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Notes from the Trail with Dan

Hello GOSA Members and Volunteers! My name is Dan O’Connell, the President of Groton Open Space Association, Inc. It occurred to me recently that we should communicate with our membership more frequently, as you our members, trust us to do what is necessary to accomplish our mission. We work hard to accomplish that goal and I wanted to share some of that with you. I plan to send out some ‘Notes’ every few months to keep you informed of GOSA’s recent activities and remind you that we appreciate your support. Together we make a fine team.

There are many things going on and we would like you to know about them. Our Board of Directors added two outstanding new members over the last few months – Janet Andersen and Ken Paonessa. Look to our website in the coming weeks to learn more about them. They have already been making an impact and our team continues to get stronger. We are also adding great people to our committees which do so much of the work for GOSA. Our committee volunteers are a huge part of running our organization and we couldn’t do it without them.

Our Finance Committee is doing a great job, as always, managing all donations, paying bills, meeting state and federal reporting requirements, applying for grants, and much more. Being anon-profit, 100% volunteer organization is a wonderful thing, but it relies on talented people who are willing to donate their time. We are fortunate to have such people who are knowledgeable, dedicated, reliable, and pleasant to work with.

Our Acquisitions & Land Research Committee successfully acquired the Center Groton Preserve property late last year. Acquisitions are a long process and require a lot of effort to ensure we are diligent in our evaluations, grant seeking, and fundraising to support the purchase. We are awaiting a professional survey to be performed this spring before we clear and mark trails.

After the acquisition of Center Groton Preserve, GOSA now owns more than 700 acres to manage and make accessible to our community. Our Property Planning and Management Committee is busy partnering with forestry experts on forest management studies and to develop property management plans for each property. This investment in research helps us better understand what challenges our forests are experiencing and how we can help to ensure they are healthier as a result. We expect much of the cost of these studies and the work required to act on the experts’ recommendations to be covered by grants available for this purpose. 

Our Stewardship Committee also plays a major role in managing our properties. From building and managing existing and future trails, to fighting invasive vegetation and clearing vines from trees and walls, to building and maintaining bridges. Stewardship volunteers are vital to the health and accessibility of our properties. The regular Stewardship crew is a dedicated and fun group of individuals who keeps our properties safe and a pleasure to explore. We rely heavily on them, and they are always ready to help.

Our Community Outreach Committee continues to do amazing things through different engagements within the community. To get the word out about GOSA and our properties while also focusing on the “education and appreciation of nature” portion of our mission, GOSA developed a partnership with Groton Public Schools (GPS), the Town of Groton, and Groton Parks and Recreation known as GO GROTON. After a terrific year of hosting hikes with GPS students, teachers, and families, we are seeing an increase in participation and activity at our properties. As of mid-March, we have 11 scheduled hikes involving 32 elementary school classes. By giving hundreds of children and families opportunities to experience nature on our properties we hope to inspire the next generation to take the reins of our organization and support it. In 2024, we commenced monthly community hikes on the first Sunday of each month on a different GOSA property. Our first hike at Avery Farm Nature Preserve in March brought 23 enthusiastic hikers out fora fun hike on a beautiful day. Additionally, we continue to lead hikes for and with our friends from Thrive 55+. Organizing and hosting the hikes takes a lot of effort, and we are grateful to committee members for making it possible.

Our Communication Committee continues to enhance our new website with the addition of new highlighted sections and on-going news articles. We are always striving to improve our ability to share information through various platforms including email and social media. A new initiative in the works is to create a series of short videos documenting the origins of GOSA told by Sidney Van Zandt, Founder and current Vice President, and stories from others about some of the challenges, learnings, and achievements we’ve encountered along the way. GOSA has a proud history of supporting our mission, the environment, and our community and we cannot wait to share it with you. Stay tuned for more information…it should be amazing!

Our Nominating & Recruiting Committee continues to seek and attract people to join our Committees. Matching people’s interests with our needs is ongoing and we look forward to finding more talented people to come onboard. If you are interested, please reach out to us through our website at gosaonline.org.

As Spring settles in, we hope more of you will hit the trails on our properties. Nature really puts on a show this time of year. There are pussywillows blooming at Candlewood Ridge, amphibians making a racket in our vernal pools, bird sightings galore, and soon flowers will be blossoming. We look forward to seeing you out there. Thanks again for being part of this wonderful organization.

See you out there,

Dan

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