The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 1, 1999



To my disappointment, I learned recently that there will be no repeat this October of last year's Halloweeen extravaganza, The Haunt. The original organizer, Jo Romaniello, could not continue this year and potential organizers feared that the high school's annual Halloween Dance, scheduled for the same night , would seriously deplete the supply of volunteers that made last year's event such a resounding success. More than 692 trick-or-treaters, not counting their parents, experienced The Haunt and I'm sure almost every one of them was looking forward to a return visit.

Perhaps it is the nature of the beast that something so successful, and subsequently so massive, would be daunting to re-create, although I suspect that the second time around the process might have proven a bit easier. The Haunt was special, like Old Home Dayan event put on for the sheer fun of it, simply to delight children and adults alike. It wasn't started to raise money for anything; it didn't cater to special interest groups; the good cause it served was to remind people what fun Halloween can be.

Ironically, the good people who brought us The Haunt last year created a monsterthey were so successful, they left us wanting more. It's hard to create a tradition without the manpower to carry it off, but I wonder what volunteers might have stepped forward, given the opportunity. Friends of mine, who barely have the time to read the newspaper, let alone get involved in town activities, were so impressed when they returned from last year's Haunt that they vowed to join in the effort this year. I'm sorry they won't get the chance.

An Environmental Guidebook for Carlisle?

A few weeks ago, some Conant land enthusiasts had a good idea even a great idea. As a public service, they suggested the creation of a catalogue of the flora and fauna, as well as the geology and history, of the Conant property. An even bolder notion would be a guidebook which would inventory and describe all of Carlisle's natural environment, especially its conservation lands. Many town citizens would welcome and use such a guidebook.

Carlisle's Open Space and Recreation (OSR) report is essentially an environmental inventory and needs assessment for the town, and contains a wealth of information basic to such a guidebook. The OSR report is a document which makes the town eligible for grants from the state's Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. The first OSR reports were directed by the late Kay Kulmala in 1979 and 1987. The last, a collaborative work of Susan Emmons and Betsy Fell, who were appointed by the Carlisle Conservation Commission, was published in September 1994 and because of popular demand went into a second printing in May 1996. An updated OSR report is now in preparation. As part of the update, Betsy Fell is collecting data for a Carlisle plant and wildlife inventory, which would provide valuable information for a guidebook to Carlisle's conservation lands and trails.

In the September 17 Mosquito, Fell asked sixth graders who are collecting insects for their science class to submit their data to the Carlisle Wildlife Inventory. She asked for an observation record which would start with the common name of the species and go on to note the date observed, the location and the name of the observer. Certainly, sixth graders are not the only individuals collecting this sort of data: many residents keep daily records of wildlife sightings, particularly of birds, and have been doing so for years. Hopefully, they will have the interest, the knowledge and the records to contribute to such an environmental inventory.

These data could serve several purposes. One would be simply to identify what is here, which would be essential for a guidebook. A second would be to establish a baseline that would support the study of population changes for various wildlife groups. What does a larger population of coyotes, for example, do to existing raccoon populations, and are there any trends in the number of observations of any given species? Or, how does development affect our environmental resources?

The compilation of a Carlisle environmental handbook is a huge job, but a substantial amount of material already exists in the OSR inventory and many interested residents could contribute time to the project. I plan to do my part by finding an unused calendar and starting to record my own observations the skunk in the road, the barred owls calling, the sounds of coyotes in the night, or an unusual plant species. At the end of each month, I'll send my calendar to the Wildlife Inventory at (or 21 Patten Lane). If enough other residents do their part, we'll be off to a good start, and may even be fortunate in finding an individual willing to expand or coordinate the effort.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito