Hurricane Sandy tore its way across the Rye Nature Center last month, leaving a trail of fallen mature trees in its wake.
By Bill Lawyer
Hurricane Sandy tore its way across the Rye Nature Center last month, leaving a trail of fallen mature trees in its wake. The Center’s staff estimates that over 100 huge trees came down – many of which took down three or four smaller trees with them.
The day after the storm, Director Christine Siller stopped by to verify what she had already imagined – the damage was so severe that the trails had to be closed until they could be made safe.
Several weeks later, the trails are still closed to the general public, but some progress is being made. And, the staff is able to use trails that have been cleared to carry out in-house classes and scheduled activities.
The Nature Center property is owned by the City of Rye. The City is responsible for grounds maintenance, including tree care. Part of the work is carried out by Rye Golf Club groundskeeper Chip Lafferty, who lives with his family in an apartment at the Center. He and some of the Club’s maintenance workers started clearing up the driveway from the Post Road, and then removing some of the trees blocking the main trails. Some fallen trees that were blocking Blind Brook were also removed.
On November 15, Director Siller led City Manager Scott Pickup, City Engineer Ryan Coyne, and DPW Foreman Scott Fontecchio on a walk-through to see the extent of the damage. Just this week, a crew hired by the City came on board to help with the cleanup efforts.
Program Director Mary Gillick said that while most of the trees came down by the wind blowing east to west, several large trees were severely twisted, and fell in a north-south direction.
The 47-acre preserve is located on a rocky ridge that rises up from the Boston Post Road and then descends back down on the west side to Theodore Fremd Avenue. Over ten trees were knocked down just along the driveway up the hill. Several of the Center’s large trees were completely uprooted, with root bases over eight feet high.
One base created such a crater and overhang in the ground that Gillick said she saw several deer using it for a shelter. One tree fell on the Center’s deer exclusion fence gate, but Gillick said the crown of the tree is keeping deer from being able to get inside.
The main reason the Center is being cautious in re-opening the trails to the general public is that there are still several “hangers” and “leaners”. Hangers are broken branches that hang precariously onto other tree branches. Leaners are large branches or small trees that lean dangerously on other trees or rock outcroppings.
Director Siller is confident that the Center, working with the City, will be able to remove the dangerous conditions within the next few weeks. She urges people to check the Center’s website or call for further updates.