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—Jeannette Ross photos
A pond that was previously choked with weeds and vines and pretty much hidden from view is having its “reveal” thanks to volunteers from ASML, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust and the Norwalk River Watershed Association.
The one-acre pond at Slaughter Fields on Piper’s Hill Road had its day in the sun, literally, on Monday morning, April 29, as about 40 people worked intently ripping out invasive species and dead tree limbs, making way for hundreds of native shrubs and plants.
“Until recently, you couldn’t see the pond for the vines and invasives,” said Steve White, a member of the land trust’s executive committee who was at the workday. “We knew it would be beautiful if we could just uncover it. We’re also working on a trail that will be open to the public,” he said.
Slaughter Fields consists of 14 acres on Piper’s Hill Road and two acres on Nod Hill Road. Among the plants to be introduced are arrowwood, black haw, cranberry, gray dogwood, holly, spicebush, ferns, lobelia, and summersweet. All will support caterpillars that will feed native birds, such as catbirds and thrushes, as well as turn into butterflies and moths that act as pollinators.
Work began at the pond last fall, but White said the land trust knew it would need many hands to get the work done.
Cathy Smith, who is secretary of the watershed association, helped put ASML and the land trust together for the project, which is on land trust property. She and association President Louise Washer have made several visits to ASML during its expansion project, to ensure the Norwalk River, which runs near the chip maker’s property, is not negatively impacted.
“They take their role as stewards of the environment seriously,” Smith said of ASML. “We got to know them when we did our site walks.
“They’ve been a tremendous partner.”
Heading up the ASML team at the site was Halie Beckert, an environmental specialist at the company. She leads the “Green Team” at the company which includes about 20 employees, none of whom work in an environmental capacity but are concerned about the environment. ASML allows its employees eight hours of paid community service time and Beckert contacted Smith and Washer, saying her team wanted to do something for Earth Day.
“This is our first effort for the Green Team, which was started in January,” she said, adding the group’s focus is on sustainability. When the project was nailed down, it was opened to the wider ASML community.
Originally planned for Friday, but rained out, Beckert said she was surprised to see so many people showed up on a Monday morning.
“They really want to be here,” she said. “We really want to give back and make this an ASML project with work on the weekends,” she added. “I’m really excited to see what the future brings.”