Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2007


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Sprucing up the Arbo

Sprucing up the Arbo
Water lilies will be weeded out in the dredging project.

The Arboretum is getting a facelift. The pond will be dredged, and a number of arborvitae and Eastern hemlocks will be removed and replaced with sugar maples, oaks, laurels and rhododendrons.

According to Glenn Dreyer, the Charles and Sarah P. Becker ´27 Director of the Arboretum, the hemlocks, planted in 1933, are slowly dying due to a woolly adelgid infestation, first seen in Connecticut in the mid-1980s. The infestation continues despite regular treatment.

This summer, the man-made, freshwater pond in the Arboretum will be drained and a portion of it dredged to a depth of 10 feet. Most of the pond will remain two to three feet deep, but the various depths will allow for a range of water temperatures, which improves habitat diversity. Currently, the shallow pond is completely covered by white water lilies during the growing season.

Dreyer says the pond was last dredged in 1992, but that this year´s project will be more extensive. Roughly 9,000 cubic yards of material will be removed, and invasive and nuisance species, such as giant reed, white water lily and pickerel fish, will be eliminated.

“Water lilies won´t be able to root in so much of the pond and there will be open water year-round in a portion. Like other deep ponds, it will stratify in the summer — a phenomenon in which there are cold and warm layers of water, which is key to habitat diversity,” says Dreyer. “This will create the environment for a variety of different fish and other organisms such as floating, un-rooted plants.”

The pond is used regularly in botany, biology and environmental studies classes, and surveys of invertebrate life in the pond have shown a decline in species´ diversity.

Originally built in the ´20s as a place for students to ice skate, the pond is the centerpiece of the Native Tree and Shrub Collection and is a magnet for both visitors and wildlife. A boardwalk for the western end of the deepened area has been proposed, which will allow access to both deep and shallow water habitats for college classes, other educational programs and visitors.

The pond-dredging project is conditional on receiving permits, and it is funded by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Home Natural Resource Conservation Service, which will be matched by a bequest by Priscilla Pasco, a 1939 Connecticut College botany major who lived in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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