Getting It Together for the Wetlands

Where we are now:

The telephone lines divide the village from the town wetlands, both filled with invasive plants. Photo Credit, Rob Corby.

Reflecting on the progress made since the start of my new year, which began on February 10th, I find myself pleasantly surprised already to be posting my third blog entry for 2024, following my recent discussions of A Frog House’s accomplishments in 2023 Dragons, Dinosaurs, and Frogs, the Gala photo journal and our second newsletter, outlined our goals for 2024. We have applied for two grants, and arranged for Tom Biebighauser, a seasoned wetlands expert and author, to visit Pittsford on April 18th and 19th.

Additionally, I’ve sharpened our focus for the year ahead, as summarized on our website page, Our Plans for 2024. I’ve realized that our most impactful work lies within our own community – among our own Frog Family, including all of our wonderful advisors, board members, consultants, friends, and volunteers.

Rob Corby teaching about the wetlands in the Erie Canal Nature Preserve in 2022. Photo Credit, Lindsay Graham

I just have to talk about my hero advisor.

Speaking of advisors, Rob Corby filled in at the last minute for A Frog House hike which was supposed to have been led by someone else in 2022. He is talking about the invasive plants behind him that are choking out native life. Because he told me that I can use any of his photos anytime, I am doing just that, even though you may already have seen them on his own facebook page.

Rob has been a good friend and family member since at least 2019. I have valued all of our time together, what he has taught me (if I could only remember half of it!), and how he has participated in most if not all of A Frog House activities and events.

Rob’s passion since I met him has been his vision for the 10 acres of property adjacent to the Erie Canal Nature Preserve. Before he completed his 28 year tenure as the award winning mayor of the Village of Pittsford, this property was declared permanent park land, named the Robert C. Corby Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sometimes when you are looking for something, it happens that it is right under your nose or on top of your head. So if this relationship is intellectually stimulating and makes sense to me, why wouldn’t A Frog House partner up with the Friends of the Robert C. Corby Arboretum (Friends)?

Early woods sedges in the arboretum wetlands. Photo Credit, Rob Corby.
Skunk cabbage and fern in the Arboretum. Photo Credit, Rob Corby.

The creek within and bordering the village property is only about 1000 feet, but look at the variety in it!

We have an opportunity to create a design plan taking advantage of the incredible diversity of this little plot of land, including input from all of the stakeholders. Think globally, act locally, and help out your very best friends.

Rob was born in the year of the Rabbit. I’m not superstitious but I like good news: “The year of the Dragon promises good things for Rabbit zodiac individuals. Known for their kindness, intelligence, and peace-loving nature, Rabbits are also quick learners and ambitious. They don’t like arguments and prefer to solve problems smoothly.” That sounds like Rob!

One of the 4 ponds in the Erie Canal Nature Preserve, Photo Credit, Rob Corby.

A Frog House interns, Thompson Marinho and Rey Sunglao, tested the water of these ponds, and wrote an excellent report, which will be published soon. (Darn, both the chemist and the musician are just finishing at the University of Rochester, and will be going on to graduate school by this fall).

As these ponds are part of the overall hydrological system shared with the Arboretum, it makes sense to first clean up the water that feeds into it.

Group crossing the Town of Pittsford Wetlands, led by Rob. Photo Credit, Lindsay Graham.

The aforementioned ponds are to the right of this boardwalk, and the wetlands on the left are part of the same system shown under the telephone wires in the second photo from the top. If the walkers turned around, walked under the telephone poles, reaching the boundary of town and village, and looked to their left, they would see this lovely scene:

Braided part of the creek, which runs along the north boundary of the Arboretum. Photo Credit and description, Rob Corby.
“Ponded area occurring along the stream running between the Arboretum and the adjacent Auburn Trail.” Photo Credit and description, Rob Corby.
Another view from the Auburn Trail. “In spring the small wooded stream valley is laden with vernal ponds.” Photo Credit and description, Rob Corby.
Creek on northeast border of the Arboretum looking from the hillside trail. Photo Credit, Rob Corby.

Rob and other members of Friends of the Robert C. Corby Arboretum (Friends) have been chipping away at the Arboretum improvements both in the field and by appearing regularly at Village board of trustee meetings.

On his Facebook page Rob has published the Friends’ prior and current requests to the board for further progress. A Frog House has more than 300 petitions requesting the same basic things that are in Rob’s action plan for 2024, and it may be the time to present them to the board.

What About the Past?

Andy Smith with a group of Very Important People at A Frog House interested in wetlands. Photo Credit, Lindsay Graham.

I have to admit that I was more than discouraged when:

  1. in 2021, A Frog House event Ecological Design: Bringing it Home. Forest Gardens In A Nutshell Part 2 for the installation of a permaculture garden was summarily dismissed 2 months before it was scheduled to take place. What happened?
  2. in 2022, the plan for the town wetlands that was so carefully outlined by wetland engineer Andy Smith came to nothing. We were told that there was the money to do it. What happened?

Neither of these delays are personal. Both Village and Town officials have many other things on their plates to deal with that have nothing to do with A Frog House. People are naturally resistant to other people’s ideas in a society that is less than Prosocial. We have been brought up to be competitive, not to trust, to be too busy to see the forest for the trees.

There is a saying that if we focus on the past, we will become depressed.

What about the future?

Tom Bieghauser. I love the way the inset makes him look submerged in the wetland. More about him below.* Photo Credits, Unknown

How do we approach one another in a Prosocial manner?

Hopefully, A Frog House will be able to move ahead with our goals by practicing the following this year and in the future:

  • Communicate the purpose, benefits, and goals of our requests and how they will positively impact the Village board and residents, and all visitors to A Frog House and the Arboretum.
  • Encourage everyone to participate and have input, with open lines of communication and transparency.
  • Provide training and support, patience and empathy, encourage questions and address concerns.
  • Break down the plan into smaller, manageable steps and provide clear timelines for implementation.
  • Be flexible and prepared to change our plans.

Rob and the Friends have inspired me, and most of all, this, the year of the Dragon and a year of a complete solar eclipse, seems to be the “fullness of time” for things to move ahead in the Arboretum.

There is another saying that if we focus on the future, we will become anxious.

And that’s why the present is a gift.

Village of Pittsford Board of Trustees left to right: Justin Leitgeb, Lili Lanphear, Mayor Alysa Plummer, Lisa Cove, Dave Marshall.

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11: 9, 10

We have to just keep knocking. I hope you all will want to walk through these doors with me and find some lovely benefits to opening your hearts to participating and chipping in with the wonderful people we all work with. There is nothing to be anxious about if we recognize that each of us has our own unique brains with our own unique experiences, and we all are just trying to cope in a difficult world the best we know how.

Here is the fourth of the six goals of the Village Board: “Coordinate growth and development in a way that protects environmental assets and promotes sound land use practices.”

I am really happy that Mayor Plummer has expressed her essential interest in an overall plan for the Arboretum that reflects the interests of many talented people, including Master Gardeners in Pittsford. This is what A Frog House is hoping to achieve for her.

Because a professional design would cost at least $80,000, which the Village doesn’t have, I hope the board will respond favorably to a visit of an accomplished wetland consultant and engineer, Mr. Thomas Biebighauser on April 18 and 19. He is known to present designs and plans to be implemented at a fraction of the cost of commercial engineers.

Each board member is cordially invited to be one of 6 people that walks with him through the wetland area with him while he is here. Everyone is invited to a power point presentation on Thursday evening (April 18). We hope that the board is receptive to his recommendations, which will be available and presented to the board and general public by zoom at a later date, and support the work of volunteers both for the Friends and for A Frog House in the Arboretum.

Being Grown Up. F.R.O.G.

A Communication Folder for parents and teachers, available for $3.00 from Teachers Pay Teachers

In this case, not Fully Responsible, Organized and Growing, Free (or Furnished) Room Over Garage, or Flame Resistant Organizational Gear, or even, as I often Say, Fully Rely on God, but:

Forever

Recognize

Other’s

Greatness.

Save the Dates for 2024!

  • Mar 12, Mar 26 –Village of Pittsford Board of trustee meetings, open to the public, an invitation to welcome and walk with Tom Biebighauser
  • April 18, 19 –Actual Visit by Tom Biebighauser, at Village Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary, daytime walk(s) limited to 6 people, and
  • April 18, 6:30 – 8:30 pm – a powerpoint presentation by Tom Biebighauser about wetlands, their importance, enhancement, and construction.
  • April 28 1 to 5 pm – Save The Frogs Day at 50 Mitchell Road, Pittsford , all invited
  • May 5 – Oct 31 1 to 5 pm – A Frog House opens on Sunday afternoons from through October and by special request, all invited
  • May Date TBD 6:30 – 8:30 pm – Zoom Presentation by Tom Biebighauser of proposed plans for the Village Arboretum, all invited
  • August 11 1 to 5 pm – Froggy Family Fun(d)raiser Birthday Party, at 65 State Street, Pittsford all invited
  • Date TBD 6 to 9 pm – Gala fundraiser, Lindsay’s 60th birthday party, food galore, cash bar.