In a fast -paced, technology driven society, it is easy to drown ourselves in our screens and lose sight of the beauty around us. One local nonprofit, the Friends of Pachaug Forest (a 501c3), has organized to inspire Connecticut residents to reconnect with one another and one of our state’s greatest resources.
Pachaug State Forest, our state’s largest forest, covers 26,477 acres. The forest is part of The Last Green Valley, which at more than 70% farm and forest is considered a National Heritage Corridor. Six Connecticut towns touch the forest: Griswold, Plainfield, Sterling, Voluntown, North Stonington, and Preston.
The founders of Friends of Pachaug Forest met through a variety of environmental action groups. The founders held their first meeting in late October of 2017, and decided action should be taken to safeguard the forest by creating events and educational opportunities to form a bigger and broader Pachaug Forest community. This organization recognized the need for a non-profit group that would have as its goals: education, recreational use, proper conservation management, volunteerism, and community support.
“Nobody is out there promoting Pachaug Forest,” explained Susan Lane, the group’s secretary. “This all started when a group of us recognized that we needed to form an organization in order to preserve the forest the way it is now. Our organization feels that we can bring out the unique qualities of the forest to share. We hope to promote the forest to get people more aware.”
With such a diverse amount of species and sites to see, visitors are bound to find a part of the forest that speaks to their interests and inspiration. Whether that be packing a lunch and climbing Mount Misery, the highest point in the forest at 441 feet; or taking a walk through the Rhododendron Sanctuary trail’s evergreen trees and bright blossoms, the forest holds a world of sights and sounds.
“There are so many ways to enjoy the world of nature,” said Allison Joslyn, a member on the board of directors. “I believe that everybody has this level of curiosity in their soul and our organization wants to harness that and build on it as much as possible. Friends of Pachaug believes that everyone who comes to the forest sees such beauty.”
With the goal to provide opportunities for the public and students of all ages to engage in agricultural, aquatic, forestry management, conservation, recreational, and wildlife use, the Friends have already organized several community events. Since October, this group has held clean up days for Earth Day, hiking tours, nature walks, kayaking and canoeing events, and also participated at the Connecticut State Parks Legislative Day.
“Some of our goals are to increase participation in the forest and provide events and activities for all different populations, whether that be children, families, adults, or people with disabilities,” said Joslyn.
Upcoming programs include special workshops and activities on aquatic bugs and critters, birds, invasive plants, geocaching at Beachdale Pond, a scavenger hunt, guided hikes and horse rides, as well as the annual picnic and membership meeting.
The Friends of Pachaug Forest’s membership program allows interested residents to help with the mission, objectives, bring creativity, and contribute to the goals of the organization. Whether you are interested in becoming a member, or volunteering to help clean up the forest or lead or participate in an event, your contribution and interest are welcomed. All donations and membership funds go to support educational opportunities and other events, unless otherwise specified.
“We hope to identify the needs of the community and other forest groups and collaborate with them. Our programs include raising social consciousness about the forest and its conservation on a local and state level,” said Joslyn.
With the wide range of activities Pachaug Forest has to offer, the Friends of Pachaug encourage residents to get out of the house, silence their phones, and discover the diversity of a beautiful forested landscape so close to home.
Visit http://www.friendsofpachaugforest.org or like the group on Facebook to keep up with the latest news, events and happenings.