Lewisboro Land Trust hosts Access Nature event

On Sunday, Aug. 2, Access Nature had its premiere hike.

Naturalist Chris Evers of Animal Embassy, an educational organization, led a group of roughly 60 participants from the Community Center of Northern Westchester through the Leon Levy Preserve in South Salem on a one-hour walk filled with frogs, flora and snacks. 

The goal of the hike was to expose people who don’t normally have such access to nature, and the Leon Preserve specifically. “Our immediate goal with the Access Nature program is to identify populations that would benefit from spending time in nature. Many studies support the idea that being out of doors is good all of us — not only for our physical health, but also our mental and social well-being. Biophilia has been our theme for the year — the idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life,” Helen Peeples, Lewisboro Land Trust board member and program organizer said. 

The participant group included both children and parents originating from areas such as Ecuador and Colombia. The Community Center of Northern Westchester provided translators to aid in communication between members of the Lewisboro Land Trust and the other hikers.

“One of my favorite places on earth,”  Evers said about the Leon Levy Preserve to the crowd of eager young eyes surrounding his table prior to the hike. Evers told the group about how his love for nature and animals started right here in New York as he showed off his collection of animal skulls, skeletons and footprints. Evers could not emphasize enough how important it is to be kind to animals and was proud of his peacefully obtained footprints, including an impressively sized brown bear print. However, the kids appeared more attentive to Evers’ seven skulls, which ranged from a small weasel to a wolf.

The hike itself was blessed with blue skies, warm weather and wildlife. Within 20 feet Evers found a salamander to show the party, and butterflies, small frogs and berry bushes were found throughout. Lewisboro Land Trust members Bobbe Stultz and Helen Peeples shared their knowledge of local flora and critters, and halfway through the hike Evers stood atop a boulder to give a history lesson on the Ice Age.

Although the Lewisboro Land Trust has been leading both educational nature walks and hikes for years, Access Nature is the first hike of its kind for the group, targeting underserved populations.

“Our hope is that those who participate in this Access Nature Program will seek out trails to hike on their own after this introduction,” Peeples said.

The Leon Levy Preserve was purchased in 2005 and covers 383 acres. The five miles of trails feature wetlands rich in wildlife, a ravine with 25-foot cliffs, views to the west as far as the Hudson River and a diverse hardwood forest. The main entrance is on Route 123 just south of the intersection with Route 35.

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