LITCHFIELD — Hikers at the White Memorial Foundation can now take comfort in knowing reflective numbers have been added to all trailheads.
The goal of the numbers is to be able to get help quicker in case of an emergency, according to Forest Manager Mike Berry.
“We’re trying to make it easier for people to find the trailheads or to be able to say which trailhead they are lost at,” Berry said.
He said that while it’s not often people get lost or injured and have to be rescued from the trails, “we wanted to get in front of it.”
The numbers, which are green and white, are located on each information sign or tree at the entrance to every trailhead. They were put on 43 trailheads at White Memorial, an environmental education center, nature museum and wildlife refuge.
White Memorial has 40 miles of foot trails throughout 4,000 acres of forest, fields and wetlands in Litchfield and Morris. All trails, which are of easy to moderate difficulty level, are free and open to the public year-round. Hunting is prohibited on the property.
Prior to the street numbers being added, signage was on the trail, but there was no identifier for each trailhead, according to Berry.
“The way it was before, if someone was lost or needed assistance, the dispatchers would just dispatch everyone to White Memorial’s main area, which is 4,000 acres — so that doesn’t really help,” he said.
In February, Berry met with local fire chiefs about his concern. “We had the three fire chiefs from Morris, Bantam and Litchfield, and the fire marshal,” he said.
The project took about six months to complete. “We had to get the numbers from the town tax assessor,” Berry said. Maintenance staff did all of the sign installation, which cost around $500.
The coronavirus pandemic slowed the project for a few months.
According to Berry, White Memorial gets about 100,000 to 130,000 visitors a year.
When out on the trails, Berry advises hikers to dress for the weather and carry a map, which can be purchased through the White Memorial website. Maps are also available at most trailheads.
When out on the trails, Berry said he highly recommends hikers make note of the street name and address number of the trailhead as they begin a hike.
The White Memorial staff is now onto a new project — they’re planning to redo some of the displays for a walking trail in the backyard of the nature museum. Currently, the museum is closed due to the pandemic. However, its online store is open.
The White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 1913. It’s supported by the Whites, brother and sister land conservationists whose family had a summer home on the property. The White Memorial Conservation Center, 80 Whitehall Road, was established in 1964.
For more information, visit 80 Whitehall Road, at whitememorialcc.org or call 860-567-0857.