The Boardwalk

Tall grasses line the boardwalk in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Tall grasses line the White Memorial boardwalk (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Located on a 4,000 acre nature preserve in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, the White Memorial Conservation Center is proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  Established in 1964 in the former homestead of Alain and May White, this public center is dedicated to conservation, research, education and recreation.  More than 35 miles of trails through a variety of terrains offer opportunities for anything from a casual stroll to mountain biking, cross country skiing and horseback riding.  But it’s the boardwalk that does it for me.

Wetlands revealed from the boardwalk in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Wetlands revealed from the boardwalk (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

There is something about a boardwalk that’s magical and fun.  You’re allowed to be adventurous without risk as you walk over an area you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near (that is, without an airboat or a serious pair of waders). You can casually walk on water without the worry of any miraculous implications.  And while you’re not spending time making your way through snake infested waters and picking off leeches, you can relax and enjoy the scenery that surrounds you in this beautiful wet wonderland.

Bright berries along the way in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Colorful berries along the way (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The White Memorial Conservation center has a mile long boardwalk that meanders through tall grasses, dense woodland and open waterways; offering a multitude of chances to observe nature at its best.  You can get up-close-and-personal with all sorts of wetland plants and shrubs, many with colorful berries or fragrant blossoms you may not have experienced before.  You will observe dozens of different types of insects fluttering from one flower to another, stopping to sip nectar along the way.  You will notice playful activity as birds fly from limb to limb, squirrels scurry about the understory and frogs and turtles bask on logs in the warm sunshine.

Cat tails sashay in the breeze in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cat tails sashay in the breeze (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Then there are sounds that are simply sublime; a chorus of bird song, frog communication, cricket harmony and bees humming. The wind tickles the tall fronds of grasses that blow to and fro, creating a soft rustling sound. The water flows at a determined pace, producing a subtle melody as it gently rinses the leaves of the aquatic residents lounging along the outskirts of its current. Even cat tails sashay in the breeze, taunting dogs from the shore with their low pitched purrs.

The boardwalk meanders through a wooded area in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The boardwalk meanders through a wooded area (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Though the wooden path has come to an end, there is much more to learn from this mini-expedition through White Memorial’s wondrous outdoor classroom.  With a strong focus on research and education, you’ll find the center carefully studies small mammals and their habitats, monitors white tailed deer populations, initiates programs to determine what predators may be secretly living nearby (they have been utilizing infrared-triggered cameras for this), and searches for vernal pools in order to protect the precious amphibians that thrive in them. White Memorial established Breeding Bird Survey Routes and Census Plots, which it has continued to evaluate since 1965.  And in recent years, the conservation center has worked to eradicate non-native invasive plant species, while incorporating “green technology” such as solar panels, geothermal and wind energy elements to their facility.

A gentle current flows through the wetlands in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A gentle current flows through the wetlands (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

By integrating a passion for conservation with a love of education, then mixing in a lot of fun activities throughout the year (including camping and boating), the White Memorial Conservation Center is worth a visit whenever the spirit moves you. Just remember to take a stroll on the boardwalk while you’re there~


  1. This place looks absolutely DREAMY to me! What an interesting article Kathy – thank you!

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