How Marshlands Conservancy Keeps a Tiny Carbon Footprint

We use quiet, hand tools and equipment whenever possible. This has been a priority since our inception.

In the summer and fall months, when you drive down the long, curving road to the visitor center, you are surrounded by the constant noise of leaf blowers and lawn mowers and the smell of gas. But these sounds and smell diminish by the time you reach the shaded conservancy parking lot.

Here you will see the living natural environment. Leaves and plant stalks in the conservancy are left on the ground over the winter, to decompose, enrich the soil, add a protective layer for roots, and to provide shelter for numerous creatures that will emerge from underneath them come spring.

 

Since leaves are literally the food factories for trees, when they fall to the ground in autumn, their nutrients are returned to the soil by decomposition, naturally fertilizing the soil. The woolly bear caterpillars (larvae) of the isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) and the spectacular giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) are just a few of the creatures that look for a safe place to hibernate in winter beneath a protective layer of dead leaves.

The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) spends the winter dormant under the leaf litter beneath an insulated blanket of snow. In spring, these woolly bears become active, form a cocoon, and metamorphose into isabella tiger moths. The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) also hibernates over the winter. In spring, it will also spin itself into a cocoon to metamorphose into a giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia)


The wooly bear caterpillar (larva) of the isabella moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) —  Wikipedia - Bruce Hallman

Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) — Wikipedia-Steve Jurvetson



 

Dead grasses or flowers are not cut or mowed in the fall. Their seeds will provide food for birds all winter long.

The insides of dead, hollow stalks shelter many creatures, including some of the over 4,000 species of native bees, 70 percent of which lay their eggs in nests made in the ground or in dried-out hollow stalks. Emerging in spring, native bees are one of the essential early pollinators of many plants, including the first blossoms of the native red maple (Acer rubrum), and apple tree (Malus domestica). Most native bees are solitary, have no colony to defend, are not aggressive, and are essential for pollination. (See xerces.org).

Pesticides and herbicides, which have been responsible for destroying ecosystems and indiscriminately killing innumerable native plants and native insects, pests and non-pests alike, are avoided in favor of mechanical removal whenever possible.

Decomposing leaves, trees, and branches, on the property of the conservancy, are used to mulch the land. Store bought mulch, often artificially colored, and baked in factories to kill off beneficial insects and mold spores, is never used at the conservancy.


The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the giant leopard moth (Hypercombe scribonia) — Wikipedia-Micha L. Rieser

Giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) — Wikipedia- Jeremy Johnson



 

Whenever possible we use hand-powered tools to clear vegetation.

When possible, instead of using chainsaws to fell trees, we use teamwork and hand saws. And hand rakes are favored over leaf blowers to move leaves. Every year, about 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 6.4 million barrels of oil, are emitted into the air in the US by leaf blowers alone. Regular groups of hard-working volunteers help maintain the conservancy, getting a healthy physical workout in the clean air at the same time.