Algae

Photo copyright Lauretta Jones

Visitors to Angle Fly Preserve are welcomed by the remains of an historic farmstead. The Reynolds farmhouse can be traced back to 1803 while two small outbuildings are probably from the early 20th century. The house was occupied through the 1970’s when the property was slated for a huge development.

For much of its history, this property supported its owners through agriculture. Grain was grown in the lower lands while the hills were used for cattle grazing, fattening them for the market. Later the property boasted orchards and the old farmhouse became home to a series of caretakers for the new gentlemen farmers/gardeners on the hill.

At the heart of the Reynolds farmstead is a man made pond. Most times of the year, the farm pond is covered by swirls of single-celled green plants – algae. While algae are an essential part of the pond food chain, they can proliferate beyond an optimal balance point. This creates unhealthy conditions including low oxygen levels, reducing the pond’s ability to support beneficial plants or wildlife.

There are two types of algae in the pond. One flourishes in warm temperatures while the other prefers it cooler. They take turns floating up from the bottom of the pond, dying, descending, and decomposing. Over the years the pond depth has been reduced to less than half its original six to eight feet due to silt erosion and decomposition of the algae.

For the last several years, the Somers Land Trust and hundreds of local volunteers have been engrossed in clearing ten miles of trails that are now reaching completion. As that milestone is reached, the energies of this group will turn to the habitat around Reynolds Pond and the farmstead. One of the first challenges will be to restore the health of the pond and its surrounding ecosystem.

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