Thursday, May 2, 2019

2018 Annual Appeal

December 21, 2018
For the Love of Nature

Dear Friends,
     This past year here at Aton Forest has been a productive and exciting one. Since my first appeal letter to you one year ago, Aton Forest has continued to evolve as a biological field station and conservation organization, and our accomplishments continue to encourage us as we advance Dr. Egler’s passions for ecological research and land preservation.
     Our purchase of the Danforth property on Chimney Hill in Colebrook was finalized, adding 15 acres to our holdings and preserving critical habitat, forested uplands and wetlands that protect Sandy Brook, an important cold-water fishery.
     For Weekends in Norfolk (WIN) we offered walks that engaged the public in some of our scientific research such as the Owl Prowl and Porcupine Den survey (led by board member Fran Zygmont and our Executive Director John Anderson), and we even partnered with the Norfolk Conservation Commission in hosting botanical forays through City Meadow and the Botelle School wet meadow plant community. Additionally, board member Matthew Johnson led "Astronomy Evening" at Dennis Hill State Park, which was a big hit, with about 70 visitors stopping by to view the night sky. We expect these WIN programs to continue in 2019.
     This year’s workshops, supported by a local grant and registration fees, included yearly classics like Birding by Ear, led by Fran Zygmont and volunteer Bob Barieri, and Naturalistic Landscaping, led by landscape designer Larry Weaner and John Anderson. And some new ones in our advanced workshop series: Coastal Wetlands Plants and Goldenrods Demystified, led by botanist Bill Moorhead, proved to be popular. Over 50 people participated in our nine workshops this year. You will start to see announcements for our 2019 program season soon, which will include CT Shrubs ID Lab, Flood Plain Plants, and Asters Demystified, as well as some of our standards. We will also be partnering with the Connecticut Botanical Society for some workshops.
     Personally, I am eager to introduce and teach basic botany classes that would appeal to budding botanists – beginners who desire to learn about plants and but are not ready for the technical classes we normally offer to professionals, and to those who simply want to gain a handle on local species growing in our fields and forests; another is a workshop on how to properly collect and prepare herbarium specimens for scientific and personal study.
     Aton Forest houses lab space and an herbarium. Aton Forest’s participation in regional bird conservation programs such as the CT DEEP Ruffed Grouse study (led by board member Mike Aurelia since 2006), the CT Bird Atlas project, and even our own Aton Forest Breeding Bird Survey (begun in 2006 and for the past two years led by Kateri Kosek) and Winter Bird Count, add crucial data to our understanding of our avian fauna as indicators of
environmental health, while some of our other long-term projects continue to improve wildlife
habitat. The removal of invasive plants along our riparian areas, assisted by hard-working volunteers, is restoring the ecology of areas usurped by non-native species.
     As we forge ahead and better realize our needs, progress must be maintained on a variety of
fronts. Aton Forest is at a point where we must hire an office assistant. The restoration of Dr. Egler’s old Study, a building now in disrepair is critical not only for historical purposes but as additional space to house and protect the Egler scientific archives. We would also like to continue acquire additional conservation lands that protect core research holdings and maintain a diverse and connected natural landscape.
     Last year, your generous support helped us finalize improvements to our facilities, making a
Cottage available to scientists, volunteers and workshop participants for overnight stays. It also funded important programs and research.
     To help us maintain our momentum and to better serve the conservation community, please consider us in your end of the year giving. Contact us about other forms of giving.
Wishing you a very Happy Holiday season and looking forward to seeing you in 2019!

Elizabeth Corrigan, President

To donate, you may send a check, made out to "Aton Forest, Inc."
Please mail to: Aton Forest, Inc., PO Box 509, Norfolk CT 06058.
Or go to our website,, and click the donate button.

Much of what we do at AF is behind the scenes: land
preservation, natural history research, maintaining the
legacy of our founder Dr. Frank Egler. But there is still
much that our friends and supporters can do: attend our
workshops and nature walks, participate in citizen-science
projects and come visit for your own study of nature and

Our Board has also seen some changes. We are sorry that
former Treasurer, Paul Lagel, has stepped down after 17
years of dedicated service, while we welcome the addition
of Aton Forest neighbor Billy Gridley. The other Board
members are: Elizabeth Corrigan, President; Rick Golin,
Treasurer; Mike Aurelia; Fran Zygmont; Bill Tilles; Andy
Gregory; John Cox; Matthew Johnson, and; Leslie
Watkins. John Anderson is our Executive Director.