Letter: Hundreds of species found at Weir Farm

To the Editors:

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial in 2016 and to kick it off in Connecticut, Weir Farm National Historic Site hosted a National Parks BioBlitz on May 20 and 21.

We are thrilled to report that more than 350 school children, 25 scientists and experts, and 150 visitors created a master inventory of 450 species found at the park. The list of birds, mammals, insects, and plants will be used to help park staff and local partners maximize biodiversity in and around the Weir Farm National Historic Site (NHS).

This collaborative event was made possible by many partners and community supporters. Friends of Weir Farm NHS, the Town of Ridgefield Conservation Commission, the Weir Preserve, and Woodcock Nature Center were key organizing partners that worked tirelessly to gather scientific equipment, secure donations of food for volunteers, and provide technical and logistical support. During the event, they led educational programs and tours, helped staff the pop-up science center, and made sure volunteers and staff were well fed.

A great team of scientists, educators, and artists led tours and scoured the park in search of species, freely lending their remarkable expertise. They hailed from UConn-Storrs and UConn-Waterbury, University of Saint Joseph, Western Connecticut State University, Yale University, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Connecticut DEEP-Wildlife Division, Connecticut Natural Science Illustrators, Groundwork Bridgeport, New Pond Farm, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Redding Land Trust, and Westchester-Connecticut Mycological Association. Our thanks also go to Bartlett Arboretum and Scofield Magnet Middle School for loaning special equipment, field guides, and a computer magnifying camera.

We also thank local businesses for their much-appreciated support, including: Caraluzzi's Market, Sand Wedge & Deli, Cain Enterprises of Norwalk, Inc. (Dunkin’ Donuts), Costco in Norwalk, Ambler Farm, Connecticut Coffee & Grill, Diamond Deli Stop & Shop, Subway in Wilton, and Village Market.

This wonderful event was part of the larger National Parks BioBlitz, with more than 100 national parks across the country celebrating biodiversity in parks to commemorate the National Park Service Centennial. We hope it is just the start of engaging both longtime supporters and new audiences in 2016.
Linda Cook, Superintendent
Weir Farm National Historic Site