A revised edition of the Norfolk Conservation Commission’s Natural Resource Inventory has been completed and is available for sale at Town Hall, the National Iron Bank and the Norfolk Library at a price of $30. It is also available for free online.
The NRI offers fascinating insight into the geology, weather, soils, aquatics, plants and wildlife in Norfolk. It also includes information about open space and historical resources.
“It covers the town pretty comprehensively,” said Conservation Commission member John Anderson, one of the authors. “The inventory attempts to convey how many different resources we have and why they are important.”
The NRI is richly illustrated. “The photography is fantastic,” said Anderson. “We are blessed with many great photographers. [The late] Bruce Frisch contributed lot of photos and we dedicated this updated issue to him.”
Appendices include numerous lists. “One thing I am really pleased with is that the Inventory is unique to Norfolk. Some [town] inventories list species that are ‘likely to occur’ but we say these are ones that have been observed. If it is not on the list, we haven’t seen it yet,” Anderson said.
“There is not much difference in the animals that were seen since the last one,” he added. “Most were already here, but we do have more specific information on bats. In the previous edition, one species wasn’t listed and others were possibilities, but with no absolute proof. Now, most of those bats have been discovered. Yes, we do have those, plus one additional species.” Happily, the endangered Little Brown Bat still makes the list.
“We also added Damsel Flies, Dragon Flies and some bees and moths,” he reported.
The number of bird species have increased, but other animals, such as the Northern Flying Squirrel “haven’t been seen for a long time.”
The inventory was compiled through collaboration with many other organizations, including the Agriculture Experiment Station and UConn. “There is climate data in the weather chapter gathered from both Great Mountain and Aton forests, the soils have updated because soil types change, and we have expanded the plant list.”
In the middle of the Inventory is a chapter on recommendations for other town agencies to pursue. “Some recommendations have been modified but many are the same. In many ways, that is the most important part. The rest is a reference list, but the recommendation section is what do you do about it. What difference it will make. There are so many recommendations, we knew there would be some push-back, but we all believe it important to put the recommendations in there.”
He said many of the recommendations would be handled by different town bodies in the normal course of business. But the Conservation Commission also works with groups on such things as invasive plants removal, replacing them with native species, and a stream continuity project, which promotes properly sized culverts so flooding does not occur.
“We have a list of all the culverts in town and they have been evaluated by Housatonic Valley Association,” he said. “We know which ones are okay and which ones are not good for wildlife.”
The first edition, published in 2009 was created over three years by a subcommittee of the Inland Wetlands Agency. Just before it was finished, the Conservation Commission was formed and the subcommittee was appointed to it.
“A lot of what we do in Conservation is to try to find ways to educate,” Anderson explained. “We put on programs and hope to have a few meetings early this year about the NRI. It’s hard because it involves [scheduling with] other groups like the town administration, P&Z, the IWA, etc.”
The Natural Resource Inventory should be revised every 10 years. “We were a little late,” Anderson says, “but it was a bigger project than we thought it would be. We had to have it reformatted and that alone took a while. There are a lot of moving parts—we already have an errata page.”