March 24, 2017

Friends of Whalebone Cove Host Talk on “Future of the Connecticut River” in Hadlyme, Sunday

A winter view of Whalebone Cove.

‘The Future of Connecticut River’ will be the topic of the featured speaker at the annual meeting of Friends of Whalebone Cove on Sunday, March 26, at 4 p.m. in Hadlyme.

Stephen Gephard, supervising fisheries biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Inland Fisheries Division in Old Lyme, will present a program in which he reviews the history of the Connecticut River since pre-colonial times and offers his predictions on how the River will be used in the 21st century.

Gephard is well known in conservation circles up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

In 2014, then President Barack Obama appointed him as commissioner of the Council of North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, an international body established by an intergovernmental convention in 1984 that seeks to restore and manage Atlantic salmon populations.

And last year the Northeastern Division of the American Fisheries Society (NED) presented him with the its NED President’s Award.

Throughout his 30+ year career with Connecticut DEEP, Gephard has advocated for the restoration of habitat of diadromous fish across the state, region, nation and world, and continues to work for the benefit of the species he manages.

Friends of Whalebone Cove was formed last year by area residents to help government and private conservation agencies protect the fragile eco-systems in Hadlyme’s Whalebone Cove, which is listed as one of North America’s important freshwater tidal marshes in international treaties that cite the Connecticut River estuary as a wetland complex of global importance.

A representative from the US Fish & Wildlife Service Silvio O Conte Refuge will also give a short presentation on the Conte Refuge’s new Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Much of Whalebone Cove and the surrounding upland is part of the Conte Refuge.

The Friends of Whalebone Cove annual meeting is open to the public, both members and non-members. It will be at Hadlyme Public Hall, One Day Hill Road, Lyme. Refreshments will be served.

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Duck River Garden Club Hosts Landscape Architect at Next Tuesday’s Meeting

The next meeting of the Duck River Garden Club will be held Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall. The meeting will open with a social time starting at 6:30 p.m., which will be followed by the program at 7 p.m. and the business meeting at 8 p.m.  All are welcome.

The program presenter will be Allan Broadbent, PLA, ASLA, who is the landscape architect for Granoff Architects and the topic for his program will be, ‘Creating Outdoor Rooms.’ Broadbent will demonstrate the principles of creating space—both vertical and horizontal—how to modify existing spaces by adding containers, arbors, boundaries, with consideration for the scale and proportion of containers and grading of the landscape.

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30 Plunge Into Frigid Sound to Help Save Plum Island

Plunging for Plovers: these brave souls charged into the freezing waters of Long Island Sound last Saturday to raise awareness of efforts to save Plum Island from sale and preserve the island’s outstanding flora and fauna. Photo by Judy Preston.

Saturday fundraiser brought together conservationists, students, elected officials

A long-planned “polar plunge”-style fundraiser at Old Saybrook Town Beach got a shot of drama from unexpectedly cold temperatures, strong winds, and high waves this weekend.

CFE/Save the Sound’s Chris Cryder, in seal costume, speaks at the press conference. Photo by Laura McMillan.

Students from Old Saybrook High School, area officials, and representatives of a regional environmental organization—some in costumes—packed into a heated school bus for a press conference Saturday morning before running into a frigid Long Island Sound to raise awareness and support for protecting Plum Island.

The “Plum Island Plunge for Plovers” has raised $3,700 for Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound’s multi-year battle to save Plum Island from sale and private development. Donations are still coming in.

“I’ve met thousands of folks all around the Sound who want Plum Island preserved, but this is something else,” said Chris Cryder, special project coordinator for CFE/Save the Sound, decked out as one of the harbor seals that rest on Plum Island’s rocky shore. “To see dozens of people voluntarily turn out in weather like this to make a statement about the island’s importance is inspiring.”

Rosie Rothman, co-president of Old Saybrook High School’s Interact Club, speaks at the press conference prior to ‘The Plunge.’ Photo by Judy Preston.

Rosie Rothman, co-president of Old Saybrook High School’s Interact Club, explained that the plunge was a perfect fit for the Interact Club’s mission of community service and the Ecology Club’s mission of environmental protection.

“Afterwards, we couldn’t feel our toes for a while, but we still had fun,” she said. “With a windchill in the single digits, it was definitely a challenge, but our members still showed up. I think that speaks to our dedication to the cause. It is our hope that our legislators take decisive federal action to protect Plum Island from development that would be detrimental to the wildlife that depends on it, including 111 species of conservation concern.”

“I was very proud to see so many Old Saybrook High School students participate in the polar plunge, on a freezing March day, to support efforts to preserve Plum Island,” said Rep. Devin Carney (Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook). “Plum Island is an important natural resource for the Connecticut shoreline and Long Island Sound. By preserving it, these students, and many others, will be able to enjoy its natural beauty for many years to come.”

And they’re off! The plungers enter the bitterly cold water at Old Saybrook Town Beach. (Photo by Judy Preston)

Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., first selectman for the Town of Old Saybrook, joined the hardy souls jumping into the Sound. Addressing the assembled attendees, he reminded them of the region’s land conversation victory in saving The Preserve, and said, “The Town of Old Saybrook fully supports the conservation of Plum Island and its rightful place in the public domain upon the decommissioning of scientific activities. The importance of Plum Island as a flora and fauna host has been amply demonstrated. It is now time for our legislative and executive branches to swiftly put an end to any speculation that this resource will be privately developed. I applaud the bipartisan efforts to conserve Plum Island.”

These were some of the supporters, who braved the cold to cheer on the plungers. (Photo by Judy Preston.)

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy sent letters in support of the effort.

Plum Island, an 840-acre, federally-owned island in the eastern end of Long Island Sound, is home to threatened and endangered birds like the piping plover and roseate tern, as well as other rare species. Seventy Connecticut and New York organizations work together as the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, partnering with grassroots activists and champions in Congress to halt sale of the island. CFE/Save the Sound has also brought an action in federal court claiming that the government’s decision to sell the island violates numerous federal environmental laws.

Fundraising will remain open through the end of the month. Members of the public may donate to support CFE/Save the Sound’s work at www.bit.ly/plum-plunge.

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“Plum Island Plunge for Plovers” to be Held in Old Saybrook This Morning

Fundraiser and press conference will bring together conservationists, students, elected officials

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Students from Old Saybrook High School’s Ecology and Interact Clubs, and a regional environmental organization are joining forces this Saturday, March 11, to raise awareness and support for protecting rare bird habitat on Long Island Sound.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) and its bi-state program Save the Sound will devote the proceeds of the “polar plunge”-style fundraiser towards the organization’s multi-year battle to save Plum Island from sale and private development.

The event takes place at 10 a.m. on Old Saybrook Town Beach at Great Hammock Rd. (Rte. 154), Old Saybrook.

A piping plover ready to plunge! Image from CFE website.

Plum Island, an 840-acre, federally-owned island in the eastern end of Long Island Sound, is home to threatened and endangered birds like the piping plover and roseate tern, as well as other rare species. Seventy Connecticut and New York organizations work together as the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, partnering with grassroots activists and champions in Congress to halt sale of the island. CFE/Save the Sound has also brought an action in federal court claiming that the government’s decision to sell the island violates numerous federal environmental laws.

A press conference featuring local, state, and likely federal elected officials will kick off the event at Old Saybrook Town Beach, followed by a dash into the frigid Long Island Sound.  Senator Richard Blumenthal (schedule permitting), State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna are all expected to be present.

Prizes will be awarded for the most funds raised and “Best Costume.”

“Plum Island Plunge for Plovers” is open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to register and set up their own fundraising pages at www.bit.ly/plum-plunge, or support the students’ efforts at this page.

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Visgilio of Old Lyme Wins Silver, Bronze Medals in Vermont Special Olympics

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme stands on the podium proudly wearing the silver medal that he won in the Vermont Special Olympics.

Evan Visgilio of Old Lyme returned from the Vermont Special Olympic Winter Games held this past weekend (March 3-6) in Woodstock, Vt., with a fourth place ribbon, along with a Bronze and a Silver Medal.

Suicide Six located in Woodstock, Vt., hosted the Vermont Special Olympics Winter and Visgilio, who was a member of the Hermitage at Haystack Team, participated in his first ever Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G events. By the end of the competition, Visgilio had won an impressive collection of awards taking fourth place in Slalom, and winning a Bronze Medal in the Giant Slalom and a Silver Medal in the Super G.

Evan, who is 13-years-old, lives in Old Lyme with his parents John and Wendy Visgilio, along with his siblings Brenna, Will and John. Evan attends Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School where he is in  seventh Grade.

Evan was born with Down Syndrome and has been skiing for seven years. This was Evan’s first year competing in the Vermont Special Olympics. He trains at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vt., with his coaches Scott Serota, Corey Robinson and Kate Riley.

Many congratulations to our friend and neighbor, Evan, from all of us at LymeLine.com!

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Lyme Library Presents ‘Up Close with Raptors,’ March 25

Blue Moon Raptors is an organization geared to rehabilitate ill, injured, and orphaned birds of prey in order to return them back to their natural habitat when possible. Rose Cresi, founder of Blue Moon Raptors, will give a presentation at Lyme Public Library, Saturday, March 25, at 2 p.m. at which she will have several live birds with her – two kestrels (who have been brought to her from Maine for rehabilitation), a barn owl and two other birds of prey. She will discuss the birds, rehabilitation of the birds and in addition, talk about the important role the birds have in our ecosystem.

In addition, Cresi will cover what we can do to preserve the environment so raptors may continue to enrich our planet.

All are welcome at the Library, 482 Hamburg Rd./Rte. 156, Lyme.

Call 860-434-2272 for more information and to register.

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Actor Sam Waterson Hosts PBS Documentary on Lyme Land Trust

Jack Tiffany, owner of Tiffany Farms on Rte. 156 and an earlier pioneer in Lyme land preservation, is interviewed by PBS “Visionaries” documentary producers.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust will be featured this Saturday on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) in PBS’s “Visionaries” program, a national documentary series hosted by famed actor Sam Waterston.

The broadcast featuring Lyme will air locally at 7 p.m., and eventually will be rebroadcast on PBS stations across the country.

“Visionaries” film crews interviewed land trust members and filmed the Lyme Consolidated School’s Earth Day Celebration and Tour de Lyme, the land trust’s annual bicycling fundraiser.

Visionaries Executive Producer Bill Mosher said he selected the Lyme Land Trust and the Lyme community because he wanted to feature a small nonprofit working effectively on the local level that could serve as a model for other communities across the country.

“Lyme Land Conservation Trust turned out to be much more than we had imagined,” Mosher said. “It is an extraordinary example of the power individuals have to create positive change when they think and act locally.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, the Lyme Land Trust now has more than 3,000 acres of preserved farmland and forested wildlife habitat under management. It just completed a fundraising campaign to add another 84 acres in Hadlyme as new preserve.

The Lyme Land Trust Visionaries documentary will be aired nationally on PBS TV stations around the country and will be available on the Internet.

For more information, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/broadcast-of-film-about-lyme-and-lyme-land-trust-on-cptv/

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Application Deadline for Environmental Leadership Scholarship is Feb. 1

logoApplications are now being accepted for the Virginia R. Rollefson Environmental Leadership Scholarship, a $1,000 award to recognize a high school student who has demonstrated leadership and initiative in promoting conservation, preservation, restoration, or environmental education.

Students residing in Middlesex County, Lyme or Old Lyme are eligible to apply.

The scholarship is presented by the Rockfall Foundation and applications must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, Feb. 1. For a copy of the application or for more information, visit www.rockfallfoundation.org or call 860-347-0340.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. Established in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations whose mission is to be a catalyst– bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county’s natural environment. Rockfall awards grants each year to organizations, schools and municipalities, and sponsors educational programs and symposia.

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Preserves in Lyme Now Closed for Hunting During Weekdays

Starting yesterday, Wednesday, Nov. 16, the following Preserves in Lyme will be closed Monday through Friday until Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, except to licensed hunters with valid consent forms from the Town of Lyme Open Space Coordinator:

  • Banningwood Preserve
  • Beebe Preserve
  • Chestnut Hill Preserve
  • Eno Preserve
  • Hand Smith
  • Honey Hill Preserve
  • Jewett Preserve
  • Mount Archer Woods
  • Pickwick’s Preserve
  • Plimpton Preserve
  • Slawson Preserve

These preserves, owned by the Town of Lyme or the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, will be open on Saturdays and Sundays during this hunting period as no hunting is allowed on weekends.

The hunting program is fully subscribed.

For more information on the hunting program in Lyme, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/stewardship/hunting-program/

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Town of Old Lyme Offers Part-time Land Steward Opportunity

The Town of Old Lyme is seeking a part-time individual to maintain and manage the trail systems on its major preserves. Keeping trails cleared, maintaining markers, kiosks, entrances, parking areas, and managing for wildlife and other natural resources are the priorities.

For more information, visit the job posting on the home page of the Town’s web page at http://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/Pages/index.

To learn about the Open Space Commission and the properties it manages, visit http://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/Pages/OldLymeCT_Bcomm/open_space

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CT Fund for the Environment Annual Meeting to be Held Sunday in Hartford

Engaging and educating communities for preservation of the Long Island Sound tidal estuary

save_the_sound_logoSave the Sound is celebrating National Estuaries Week Sept. 17 – 24 with a series of interactive and educational events throughout the Long Island Sound region. This annual celebration of estuaries—the vital coastal zones where freshwater rivers meet salty seas—is sponsored by Restore America’s Estuaries and its member organizations including Save the Sound.

This year’s events call attention to the many benefits of thriving coastal ecosystems, including how estuary conservation efforts support our quality of life and economic well-being.

“The Long Island Sound estuary is not only where freshwater rivers meet the saltwater Atlantic, but where wildlife habitat meets beaches and boating, and where modern industry meets traditional oystering,” said Curt Johnson, executive director of Save the Sound, which is a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE).

Johnson continued, “All over the country, estuaries are the lifeblood of coastal economies. From serving as natural buffers to protect our coastlines from storms to providing unique habitat for countless birds, fish, and wildlife, estuaries deserve our protection and our thanks.”

Save the Sound is celebrating estuaries with a number of events this week, including the release of a new video, a presentation on Plum Island at the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library and the CFE/Save the Sound annual meeting:

Thursday, Sept. 22

plum_island_map

Aerial voew of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Save the Sound and Outreach Coordinator for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, will host Preserving Plum Island for Future Generations, a special presentation on the importance of conserving the wildlife habitats and historic buildings of Plum Island, New York.

Plum Island flanks Plum Gut in the Long Island Sound estuary’s eastern end, where fast-moving tides create highly productive fishing grounds. The talk is part of a multi-week series featuring photographs and paintings of Plum Island, and lectures on its ecology, geology, and history.

  • Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, 2 Library Lane, Old Lyme, Connecticut
  • 7 to 8 p.m.
  • Register by calling the library at 860-434-1684.

Sunday, Sept. 25

The Annual Meeting of Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound will take place in the Planet Earth exhibit at the Connecticut Science Center. The event is open to the public with registration, and will feature a keynote address from Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA’s New England Region. Spalding is a leader in combatting nitrogen pollution and in climate change resilience planning efforts for New England.

To celebrate the contributions of volunteers to restoring the Long Island Sound estuary, Save the Sound has released a new video of a habitat restoration planting at Hyde Pond in Mystic. Following removal of the old Hyde Pond dam and opening 4.1 miles of stream habitat for migratory fish last winter (see time lapse video here), in May about 30 volunteers planted native vegetation along the Whitford Brook stream bank, under the direction of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CT DEEP’s Fisheries division, and Save the Sound staff.

Find more information on the project’s benefits and funders here.

Look for the planting video on Save the Sound’s website, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

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750+ Volunteers Clean Beaches from Norwalk to New London Including Griswold Point in Old Lyme

Kendall Perkins displays a skull she found during Save The Sound's Coastal Clean-up Day held yesterday at White Sand Beach.

Kendall Perkins displays a skull she found during Save The Sound‘s Coastal Clean-up Day held yesterday at White Sand Beach.

Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the environment, organized 31 cleanups across Connecticut’s shoreline this weekend. The efforts are part of International Coastal Cleanup, which brings together hundreds of thousands of people each year to remove plastic bags, broken glass, cigarette butts, and other trash from the world’s shores and waterways. One of the areas included in the cleanup effort was from White Sand Beach to the tip of Griswold Point in Old Lyme.

The event was founded by Ocean Conservancy in 1985, and Save the Sound has served as the official Connecticut coordinator for the last 14 years.

save_the_sound_logo“We didn’t plan it this way, but I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the 31st anniversary of International Coastal Cleanup Day than with 31 cleanups!” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for Save the Sound. “The cleanup just keeps growing, in Connecticut and worldwide. We have some terrific new and returning partners this year, including the SECONN Divers, folks from the U.S. District Court, multiple National Charity League chapters, and many more.”

Cryder continued, “The diversity of the groups involved really reflects the truth that ocean health affects all of us. Clean beaches and oceans are safer for beachgoers and boaters, they’re healthier for wildlife that aren’t eating plastic or getting tangled up in trash, and they’re economic powerhouses for the fishing and tourism industries.”

The cleanups are co-hosted by a wide array of local partners including high schools, youth groups, and scout troops; churches; boaters and divers; watershed associations, park stewards, and land trusts. Twenty-eight cleanups will be held Saturday, with three more on Sunday and others through mid-October, for a total of 70 cleanups statewide.

Based on the estimates of cleanup captains, between 750 and 900 volunteers were expected to pitch in on Saturday alone. Last year, a total of 1,512 volunteers participated in Save the Sound cleanups throughout the fall. They collected more than three tons of litter and debris from 58 sites on Connecticut beaches, marshes, and riverbanks.

Over the event’s three-decade history, 11.5 million volunteers have collected 210 million pounds of trash worldwide. Every piece of trash volunteers find is tracked, reported to Save the Sound, and included in Ocean Conservancy’s annual index of global marine debris. The data is used to track trends in litter and devise policies to stop it at its source.

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Stonewell Farm Hosts Two-Day Workshop on Dry Stone Wall Building, Sept. 24, 25

Andrew Pighill’s work includes outdoor kitchens, wine cellars, fire-pits, fireplaces and garden features that include follies and other whimsical structures in stone.

Andrew Pighill’s work includes outdoor kitchens, wine cellars, fire-pits, fireplaces and garden features that include follies and other whimsical structures in stone.

KILLINGWORTH — On Sept. 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily,  Andrew Pighills, master stone mason, will teach a two-day, weekend long workshop on the art of dry stone wall building at Stonewell Farm in Killingworth, CT.

Participants will learn the basic principles of wall building, from establishing foundations, to the methods of dry laid (sometimes called dry-stacked) construction and ‘hearting’ the wall. This hands-on workshop will address not only the structure and principles behind wall building but also the aesthetic considerations of balance and proportion.

This workshop expresses Pighill’s  commitment to preserve New England’s heritage and promote and cultivate the dry stone wall building skills that will ensure the preservation of our vernacular landscape.

This workshop is open to participants, 18 years of age or older, of all levels of experience. Note the workshop is limited to 16 participants, and spaces fill up quickly.

You must pre-register to attend the workshop.  The price for the workshop is  $350 per person. Stonewell Farm is located at 39 Beckwith Rd., Killingworth CT 06419

If you have any questions or to register for the workshop, contact the Workshop Administrator Michelle Becker at 860-322-0060 or mb@mbeckerco.com

At the end of the day on Saturday you’ll be hungry, tired and ready for some rest and relaxation, so the wood-fired Stone pizza oven will be fired up and beer, wine and Pizza Rustica will be served.

About the instructor: 

 Born in Yorkshire, England, Andrew Pighills is an accomplished stone artisan, gardener and horticulturist. He received his formal horticulture training with The Royal Horticultural Society and has spent 40+ years creating gardens and building dry stone walls in his native England in and around the spectacular Yorkshire Dales and the English Lake District.

Today, Pighills is one of a small, but dedicated group of US-based, certified, professional members of The Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) of Great Britain. Having moved to the United States more than 10 years ago, he now continues this venerable craft here in the US, building dry stone walls, stone structures and creating gardens throughout New England and beyond.

His particular technique of building walls adheres to the ancient methods of generations of dry stone wallers in his native Yorkshire Dales. Pighills’ commitment to preserving the integrity and endurance of this traditional building art has earned him a devoted list of private and public clients here and abroad including the English National Trust, the English National Parks, and the Duke of Devonshire estates.

His stone work has been featured on British and American television, in Charles McCraven’s book The Stone Primer, and Jeffrey Matz’s Midcentury Houses Today, A study of residential modernism in New Canaan Connecticut. He has featured  in the N Y Times, on Martha Stewart Living radio, and in the Graham Deneen film short  “Dry Stone”, as well as various media outlets both here and in the UK, including an article in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Yankee Magazine.

Pighills is a DSWA fully qualified dry stone walling instructor. In addition to building in stone and creating gardens, Pighills teaches dry stone wall building workshops in and around New England.

He is a frequent lecturer on the art of dry stone walling, and how traditional UK walling styles compare to those found in New England. His blog, Heave and Hoe; A Day in the Life of a Dry Stone Waller and Gardener, provides more information about Pighills.

For more information, visit www.englishgardensandlandscaping.com

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CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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House Approves Courtney-Sponsored Amendment Restricting Sale of Plum Island

Representative Joe Courtney

Representative Joe Courtney

Local Congressional Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced Thursday (July 7) that a bipartisan amendment he had led, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Peter King (R-NY), to prohibit the sale of Plum Island was passed by the House of Representatives.

The amendment, which will prohibit the General Services Administration (GSA) from using any of its operational funding to process or complete a sale of Plum Island, was made to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2017..

In a joint statement, the Representatives said, “Our amendment passed today is a big step toward permanently protecting Plum Island as a natural area. Plum Island is a scenic and biological treasure located right in the middle of Long Island Sound. It is home to a rich assortment of rare plant and animal species that need to be walled off from human interference.”

The statement continued, “Nearly everyone involved in this issue agrees that it should be preserved as a natural sanctuary – not sold off to the highest bidder for development.”  Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump had shown interest in the property at one time.

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In 2008, the federal government announced plans to close the research facility on Plum Island and relocate to Manhattan, Kansas. Current law states that Plum Island must be sold publicly to help finance the new research facility.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

The lawmakers  joint statement explained, “The amendment will prevent the federal agency in charge of the island from moving forward with a sale by prohibiting it from using any of its operational funding provided by Congress for that purpose,” concluding, ” This will not be the end of the fight to preserve Plum Island, but this will provide us with more time to find a permanent solution for protecting the Island for generations to come.”

For several years, members from both sides of Long Island Sound have been working in a bipartisan manner to delay and, ultimately, repeal the mandated sale of this ecological treasure. Earlier this year, the representatives, along with the whole Connecticut delegation, cosponsored legislation that passed the House unanimously to delay the sale of Plum Island.

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July 1 Update: Aquatic Treatment Planned for Rogers Lake, July 5

We received this updated information from the Old Lyme Selectman’s office at 11:05 a.m. this morning:

In accordance with the Connecticut DEEP, Pesticide Division notification requirements, Rogers Lake in Old Lyme & Lyme will be chemically treated on Tuesday, July 5, with the USEPA/CT DEEP registered aquatic herbicide Clipper (flumioxazin) to control the non-native aquatic plants fanwort and variable watermilfoil.

The designated treatment areas will be closed to swimming on the day of treatment as an extra precaution.

Warning posters depicting the treatment areas and the associated water use restrictions will be posted at points of access around the lake.  Additionally, use of the lake water for irrigation purposes will be restricted for a period of five days or until July 11, following treatment.

The work is being performed under contract to the Towns of Old Lyme & Lyme, CT pursuant to a permit issued by the CT DEEP (Permit # AQUA-2016-352). Information regarding this treatment may be obtained from the state licensed firm SOLitude Lake Management. Contact: Keith Gazaille, Regional Director (508) 865-1000

Funding provided by the Aquatic Invasive Species Management Grant and Prevention and Education Program administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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They’re Everywhere! All About Gypsy Moth Caterpillars — Advice from CT Agricultural Experiment Station

Gypsy moth caterpillar

Gypsy moth caterpillars – photo by Peter Trenchard, CAES.

The potential for gypsy moth outbreak exists every year in our community.

Dr. Kirby Stafford III, head of the Department of Entomology at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, has written a fact sheet on the gypsy moth available on the CAES website. The following information is from this fact sheet.

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, was introduced into the US (Massachusetts) by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot in about 1860. The escaped larvae led to small outbreaks in the area in 1882, increasing rapidly. It was first detected in Connecticut in 1905. By 1952, it had spread to 169 towns. In 1981, 1.5 million acres were defoliated in Connecticut. During the outbreak of 1989, CAES scientists discovered that an entomopathogenic fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga, was killing the caterpillars. Since then the fungus has been the most important agent suppressing gypsy moth activity.

The fungus, however, cannot prevent all outbreaks and hotspots have been reported in some areas, in 2005-06 and again in 2015.

The life cycle of the gypsy moth is one generation a year. Caterpillars hatch from buff-colored egg masses in late April to early May. An egg mass may contain 100 to more than 1000 eggs and are laid in several layers. The caterpillars (larvae) hatch a few days later and ascend the host trees and begin to feed on new leaves. The young caterpillars, buff to black-colored, lay down silk safety lines as they crawl and, as they drop from branches on these threads, they may be picked up on the wind and spread.

There are four or five larval stages (instars) each lasting 4-10 days. Instars 1-3 remain in the trees. The fourth instar caterpillars, with distinctive double rows of blue and red spots, crawl up and down the tree trunks feeding mainly at night. They seek cool, shaded protective sites during the day, often on the ground. If the outbreak is dense, caterpillars may feed continuously and crawl at any time.

With the feeding completed late June to early July, caterpillars seek a protected place to pupate and transform into a moth in about 10-14 days. Male moths are brown and fly. Female moths are white and cannot fly despite having wings. They do not feed and live for only 6-10 days. After mating, the female will lay a single egg mass and die. The egg masses can be laid anywhere: trees, fence posts, brick/rock walls, outdoor furniture, cars, recreational vehicles, firewood. The egg masses are hard. The eggs will survive the winter and larvae hatch the following spring during late April through early May.

The impact of the gypsy moth can be extensive since the caterpillar will feed on a wide diversity of trees and shrubs. Oak trees are their preferred food. Other favored tree species include apple, birch, poplar and willow. If the infestation is heavy, they will also attack certain conifers and other less favored species. The feeding causes extensive defoliation.

Healthy trees can generally withstand one or two partial to one complete defoliation. Trees will regrow leaves before the end of the summer. Nonetheless, there can be die-back of branches. Older trees may become more vulnerable to stress after defoliation. Weakened trees can also be attacked by other organisms or lack energy reserves for winter dormancy and growth during the following spring. Three years of heavy defoliation may result in high oak mortality.

The gypsy moth caterpillars drop leaf fragments and frass (droppings) while feeding creating a mess for decks, patios, outdoor furniture, cars and driveways. Crawling caterpillars can be a nuisance and their hairs irritating. The egg masses can be transported by vehicles to areas where the moth is not yet established. Under state quarantine laws, the CAES inspects certain plant shipments destined to areas free of the gypsy moth, particularly for egg masses.

There are several ways to manage the gypsy moth: biological, physical and chemical.

Biologically, the major gypsy moth control agent has been the fungus E. maimaiga. This fungus can provide complete control of the gypsy moth but is dependent on early season moisture from rains in May and June to achieve effective infection rates and propagation of the fungus to other caterpillars. The dry spring of 2015 resulted in little or no apparent fungal inoculation or spread until it killed late-stage caterpillars in some areas of the state, after most defoliation.

Infected caterpillars hang vertically from the tree trunk, head down. Some die in an upside down “V” position, a characteristic of caterpillars killed by the less common gypsy moth nucleopolyhedrosis virus (NPV). This was not detected in caterpillars examined in 2015.

Physical controls include removing and destroying egg masses, which can be drowned in a soapy water and disposed of. Another method is to use burlap refuge/barrier bands wrapped around tree trunks so that migrating caterpillars will crawl into or under the folded burlap or be trapped by the sticky band.

There are a number of crop protection chemicals labeled for the control of gypsy moth on ornamental trees and shrubs. There are treatments for egg masses, larvae and adult moths. Detailed information about these chemical treatments is available in the CAES factsheet.

For complete information about the gypsy moth and its management, visit the CAES website and look for the fact sheet on gypsy moth.

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East Lyme Public Trust Invites Community to Celebrate Boardwalk Re-dedication

View_along_boardwalkOn Saturday, May 28, at 11 a.m., the East Lyme Public Trust Foundation, in co-operation with East Lyme Parks and Recreation Department, will sponsor A Dream Fulfilled, the official re-dedication of the East Lyme Boardwalk.  The re-dedication ceremony, which will be held on the Boardwalk, will feature keynote speaker, Sen. Paul Formica, former First Selectman of East Lyme.

Other speakers will include East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson, Public Trust President Joe Legg, Public Trust Past-President Bob DeSanto, Public Trust Vice-President John Hoye, and Parks and Recreation Director Dave Putnam; all the speakers will recognize the many people who have helped made this dream a reality.

The East Lyme Public Trust Foundation would like to invite the general public to witness this historic occasion.  In addition, the members would especially like to encourage the participation of the 200 people who dedicated benches and the innumerable people who sponsored plaques.

They would also love to welcome all members of the Trust – past and present – and all those who originally helped make the Boardwalk a reality.

Participants should enter the Boardwalk at Hole-in-the Wall on Baptist Lane, Niantic.  Then, there will be a short walk to the area of the monument where the ceremony will take place.  At the entrance to Hole-in-the Wall, the Public Trust will have a display of historical information and memorabilia related to the construction and re-construction of the Boardwalk.  Public Trust members, Pat and Jack Lewis will be on hand to host the exhibit titled Before and After and to welcome participants.

After the ceremony, participants will have the opportunity to visit “their bench” and re-visit “their plaque.”  During and after the dedication, music will be provided by Trust member, Bill Rinoski, who is a “D.J. for all occasions.”  Rinoski will feature “Boardwalk-related” music and Oldies plus Top 40 selections.  This historic occasion will be videotaped as a public service by Mike Rydene of Media Potions of East Lyme.  High school volunteers will be on hand to greet participants and help with directions.

The organizing committee is chaired by Michelle Maitland.  Her committee consists of Joe Legg, President of the East Lyme Public Trust, Carol Marelli, Bob and Polly DeSanto, June Hoye, and Kathie Cassidy.

Visit Facebook – East Lyme Public Trust Foundation – for more information on the re-dedication ceremony. 

For more information on the Boardwalk, explore this website.

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Lyme Land Trust Seeks to Preserve Whalebone Cove Headwaters

Lyme Land Trust Preservation Chairman Anthony Irving, kneeling, and Vice President Don Gerber next to Whalebone Creek in the proposed Hawthorne Preserve in Hadlyme.

Lyme Land Trust Preservation Vice President Don Gerber stands with Chairman Anthony Irving (kneeling) next to Whalebone Creek in the proposed Hawthorne Preserve in Hadlyme.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust has announced a fund raising drive to protect 82 acres of ecologically strategic upland forest and swamp wildlife habitat in Hadlyme on the headwaters of Whalebone Cove, one of the freshwater tidal wetlands that comprises the internationally celebrated Connecticut River estuary complex.

The new proposed preserve is part of a forested landscape just south of Hadlyme Four Corners and Ferry Road (Rt. 148), and forms a large part of the watershed for Whalebone Creek, a key tributary feeding Whalebone Cove, most of which is a national wildlife refuge under the management of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Land Trust said it hopes to name the new nature refuge in honor of William Hawthorne of Hadlyme, whose family has owned the property for several generations and who has agreed to sell the property to the Land Trust at a discount from its market value if the rest of the money necessary for the purchase can be raised by the Land Trust.

“This new wildlife preserve will represent a triple play for habitat conservation,” said Anthony Irving, chairman of the Land Trust’s Preservation Committee.

“First, it helps to protect the watershed feeding the fragile Whalebone Cove eco-system, which is listed as one of North America’s important freshwater tidal marshes in international treaties that cite the Connecticut River estuary as a wetland complex of global importance. Whalebone Creek, one of the primary streams feeding Whalebone Cove, originates from vernal pools and upland swamps just south of the Hawthorne tract on the Land Trust’s Ravine Trail Preserve and adjacent conservation easements and flows through the proposed preserve. Virtually all of the Hawthorne property comprises much of the watershed for Whalebone Creek.

“Second, the 82 acres we are hoping to acquire with this fund raising effort represents a large block of wetlands and forested wildlife habitat between Brush Hill and Joshuatown roads, which in itself is home to a kaleidoscope of animals from amphibians and reptiles that thrive in several vernal pools and swamp land, to turkey, coyote, bobcat and fisher.  It also serves as seasonal nesting and migratory stops for several species of deep woods birds, which are losing habitat all over Connecticut due to forest fragmentation.

“Third, this particular preserve will also conserve a key link in the wildlife corridors that connects more than 1,000 acres of protected woodland and swamp habitat in the Hadlyme area.” Irving explained that the preserve is at the center of a landscape-scale wildlife habitat greenway that includes Selden Island State Park, property of the US Fish & Wild Life’s Silvio O Conte Wildlife Refuge, The Nature Conservancy’s Selden Preserve, and several other properties protected by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust.

Map showing the location of the proposed Hawthorne Preserve.

“Because of its central location as a hub between these protected habitat refuges,” said Irving, “this preserve will protect forever the uninterrupted access that wildlife throughout the Hadlyme landscape now has for migration and breeding between otherwise isolated communities and families of many terrestrial species that are important to the continued robust bio-diversity of southeastern Connecticut and the Connecticut River estuary.”

Irving noted that the Hawthorne property is the largest parcel targeted for conservation in the Whalebone Cove watershed by the recently developed US Fish & Wildlife Service Silvio O Conte Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

Irving said the Land Trust hopes to create a network of hiking trails on the property with access from both Brush Hill Road on the east and Joshuatown Road on the west and connection to the Land Trust’s Ravine Trail to the south and the network of trails on the Nature Conservancy’s Selden Preserve.

Irving said there is strong support for the Land Trust’s proposal to preserve the property both within the Hadlyme and Lyme communities and among regional and state conservation groups. 

He noted letters of support have come from the Hadlyme Garden Club, the Hadlyme Public Hall Association, the Lyme Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Agency, the Lyme Planning and Zoning Commission, the Lyme Open Space Committee, the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, the Lyme Garden Club, the Lyme Public Hall, The Nature Conservancy, The Silvio O Conte Refuge, the Connecticut River Watershed Council, and the Friends of Whalebone Cove, Inc.

He reported that between Hawthorne’s gift and several other pledges the Land Trust has already received commitments of 25 percent of the cost of the property.

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Old Lyme Tree Commission Celebrates Arbor Day

Members of the three groups gather around the new oak tree. From left to right are Kathy Burton, Joanne DiCamillo, Joan Flynn. Anne Bing, Emily Griswold and Barbara Rayel.

Members of the three groups gather around the new oak tree. From left to right are Kathy Burton, Joanne DiCamillo, Joan Flynn. Anne Bing, Emily Griswold and Barbara Rayel.

“One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade” – Chinese proverb

The Old Lyme Tree Commission is pleased to announce the partnership of three community groups who combined their energy and experience to organize and implement the planting of five new trees in town to celebrate Arbor Day and to enhance the landscapes at Town Woods Park and Lyme Street.

Offloading a tree.

Offloading a tree.

Two red maple trees and one copper beech tree were planted behind the playground at Town Woods Park with a goal of providing some much needed shade to the area as they mature. The Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club ‘Love Your Playground’ Project provided the funding for the trees.

From left to right, Emily Griswold, Joanne DiCamillo and Barbara Rayel shovel soil around the beech tree.

From left to right, Emily Griswold, Joanne DiCamillo and Barbara Rayel shovel soil around the beech tree.

The Duck River Garden Club participated in The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut ‘Plant a Connecticut Native Oak’ project. The oak is our state and national tree and one of the finest for sustaining wildlife. The oak tree is located behind the concession building where it will grow into a large, stately specimen. In addition, a new columnar maple tree was planted in front of Town Hall by the Old Lyme Tree Commission.

River End Nursery crew plants a maple at Old Lyme Town Hall.

River End Nursery crew plants a maple at Old Lyme Town Hall.

After two disappointing postponements due to cold and rain, Mother Nature provided a beautiful, cool, sunny morning last week, perfect for tree planting. There was excitement in the air when the carriers from Millane Nursery and Canterbury Nursery arrived at the park with the trees. River End Landscape was onsite to unload them, remove the shipping materials, prepare the holes and set them into the ground. After the last tree was planted in front of Town Hall, they staked and mulched all of the trees.

The Junior Women’s Club and the Garden Club have established a watering schedule at the park. The Tree Commission will water the tree at Town Hall.

It was wonderful to work together on a noteworthy project that brings beauty and longevity to the landscape. The Old Lyme Tree Commission encourages all community members to celebrate this Arbor Day. Plant a tree!

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