The following story was compiled from a story contributed by the Wilton Land Conservation Trust.
On Thursday, April 20, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust (WLT) and employees of ASML gathered at the Land Trust’s River Walk at Schenck’s Island to restore native habitat within the nature preserve. Together, under the WLT’s direction, the group of volunteers tended the blueberry fields, removed hundreds of square feet of invasive plants, built stone walls, and planted native plants, including blueberries, chokeberry, winterberry, and eastern red cedar trees that support birds and wildlife.
According to Wilton Land Trust Executive Director David McCarthy, the non-native invasive plants have had “free reign” on Schenck’s Island for many years, and they’ve done a lot of damage by forcing out native plants as well as wildlife that depend on them for food and habitat. The Trust’s goal for its forested section of the island is to re-establish succession lost by overpowering invasives.
“Sadly, without human intervention, the island will most likely lose its woods to the invasives,” McCarthy said. “However, by clearing out the invasives and planting the forest of the future, we’re ensuring the survival of Schenck’s Island wildlife.”
[Editor’s note: the Town of Wilton and Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited have also done extensive work in the last few years at Schenck’s Island to remove invasive plants and restore the native ecosystem.]
McCarthy added that the Wilton Land Trust is committed to restoring the forest on its end of the island and is seeking grants, funding, and partners to advance its efforts. Since 2020, the Wilton Land Trust has planted several hundred native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to restore biodiversity across its nature preserves.
The grand vision for WLT’s entranceway to its Schenck’s Island river walk is that of a bird sanctuary. As visitors enter the preserve, they’ll be greeted by birds dancing and flittering across the trail. Hikers can take watch as birds will fly from one side of the trail to the other, to go from habitat made by the planted eastern red cedar trees to eat at the blueberry fields and from the other fruit-producing native plants planted during the workday.
“This work has an intriguing aspect to it,” McCarthy said. “At the entrance, adjacent to the thriving blueberry fields, you can witness the juncture of the 18th- and 19th-century stone walls erected by the early settlers and original farmers of Schenck’s Island connecting to the 21st-century stone walls that have been constructed from stones gathered and tilled by our volunteer farmers. It is a remarkable connection across time, bridging the gap of more than two centuries between people.”
The Land Trust depends on support from the community and its stewardship volunteers to reverse damage by removing the invasives and planting natives.
“We encourage everyone to visit Schenck’s Island and make their way to our river walk. Along the trail, you will see the love, care and attention made by the Trust’s amazing volunteers working to help restore the forest,” McCarthy said.
ASML’s Ongoing Support
Corporate-sponsored workdays with the Wilton Land Trust is one of the many ways ASML has increased its engagement and support throughout the Wilton community.
ASML is an annual member of the Wilton Land Trust, supporting the Trust’s mission and helping to fuel its work with corporate-sponsored workdays and charitable contributions made to the nonprofit. This was the second corporate workday of what company officials promise are many more to come.
ASML Program Manager of Society and Community Engagement Brian Amero said is part of ASML’s efforts to enrich Wilton’s environment and connect its employees with the community.
“National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities, and be a force that transforms the world. In just five days, 225 ASML employees throughout the US contributed more than 900 hours of volunteer time to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations,” he said.
ASML’s full-time employees receive eight hours of paid time off to volunteer in the community annually. Wilton organizations like WLT appreciate what that means in helping them meet bigger goals.
“We are proud to partner with ASML to improve our open space amenities, enrich the community, restore biodiversity, and build a community centered around nature,” Wilton Land Trust Executive Director David McCarthy said. “Together, we’re making a difference in our community.”
Amero said ASML’s involvement with the Wilton Land Trust demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability as a responsible corporate resident of the Wilton community.
“ASML is proud to support the communities where our employees live, work, and play. We are committed to environmental sustainability, and our partnership with Wilton Land Conservation Trust helps preserve the natural beauty of Wilton for generations to come,” he said.
That sentiment meshes well with the Land Trust’s goals.
“Schenck’s Island is like Wilton’s Central Park, and we’re committed to ensuring it is a healthy, accessible, and biologically diverse nature preserve for wildlife to thrive and the greater Wilton Community to enjoy,” McCarthy said.
The Wilton Land Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization independent of the town of Wilton, dedicated to preserving open space, protecting natural resources, and maintaining the town’s rural character. It works closely with community partners to advance its mission of conserving land, protecting biodiversity, enhancing ecosystems, and building community. For more information about the Wilton Land Conservation Trust and its 2023 Spring Program calendar, visit the WLCT website.