Please click here for our Volunteer Information Form. It details the many skills needed to support our conservation and education efforts. 

chipper party 3.13

girl in pink




Everyone involved with GOSA is a volunteer, from the founding members, to the board members, to the many people who volunteer their skills in countless ways. Without volunteers, GOSA wouldn’t exist and its mission would remain unfulfilled. In recognition of that essential fact, the contributions of volunteers are featured in our newsletters, here on our website, and on GOSA’s Facebook page. Extraordinary service is recognized each year at our annual meeting  with our Salamander Award.  If you are not already a member and a volunteer, we hope after seeing these pictures and reading the stories you will be inspired to join us.

Candlewood Ridge Pfizer Annual Day of Caring

October 2016  For the third consecutive year, Pfizer employees, this year from Pfizer’s Manufacturing Department, spent their Pfizer Day of Caring at GOSA’s Candlewood Ridge. According to Joan Smith, GOSA’s President, this year’s volunteers were tops…. It is nice to continue to engage Pfizer personnel again in this successful land restoration project. Some asked me if Pfizer could work with GOSA every year! The answer would be, definitely yes.

The volunteers were wonderful: hardworking, intelligent, able to learn quickly and taking initiative to come up with efficient ways to get the job done. They provided weeding, fertilizing, watering and mulching to the hundreds of shrubs and trees planted by earlier groups of Pfizer personnel. The plants will now head into winter with a good start. I like the continuity of having Pfizer volunteers involved in so many stages of this project.”


October 2104 Click here to read about Pfizer’s designated “Annual Day of Caring” in The Day. An army of 65 workers from the company’s analytics department converged on the area toting shovels, pick axes, and wheelbarrows loaded with hundreds of gallons of water, sand and soil to plant native trees and shrubs. Dogwood, Virginia rose, bayberry, winterberry, ninebark, beach plum, steeplebush, pussy willow and more were planted to launch the growth of choice rabbitat thicket.

Salamander Awards

Fischer Salamander Award
GOSA’s 2016 Salamander Award recipients, Fred and Eleanor Fisher

Please click here to read GOSA President’s tribute to the Fishers.





A Day at the Sheep Farm

Marie, Si and I (Director, Whitney Adams) worked along the stone wall to the left of the Sheep Farm entrance today making four rabbitat brush piles from the brush and trees that have been removed.  There was more material than we could handle in one day so we will tackle it again tomorrow or Saturday.

We were careful to save numerous American hazelnuts (Corylus americana), Flowering Dogwoods (Benthamidia florida), an Alternate-leaved Dogwood (Swida alternifolia), Viburnumsp., Winteberry (Ilex verticillata), a Bayberry thicket (Morella caroliniensis), several clumps of Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), a Black Gum sapling (Nyssa sylvatica), three spruces (Picea sp.) and a White Pine (Pinus strobus), from some of the competing vegetation surrounding them along the transition zone between the wall and the field.

The Flowering dogwoods we found there were too heavily shaded to flower this year, but should flower next year now that more light can reach them.  We are really very fortunate to have so many flowering dogwoods growing naturally on the property.

We still have more mowing at the newly liberated field at the Sheep Farm and also Candlewood Ridge before we reach the April 15 deadline for mowing.

Whitney Adams, Director


CR clean-up11.13Candlewood Ridge Clean-up Efforts

A very dedicated team of GOSA volunteers took on the challenge of clearing the main field on the Candlewood Ridge property. The large pile of old tree stumps were moved over time by hand,  truck,  sheer force of will, and finally, with the aid of a very big tractor! The field is now ready for spring planting and restoration.

Boy Scouts wooden footbridgeBoy Scout Projects at Haley Farm

Over the years, Haley Farm has benefited from the youthful energy of the Boy Scouts who have improved this wonderful open space for all of our enjoyment.  For his Eagle Scout project back in 2000, Robert Neuman Jr., a Life Scout of Troop 2, Mystic, constructed a sturdy walkway across a marshy outflow from Goose Pond. This walkway leads us safely and comfortably to a magnificent view of the cove and the Sound beyond. Robert constructed a sign detailing the specifics of his project, and in 2007, as a Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, he returned to replace the earlier one. In 2009, John Sedensky, also a Life Scout of Troop 2 in Mystic, built a foot bridge for his Eagle Scout project  extending the walkway built by Robert Newman, Jr. over the expanded wet, muddy area draining from Goose Pond.  Peter Lewis of Noank, a Life Scout of Troop 55 of Gales Ferry, completed the large, freestanding signboard near the entrance of the Park in 2009.  He also repainted the other state signs.

Scouts Build Bridges at Candlewood Ridge  

CRBSOAbridge“Many thanks to Eagle Scout Jake Newsome, Boy Scout Troop 76, GOSA’s Jim Anderson, and the many friends and family who helped construct three bridge spans, trim trails, and pick up junk such as car fenders and bike ramps in the course of one day. Jake put in a lot of time planning, fundraising, arranging donations from local businesses and securing Inland Wetland Agency approval for this Eagle Scout project.” 

Joan Smith, GOSA President

Jake Newsome wrote to GOSA:

Thank you all so much for the wonderful opportunity CRBSOAbridge3to help the community and your organization. The project went without any issues especially due to Mr. Anderson and Mrs. Smith stepping in and taking so much of their time to be there. I really appreciate how easy GOSA is to work with along with the amount of communication that went with it. Many of my friends who do their projects talk to the beneficiaries only before and after the project is done, so all of the time everyone put in to the help with any questions or give specific directions really helped. 

Thank you again for all your help. There’s no way the project could have gotten done without it.

Yours in scouting,

Jacob Newsome

MORE Candlewood Ridge Clean Up
The photos below were taken at a Groton Open Space Association clean-up day at the Candlewood Ridge restoration site in Groton. About 185 pounds of trash, including carpets, tires, boards, 250 bottles, cans, car parts, furniture and metal objects, was picked up by volunteers. Happily, trash was not all the volunteers found! A spotted salamander, and  possibly a dusky salamander, were discovered as well.

trash pile

discarded bottlesCR clean-up Sue
CR clean-up Eco-Huskies










Si and Kate Borys Fall Fest 2012

Si and Kate Borys at the GOSA Information Booth

Groton Fall Festival  Kate and Si both enjoy GOSA activities. Kate helps with public outreach efforts, and Si has improved his health by performing hard physical work. He received a Spotted Salamander Award for his stewardship activities, and has attended advanced logging classes and the COVERTS program, both sponsored by the UConn Department of Forestry Extension Service.




IM000698.JPGBirch Plain Creek Clean-up 

As a result of the watershed survey reported on in our spring newsletter, Judy Rondeau, of the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, coordinated a cleanup at Birch Plain Creek.  About two dozen volunteers attended including representatives from GOSA, Avalonia Land Conservancy, and members of the Naval Medical Corps stationed at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. Some headed out in kayaks, returning with discarded bikes, tires and other trash; others headed out by foot along the abandoned railway spur east of the creek. The trash, piled on the side of the road, was picked up by the Groton Public Works Department the following day.


Groton Cross-Town Hike Trails Maintained by Volunteers

GOSA and the Avalonia Land Conservancy hosted the Second Annual Groton Cross-Town Hike in celebration of Connecticut Trails Day 2012, sponsored by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. Thirty-one hikers gathered for the six-mile walk on public hiking trails, which began at Bluff Point State Park on a lovely sunny day. The trails, maintained by volunteers a few days before the trek, were in perfect shape. We walked through Haley Farm State Park and on to the town-owned Mort Wright Preserve, then through GOSA’s Merritt Family Forest to town-owned Beebe Pond Park, and finally to Avalonia Land Conservancy’s Moore Woodlands and Town’s End Preserve at Beebe Cove off the Mystic River. Groton’s Parks & Recreation Department provided a bus for return transportation to the Bluff Point parking lot. Hiking through these lovely protected spaces brings home the astounding fact that we now have a greenbelt of linked protected spaces in Groton, thanks to decades of work by numerous volunteers and excellent collaboration with the state and many other organizations.  These green spaces are a treasure for present and future generations in the region to explore, as well as continuous protected habitat for a wide diversity of birds and other wildlife.


2TalonRelease6_72Owl on the Sheep Farm  

Maggie Jones, Executive Director of Dennison Pequotsepos Nature Center (DPNC), and Al Brown rescued and then released a magnificent great horned owl found caught in a leg trap on the Sheep Farm several years ago. The female owl was unusually large, 24 inches tall with a wingspan of 55 inches. Maggie and Al took the owl to the Waterford Country School (licensed for wildlife rehabilitation) for observation . She received treatment for the injured leg, and after a few days had healed sufficiently to be  taken back to the Sheep Farm for release.  Maggie and Al then watched this beautiful bird spread her wings and fly down Fort Hill Brook to a nearby tall tree. Photos by Al Brown

Turley,Ospreynest11.4.11Osprey Nest on Haley Farm

GOSA received a report that the nesting platform had taken a severe tilt.  The second week of June the osprey nest broke in two.  The eggs had hatched, the young had fledged.  The parents hung around for about two weeks.  A watcher from across the cove thought the young were flying. The state had said that the nest should not be replaced till late summer. There were various offers to build a new one.  Correspondence was received from Brian Turley who lives across Palmer Cove. His e-mail to GOSA and the State DEEP stated that: “Nest is rebuilt in my backyard ready to install. Site is cleaned up, ready for installation. Will transport material to site by boat from my back yard, and it will take a few hours to install.”

GOSA heard from Brian Turley on 3.30.12 that “Bud & Mabel are back! The two osprey (Bud named for the Budweiser cans found near the base) have been back for three or four days and are building a nest on the new platform. Maggie Jones’ calendar stated that 3.21.12 was about when they were expected back.” Brian sent a letter  stating that the “Osprey nest installation is complete. Enclosed pictures show the great crew to help, family and neighbors. Think this one will outlast me. V/R [Very Respectfully], Brian W. Turley”


Bittersweet Battle

Volunteers Jim Anderson (pictured) and Fred Ruszala decimated the invasive jungle in the gorge area of the Sheep Farm.  A single section of the bittersweet pictured weighed in at   approximately one pound per inch. Consider the impact of a single 50-foot vine weighing 600 pounds hanging on a tree. This tree had seven.



Chain Saw Trio

In 19 degree weather, Peter Chappell and Directors Whitney Adams and Charlie Boos (left to right) had at it with chain saws to cut up the Norway maple downed from storm damage on the Sheep Farm.



Chipper party

Sheep Farm Chipper Party Crew Relaxes after Weekend of Hard Work

On some beautiful, sunny days with highs in the 40s, 13 workers on Saturday and 10 on Sunday ( for a total of 112 hours of work with the heavy-duty chipper) eliminated the piles of branches from downed  trees, cut up felled trees and dug up honeysuckle.  The place looks great, and everyone loved the pizza and other goodies.  




Leave a Reply