are often uniformly distributed across affected turf areas. Density of patches may vary from one every 2 feet to as little as a few inches, with some patches coalescing into larger, irregular shapes (Figure 5). Early onset of symptoms appeared silver-gray to dark purple before turning tan (Figure 2). Symptoms appear to be limited to the upper portion of the turf canopy (Figure 3). Foliage lower in the canopy, stems and crowns do not appear to be injured in most cases.

All cool-season turfgrasses have been reported to be affected. Injury seems to be most severe on exposed, well-fertilized, irrigated lawns and fields. Symptoms on turf maintained at lower mowing heights (e.g., putting greens, fairways, some athletic fields), and newly established areas appears to be less severe.

Chilling injury is rare in New England on cool-season turfgrasses. Many experienced New England turf managers have commented in the past few days that they have never seen anything like this. Symptoms similar to these are more common in the south, on warm-season bermudagrass when exposed to sudden cold weather. However, chilling injury has also been reported in the desert southwest on overseeded perennial ryegrass (Moon et al, 1990).

The recent injury to turfgrasses throughout the region is likely due to a unique combination of environmental conditions impacting the physiological activity of turfgrasses. Cold tolerance of cool-season turfgrasses generally develops during November and December over an acclimation period of slowly decreasing temperatures. This acclimation period prepares turf to tolerate cold winter temperatures. However, turf has been actively growing, green, and photosynthesizing in many areas throughout the region this fall, indicating it has not yet acclimated to cold temperatures.

A Perfect Storm

Throughout much of October daily low temperatures were rarely below 40°F. However, a sustained period of cold to freezing daily low temperatures occurred from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. (Figure 4). These cold temperatures also coincided with a very dry air mass (dew points approximately 15 to 20°F), and moderate sustained winds with gusts over 30 mph on Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 2 & 3). Moreover, Nov. 2 & 3 were particularly sunny days with high light intensity (solar radiation ~675 to 750 W/m2 ).

• Sudden onset of cold temperatures

• Dry air and wind (excessive transpiration)

• High light intensity

Similar chilling conditions have been demonstrated to impair the photosynthetic machinery of perennial ryegrass (Moon et al, 1990). When normal photosynthetic processes are interrupted under high light, damaging free radicals can be produced that can destroy important membranes within cells. Ultimately, the integrity of the cells is affected, foliage becomes desiccated, and blight symptoms occur.

Unique Patterns

The unique patterns associated with the chilling injury are more difficult to explain. It is not entirely clear why areas of the same turf are differentially affected. It is likely due in part, to how turbulent air moves across the surface, affecting where cold pockets of air settle to injure turf

Recovery Outlook

Fortunately, in most cases the symptoms associated with this chilling injury appear to be superficial. Only the upper canopy has generally been affected. Crowns remain healthy, and therefore blighted foliage will grow out. It is possible that with continued warm weather, actively growing turf may fully recover this fall. However, in many cases it is more likely that symptoms will persist through the winter until spring when growth resumes, and blighted tissue is mowed off.

Fertilizing to encourage growth and recovery of the symptoms this fall is not recommended. Since a late fall fertilization can promote succulent turf growth, delaying acclimation and increasing potential for snow mold and other forms of winter injury.

Click here to view the pdf.

What has changed on your trails as a result of COVID-19?

survey that shows sad, neutral, and happy face with an arrow pointing to the happy face
Our Connecticut Trail Census has launched a survey to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trails and trail management. The survey is intended for trail managers of non-motorized trails in Connecticut takes about 10 minutes to complete. Please take a few moments to respond to the survey. The survey will remain open until Wednesday, November 25.

Job Opening: Director of Communications

food, health, and sustainability are three of CAHNR's focus areas

Job Opening: The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at the University of Connecticut is seeking a full-time Director of Communications. Reporting to the Dean, the incumbent in this position will provide vision, leadership, and direction to support CAHNR’s communication and marketing strategies and promote its brand and reputation. The Communications Director must be an energetic, creative and dedicated leader who is accessible and responsive to faculty, staff and students and fosters collaboration and an organizational culture that promotes diversity and inclusion.

Full information is available at https://bit.ly/CAHNR_Comm_Dir.