April 5, 2020

Lyme Garden Club Hosts ‘Spring Wildflowers in Connecticut,’ Tuesday; All Welcome

LYME — Interested members of the public are invited to attend “Spring Wildflowers in Connecticut” hosted Tuesday, March 10, by the Lyme Garden Club.

Margery Winters, from Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton, Conn., will speak about wildflowers in the state during the meeting at Lyme Fire Company, 213 Hamburg Rd./Rte. 156, Lyme, CT.

Refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting begins at 10 a.m.  The program follows at 11 a.m.

For further information, contact Membership Chair, Andy Brennan at (860) 434-4207.


Message From Ledge Light on Tractor-Trailer Fire in N. Stonington, Keep Clear of Pawcatuck River, Tributaries in Specified Area

AREAWIDE — We have been sent a message from Stephen Mansfield, Director of Health, Ledge Light Health District for immediate publication:

This afternoon, a tractor trailer was traveling northbound on I-95 in North Stonington and crashed into the bridge over Rte 49. The truck and trailer caught fire and was extinguished.

It has been determined that the tractor trailer was carrying various herbicides and pesticides. Though much of the materials were consumed by fire, DEEP is currently assessing the possible effects on surface and groundwater, including assessing water quality in the Pawcatuck River and its tributaries.

Residents are advised to avoid the Pawcatuck River and its tributaries from the junction of I-95 and Rte. 49, south to the mouth of the Pawcatuck River. [Our bold]

DEEP, the state agency leading this response, is working with the cargo carrier, CT DPH Drinking Water Section, Ledge Light Health District, Westerly Water Dept. and local officials regarding this incident, and will be providing more details as they become available.


Old Lyme Land Trust Board Issues Statement on Black Hall Pond/Beaver Activity

OLD LYME — Yesterday evening, we received the following statement from the Old Lyme Land Trust Board of Trustees regarding Black Hall Pond/Beaver Activity.

Members of the Old Lyme Land Trust and its Board investigated the claim made by Mr. Berggren, certain Town of Old Lyme officials, and others, that one or more animal obstructions on the Jericho Preserve have restricted the water flow from Black Hall Pond and caused the water level to rise by as much as two feet within the Pond. 

Several weeks ago, one beaver dam was located on the Jericho Preserve approximately two thousand feet south of Black Hall Pond; this dam, when breached, lowered the water level at Mr. Berggren’s dock by approximately six and one-quarter inches. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, Old Lyme Land Trust volunteers forded Bucky Brook from Whippoorwill Road to Black Hall Pond and found no significant animal obstructions on the Jericho Preserve, or any other parcel between the Preserve and Black Hall Pond, that would impede water flow or raise the waters of Black Hall Pond to the level claimed by Mr. Berggren and others. 

The current water level in Black Hall Pond is not the result of any animal obstructions on the Jericho Preserve. 

This information was shared with Mr. Berggren on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020.


CT Audubon Calls for Ban on Harvesting of Horsehoe Crabs

Editor’s Note: This evening represents a very convenient opportunity for Lyme and Old Lyme residents to express their opinions to the CT DEEP on whether to change the state’s horseshoe crab regulations. We support CT Audubon’s proposal, which calls for a ban on harvesting horsehoe crabs and for better law enforcement to control illegal harvesting.  Read more below as to why this is such an important issue and plan to attend this eveing if this situation concerns you.

The familiar sight of horseshoe crabs on Connecticut beaches is under threat. Photo courtesy of CT Audubon Society.

OLD LYME —The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is considering changing the state’s horseshoe crab regulations. The DEEP is holding a public meeting on the issue at 7 p.m. tomorrow, (Thursday, Feb. 20) at its Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Rd., in Old Lyme.

The Connecticut Audubon Society is calling on state officials to ban the harvest of horseshoe crabs in Connecticut and to increase law enforcement efforts to curtail illegal horseshoe crab harvesting.

Horseshoe crab populations have been in decline in Long Island Sound and elsewhere for at least 15 years, jeopardizing these ancient creatures themselves while also imperiling the many species of migratory shorebirds that eat the horseshoe crabs’ protein-rich eggs.

In written testimony to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins noted that state efforts to limit the harvest have failed to stop the population decline.

“We strongly feel that because of the poor stock levels of horseshoe crabs in our region, the only remaining course of action is to invoke a moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs in Connecticut,” he wrote.

Last year the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which sets quotas for commercial fishing, determined that the region’s horseshoe crab population was in “poor” condition. In response, the CT DEEP is considering changing the state’s horseshoe crab regulations and tomorrow’s meeting is an opportunity for the public, including members of the Connecticut Audubon Society, to give their thoughts on the subject (read the public notice here and the meeting notice here).

Horseshoe crabs – which are harmless to humans and largely docile – generally thrive in shallow coastal waters, where they live in marshes and bays. They emerge from the sea in late spring and early summer to lay their eggs. Shorebirds, in particular the Red Knot, time their migration to their northern breeding grounds to coincide with the horseshoe crabs’ egg-laying.

Federally-threatened Red Knots depend on an abundant supply of horseshoe crabs eggs for survival. Photo courtesy of CT Audubon Society.

The drastic drop in the number of horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound and especially along Delaware Bay, has led to a near collapse of the population of Red Knots, which recently were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Red Knots used to be fairly common on the beaches at Milford Point, and at Sandy Point in West Haven,” Comins said. “No longer. Their numbers have dropped far enough that in recent years sightings have been limited to a handful. Sadly, a Red Knot on our beaches now is a noteworthy occasion.”

Over the last 18 years, the number of horseshoe crabs harvested in Connecticut has ranged from 12,175 in 2001 to a high of 32,535 in 2008. From 2013 through 2018 the number was about 20,000 per year. Horseshoe crabs are harvested commercially for use as bait in the eel and whelk/conch fisheries. The season in Connecticut runs from May 22 to July 7, although horseshoe crab fishing is banned in Milford, Stratford, West Haven, and Westbrook. The CT DEEP has issued only 12 licenses, with no plans to issue more.

Connecticut Audubon’s call for a ban echoes that of the state’s leading horseshoe crab expert, Prof. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. Mattei and a team of students and volunteers, working under the name of Project Limulus, have been studying the state’s crabs for more than two decades.

Based on her observations and those of dozens of Project Limulus volunteers over the years, Mattei estimated that in addition to the legal harvest, thousands of horseshoe crabs are illegally harvested every spawning season in Connecticut.

The result of the legal and illegal harvests is a near-collapse of horseshoe crabs.

In her testimony to the CT DEEP, Mattei wrote: “The density of spawning horseshoe crabs is so low that the females cannot find mates and therefore this population is not reproducing at its maximum potential. The density of spawning horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound is so low that shorebirds do not have the eggs as a food resource … The overharvest of this species in Connecticut and New York has resulted in the ecological links to shorebirds and fish to be broken.”


Learn How to Plant a Pollinator Garden on ‘CT Outdoors’ with Old Lyme’s Suzanne Thompson

OLD LYME — Now more than ever, pollinating insects and animals need our help to survive says Kim Eierman, environmental horticulturist and landscape designer and author of The Pollinator Victory Garden. And humans depend on pollinators, which are critical to our food supply and are responsible for the reproduction of the vast majority of all flowering plants on our planet.

Eierman, who lives in Bronxville, NY, is this week’s guest on Suzanne Thompson’s weekly CT Outdoors radio show. Thompson is an Old Lyme resident.

The 30-minute show airs at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, and 7 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26, on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook & WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown and streaming at www.wliswmrd.net.

Kim Eierman

The Pollinator Victory Garden provides step-by-step advice on how to attract different kinds of pollinators to yards and landscapes, with lists of native plants for multiple settings. It includes pointers on how to provide year-round habitat support for bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and many other pollinators most people don’t realize are a vital part of healthy ecosystems.

See more about pollinators, ecological landscapes and native plants at Eierman’s website, www.ecobeneficial.com. To play back her interview with Suzanne at any time, visit www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to CT-Outdoors-12120—Pollinator-Victory-Gardens.


Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts Plethora of New Programs in New Year

OLD LYME — The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) has announced an extensive range of new programs for the early months of 2020 as follows:


Wednesday, Jan. 8 , 10-11am
Theme: A Long Winter’s Nap – Animal Hibernation
RTP Estuary Center, Old Lyme

Start their love of nature early. Join us for this parent/caregiver and child nature class designed for children who are 3 to 5 years old. Activities will encourage discovery, explorations, and expression through stories, hands-on activities, and art.  Adult is free with child participant.

$15 members; $20 non-members. Register here


Tuesdays January 14, 21, 28, February 4, 11, and Monday, February 17, 5:30 pm
Old Lyme

Perhaps no other group of birds harbor as much mystery and intrigue as owls. As we’re heading to sleep they are just starting their day. These nocturnal hunters are perfectly adapted to life in darkness, from their silent flight to their unique eyes and ears. Join us at the newest and largest Old Lyme Land Trust property as we search for the incredible birds, and learn about what makes them such perfect nighttime fliers. Bring a headlamp or flashlight (preferably one with a red light setting) and binoculars, and bundle up! Appropriate for ages 10 and up. *Limit of 12 participants per program*

$5 for members, $10 for non-members

Tuesday, January 14 – Register
Tuesday, January 21 – Register
Tuesday, January 28 – Register

Tuesday, February 4 – Register
Tuesday, February 11 – Register
Monday, February 17 – Register


Greater Scaup, male in foreground.

Saturday, Jan. 18, 9 – 10:30 am
Griswold Point, Old Lyme

As the lakes and ponds of the northeast freeze over, many species of waterfowl head to the coast, to open water. Sea ducks, Loons, Grebes and more call the coast of Connecticut home during the winter. The mouth of the Connecticut River, on Long Island Sound, is the perfect place to spot these winter species gathering just offshore. Bring your binoculars, and layer up! We will provide a spotting scope, an essential piece of equipment for waterfowl watching.

$5 for members, $10 for non-members, register here


MLK Day Vacation Program with the RTP Estuary Center
Monday, Jan. 20; 9am – 4pm
Lyme Youth Services Bureau, Old Lyme

Explore the natural world of winter with the RTP Estuary Center! Outdoor explorations, hands-on science experiments, games, and creative activities are in store!  Winter attire required. Program is for ages 6 – 11. Each child should bring a water bottle and a nut free snack and lunch. Registration is required.

$40 members, $50 non-members. Registration is required. Register here


Thursday, Jan. 30, 5 pm
RTP Estuary Center, Old Lyme

Join us for the grand unveiling of our new CT River Estuary mural! This volunteer collaborated acrylic mural depicts our local estuary plants and animals at both the micro and macroscopic levels. You’ll also be able to see inside our ever changing and improving center and meet one-on-one with the teacher-naturalists and artists of the mural. Learn about the different styles that each of the artists brought to this collaborative piece and their background as budding or established artists. This event is free.

Register here


Whooo Wants to Learn about Owls?
Saturday, Jan. 25; 10:30 – 11:30 am and 1-2 pm
Saturday, March 7; 10:30-11:30 and 1-2 pm
RTP Estuary Center, Old Lyme

Join us for an hour with an owl! Our teacher-naturalists will be presenting Cookie, the barred owl while we learn about this local species up close including where and when they nest, what they sound like and ways you can help ensure a healthy population of barred owls in CT! We will also be examining real owl feathers, dissecting owl pellets, and identifying mammal bones. $15 members, $25 non-member, $10 for children 10 and under

Saturday, Jan. 25 10:30-11:30am – Register
Saturday, Jan. 25 1:00-2:00pm – Register

Saturday, March 7 10:30-11:30am – Register
Saturday, March 7 1:00-2:00pm – Register


Photo by Brian Bennett

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 6:30-7:30pm
RTP Estuary Center, Old Lyme

Thursday, Feb. 13, 6 – 7 pm
Wild Birds Unlimited, Niantic

Sunday, Feb. 16, 9 – 11 a.m.
Connecticut College Arboretum, New London

Since 1998, people all over the world have participated in the first citizen science project to collect wild bird data, the Great Backyard Bird Count! Join us at the RTP Estuary Center for an informational session about the history and background of the count, as well as how to conduct your own Great Backyard Bird Count! On Sunday, February 16 come practice your skills in the field at the Connecticut College Arboretum in New London, a designated important bird area. Whether you are a seasoned birder or a novice, this is a great opportunity to learn how to identify and count birds in the wild, and be a part of a worldwide citizen project.
This program is free, but we ask that you register.

Register for the RTPEC Info Session here

Register for the Wild Birds Unlimited Info Session at 860-739-7302 or at wbuniantic@sbcglobal.net

Register for Field Session here


Feb. 22, 9-10:30am
Watch Rock Preserve, Old Lyme

Shake off your cabin fever, head outside and join one of our teacher-naturalists for a winter walk. We will look for tracks, listen for birds and enjoy the beauty of the woods in winter. Keep warm by trying to complete our winter scavenger hunt!

$5 members, $10 non-members, children 6 and under free, register here


Lyme-Old Lyme HS Senior Builds Benches For OL Land Trust’s Lohmann Preserve as Eagle Scout Project

Old Lyme Land Trust Secretary Anne Galliher stands with Boy Scout Alec Russell during the dedication ceremony for the benches built by Russell as part of his Eagle Scout project.

OLD LYME — Anyone who has visited the John Lohmann CT River Preserve recently has undoubtedly noticed the two new cedar benches. These were built as the Eagle Scout project of Alec Russell of Boy Scout Association Troop 240. Alec is a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Russell proposed and planned this service project, organized a work team, secured donations of material from United Building Supply and Laysville Hardware. He worked with his team of adults and fellow scouts to build the benches, using cedar for its weather, insect and decay resistance.

One bench is on the riverfront where it offers views of Essex and Lords Cove year round. The other is at the top of the path leading down to the river.

The inscription on one of the benches built by Alec Russell for the Lohmann Preserve in Old Lme.

The bench commissioning celebration was held on a blustery riverside day but that did not deter a hardy group of Old Lyme Land Trust members, scouts and the Russell family from enjoying the views and warm beverages. The neighbors at Long River Farm loaned their ATV to bring in the provisions.

The benches are located in an area that is being reforested with pitch pine, a species used extensively in early days for ship building and railroad ties. Pitch pine has become scarce in Connecticut and has a particular preference for its habitat. On advice of the Connecticut River Gateway Commission and forest managers, about 20 hardwood trees were removed by Yankee Tree to encourage growth of the pines.

The John Lohmann Preserve and all other Old Lyme Land Trust preserves are always open and available for public use for hiking and enjoying the outdoors in Old Lyme.


Volunteers From Old Lyme Open Space Commission, CT Hiking Alliance Join Forces to Remove Fencing on McCulloch Farm

A veritable army of volunteers from both the Old Lyme Open Space Commission and the Connecticut Hiking Alliance worked together on Nov. 9 to take down and dispose of the old fences on the McCulloch Farm property , which was recently acquired by the Town. Photos by and published with permission of the CT Hiking Alliance.

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme purchased 300 acres of the McCulloch farm in September, and the Old Lyme Open Space Commission has been working since to prepare the property for public access.  Coincidentally, the Connecticut Hiking Alliance (CHA) was at the same time looking for worthwhile volunteer projects.

It was a perfect match for both organizations and thus the McCulloch Farm horse-fence removal project became the CHA’s Act of Kindness #76. 

The CHA is an active group with three trademarks – day’s activities end with an “Après-hike” social period; they graciously provide “Acts of Kindness,” whether that be muscle power/manual labor, cash donations, in-kind donations, and goods donations; and they love photo memories, taking lots of pictures and posting them on their website. Volunteers from the group take on trail work around the state.

Hard at work, volunteers take stock of the day’s job ahead of them.

Amanda Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair, and Bill Ruel, of CHA, put Saturday, Nov. 9, on the organization calendars.  Ruel and about two dozen volunteers from all across Connecticut showed up early that morning at The Bowerbird in Old Lyme to meet with Open Space Commission members, and everyone car-pooled to the McCulloch property (where construction of parking areas hasn’t yet started.)

The day’s job was to dismantle and dispose of old McCulloch Farm horse-fencing. According to a McCulloch family member, rubber strips strung between cedar posts were cut from old factory conveyor belts and installed some 40 years ago to keep prize-winning Morgan horses in the fields.

According to Blair, “Taking down the fencing was a big step as the property transitions from a farm to a beautiful hiking property.  McCulloch open space and the Old Lyme Land Trust’s neighboring Lay Preserve will be an expansive 450-acre ‘Green Corridor’ with great hiking trails to connect one property to the other.”

The fencing pictured above, which was removed by the volunteers, is believed to have been cut from old factory conveyor belts some 40 years ago.

“We’re so, so grateful for the help from the Connecticut Hikers Alliance to do some of the needed grunt work.  It’s been all volunteers from both groups working together for a good cause.”

In a preview of the future, after the fencing take-down, Hiking Alliance volunteers trekked from the McCulloch property through the Lay Preserve to Lord’s Meadow Lane, and back.  Keeping it an all-Old Lyme event, the volunteers enjoyed their “après-hike” social period at the Hideaway Restaurant and Pub.

Photos of the day’s activity can be found @https://www.meetup.com/The-Connecticut-Hiking-Alliance-great-hikes-and-more/photos/30513732/486511049/

For more information about the Connecticut Hiking Alliance, visit this link.

For more information on the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, visit this link.


Old Lyme’s Duck River Garden Club Recognized with Multiple Awards for Members’ Efforts

Duck River Garden Club members accept the club’s awards at Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut annual awards luncheon in October. From left to right: Denise Dugas; Kathy Burton, past president; Karen Geisler, vice president; Fay Wilkman, president; Suzanne Thompson, youth & scholarship coordinator; Beverly Lewis and Nan Strohla, past president & newsletter editor.

OLD LYME — The Duck River Garden Club (DRGC) of Old Lyme has received multiple awards from Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut for the club’s civic beautification, education and horticultural therapy efforts over the past year.

The Old Lyme club, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020, was presented the awards at the statewide federation’s annual awards meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Aqua Turf Country Club. The recognition includes three traveling trophies to be enjoyed for the coming year.

The DRGC’s monthly hands-on floral arranging programs for residents of Bride Brook Nursing Home received an Award of Excellence in Garden Therapy. The club’s weekly educational displays at Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, including “Houseplant Renaissance” and “Gardening for Birds and Butterflies” won the Civic Creativity Award.

This DRGC display outlines two of the clubs projects that were awarded traveling trophies, the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library displays and the Police Department native pollinator bed. Watch for this display in coming weeks at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

The ongoing project of redesigning and replanting the flower beds in front of the Old Lyme Police Department at 294 Shore Road with low-maintenance, pollinator-supporting native plants received the Award of Excellence for Historic, Memorial and Public Gardens. This is one of several civic beautification sites that DRGC volunteers maintain each year in Old Lyme.

The club’s monthly newsletter, produced by Paula Schiavone, and annual yearbook, compiled and edited for the past decade by Karin Kline, received First Place recognitions.

Duck River Garden Club (DRGC) President Fay Wilkman receiving one of the three top honors for DRGC at the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut awards meeting.

DRCG will hold a series of programs in 2020 to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary. This will include a traveling historic display of gardening in Old Lyme, curated by the Old Lyme Historical Society. Watch for more information on DRGC’s website, www.oldlymeduckrivergc.org or call Fay Wilkman, DRGC president, 860-391-2622.

Many congratulations to all these wonderful, green-fingered ladies and gentlemen!


Lyme Garden Club Fall Birdseed Fundraiser Continues Through Nov. 13

LYME — Lyme Garden Club is holding their Annual Fall Birdseed Fundraiser from now until Nov. 13. All seed is fresh because it is this year’s crop. All profits support the club’s Beautify Lyme projects.

Choices include:

Black Oil Sunflower Seed 50 lb. @ $36 & 25 lb. @ $23

Striped Sunflower Seed 50 lb. @ $32 & 25 lb. @ $24

Sunflower Seed Chips 50 lb. @ $66 & 25 lb. @ $36

Song Maker Mix 40 lb. @ $32 & 20 lb. @ $20

Thistle 10 lb. @ $20 & 5 lb. @ $12

Suet Cakes $1.50 or case of 12 @ $18

Suet/Seed Wreaths @ $20

Pick up is Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Lyme Fire Company parking lot (behind the firehouse) 213 Hamburg Rd. (Rte. 156) from 10 a.m. until noon.  Delivery is available for $5.

For further information, contact Judy at 860-526-9868 or jwd50@comcast.net by Nov. 13.


Why Do Birds Crash? Potapaug Unravels the Mystery of ‘Window Collisions,’ Tonight in Old Lyme

Windows can present a ‘clear and present danger’ to birds in flight. Find out why at Thursday evening’s lecture hosted by the Potapaug Audubon Society. Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash.

OLD LYME — Harry Bird of the Potapaug Audubon Society presents ‘Window Collisions’ on Thursday, Oct. 3,  at 7 p.m. at Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme. All are welcome.

This fascinating talk will investigate the hazards to birds of window collisions. It is a complex topic, which will be looked at from a variety of angles. Possible solutions will be offered, and it is hoped a lively discussion will follow.

This presentation exemplifies the Society’s mission to provide informative and entertaining subjects.

For more information about the Society, visit their website.

For more information on this presentation, visit the Presentation Toolkit.


Update From Old Lyme Town Hall Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis

OLD LYME — The following e-mail was sent out from Old Lyme Town Hall at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday evening.

A message from First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder:

Today we learned that a resident of Old Lyme has become the second victim of the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or the Triple-E virus. The Town of Old Lyme sends heartfelt condolences to the family of the victim. While we do not have the identity of the person at this time, I am sure that the loss is felt by all of the residents of Old Lyme.

Many have asked what the Town is doing with this threat in mind, so here is an update:

The Selectman’s Office has been in regular contact with Ledge Light Health District, has participated in scheduled conference calls with the State Dept. of Public Health, which provides updates on tests and recommendations, and is following all of the recommendations to date. The next conference call is scheduled for this Thursday.

Since Friday of last week, we have warned all outdoor sports activities to end by 5:30 PM (which may get earlier as the days grow shorter) and warned people to move indoors well before dusk.

We post all updates from Ledge Light Health District on our website.

The Town currently contracts with Innovative Mosquito to manage our plan to address nuisance mosquitos, which are primarily daytime-biting mosquitos. We regularly use non-chemical dunks in our catch basins, and monitor the mosquito population along the marshland of the shoreline neighborhoods. When warranted, backpack adulticide spraying is done to reduce the population. But these daytime-biting mosquitos have not tested positive for EEE virus. It is the night time mosquitos that have tested positive, and so far, none of the mosquitos tested from Old Lyme have been positive for the virus.

With the latest victim from Old Lyme, our contractor has increased trapping in the freshwater areas of town to assess the population, and the State Dept. of Agriculture has done the same, testing those caught for the virus. Those results are not yet available, but based on the outcome, recommendations will be made and followed by us.

If spraying is recommended, we will follow up immediately, and are prepared to do so.

We continue to stay in touch with our Health District and the State Dept. of Health, and will follow all recommendations that they give us.

We urge all residents to take this threat seriously, and take all precautions to avoid mosquitos.

Once again, our heartfelt condolences are sent to the family whose loved one has succumbed to this tragic illness.


State Announces Old Lyme Resident Tests Positive for EEE, Confirms Death of East Lyme Resident Diagnosed with EEE


Yesterday, Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell announced a second Connecticut resident has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) infection. The patient is an adult resident of Old Lyme, who became ill during the second week of September with encephalitis and remains hospitalized. Laboratory tests, which were completed Friday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevvention (CDC) Laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colo., confirmed the presence of antibodies to the virus that causes EEE.

Friday afternoon, DPH learned that the first person diagnosed with EEE this year in Connecticut passed away earlier this week. The patient, an adult resident from the Town of East Lyme, was hospitalized with encephalitis in late August. This is Connecticut’s first fatal human EEE case since 2013.

“The identification of two Connecticut residents with EEE, one of whom has passed away, emphasizes the seriousness of this infection,” cautioned DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman Mitchell. “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes continue to be active until the first heavy frost.”

States throughout the Northeast are also experiencing an active season for EEE. In addition to the virus being found in mosquitoes, there have been a total of 10 human cases of EEE infection in Massachusetts, including two fatalities, and three human cases in Rhode Island, including 1 fatality. Although EEE-infected mosquitoes continue to be detected in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, the numbers are declining and we are not experiencing the excessively high levels of
activity seen in Massachusetts. Although EEE-infected mosquitoes continue to be detected in the southeastern corner of the State, the numbers are declining and the area is not experiencing the excessively high levels of activity seen in Massachusetts.

It takes four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE. Severe cases of EEE virus infection result in encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Approximately a third of patients who develop EEE die and there is no specific treatment for EEE.

The DPH continues to advise against unnecessary trips into mosquito breeding grounds and marshes as the mosquitoes that transmit EEE virus are associated with freshwater swamps and are most active at dusk and dawn. Overnight camping or other substantial outdoor exposure in freshwater swamps in Connecticut should be avoided. Even though the temperatures are getting cooler, mosquitoes continue to be active until the first heavy frost and residents should continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites. Pesticide spraying to kill adult mosquitoes is unlikely to be effective at this time of year when it is cooler at night and mosquitoes are less active.

First Human Case of West Nile Virus (WNV) Identified in Connecticut This Year 

The DPH is also announcing an adult resident of Danbury has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) infection. This is the first human case of WNV identified in Connecticut this season. The patient became ill during the third week of August with encephalitis and is recovering. Tests performed at the CDC Laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colo., confirmed the presence of antibodies to the virus that causes WNV disease.

West Nile virus has been detected in the state every year since 1999. While WNV has been detected in mosquitoes in the state this season, the numbers of infected mosquitoes identified have been lower than the historical average. The mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most abundant in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations.

Most people (8 out of 10) infected with WNV do not develop symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. In 2018, 23 human cases of WNV virus were identified in Connecticut residents, including one fatality.

Connecticut Mosquito Management Program

The management of mosquitoes in Connecticut is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and the Department of Public Health (DPH), together with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Connecticut (UCONN). These agencies are responsible for monitoring and managing the state’s mosquito population levels to reduce the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

For information on what can be done to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes and the latest mosquito test results and human infections, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program web site at https://portal.ct.gov/mosquito

For more information about EEE prevention, visit the CDC website:https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/gen/pre.html


Old Lyme’s Christ the King Church Hosts Harvest Festival & Rummage Sale Today

Bargain hunters stand patiently in line at last year’s King’s Rummage Sale.

OLD LYME — Autumn arrives officially in Connecticut on Sept. 23, and Christ the King Church in Old Lyme is celebrating the new season with its family-friendly Harvest Festival Saturday, Sept. 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the huge King’s Rummage Sale held during the Harvest Festival, you’ll find housewares and kitchen items, books and CDs, holiday decorations, jewelry, bicycles and exercise equipment, furniture, rugs, artwork, toys, and more.

Find a bargain (or two!) at the King’s Rummage Sale in Old Lyme, Sept. 21 and 22.

At the Harvest Festival, kids of all ages can try their luck at Games like Soccer Kick, Hockey Shot, and Bust-a-Balloon; get creative with Paint-a-Pumpkin; or simply have their face painted.

There will be games galore at Christ the King’s Harvest Festival.

The Silent Auction offers exciting items like artwork, gift certificates, and themed baskets to bid on.  Local musicians will provide entertainment for you to enjoy while you have lunch or snacks prepared by the Men’s Club.  You can pick out a homemade goodie at the Bake Sale — and choose some autumn color for your home at the Fall Plants & Produce stand.

All the fun of the fair will be happening at Christ the King’s Harvest Festival, Sept. 21.

Admission to Christ the King’s Harvest Festival is free.  Proceeds from the 2019 Harvest Festival will be directed towards the cost of refinishing the hardwood floors in the church.

The Harvest Festival and Rummage Sale take place at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme.

The Rummage Sale, Bake Sale, and Plant Sale will continue after the Masses Sunday morning (Sept. 22) from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (with steep discounts on Rummage Sale items, while supplies last.)  Visit www.christthekingchurch.net for directions. And follow the church on Facebook (@ChristtheKingChurchOldLyme) for regular updates.

For more information, call 860-434-1669.


Friends of Whalebone Cove Finish Project to Clear Invasive Water Chestnut from Selden Cove

Volunteers display the fruits of their labor after working all morning to remove invasive water chestnut in Whalebone Cove.

LYME — Nine volunteers spent last Saturday morning (Sept. 7) finishing up Friends of Whalebone Cove (FOWC) two-month project of clearing more than 5,000 square feet of invasive water chestnut from Lyme’s Selden Cove.

During July, August and early September FOWC organized 10 separate “paddle & pull” expeditions involving more than 30 volunteers to rid the Cove of thousands of water chestnut plants discovered there in July.

This photo shows the dense invasive water chestnut that was choking Selden Cove prior to its removal.

Water chestnut (trapa natans) is an invasive freshwater plant native to Europe, Asia and North Africa that can cover shallow coves and slow moving rivers with a thick carpet of multi-leafed waxy medallion-like rosettes that kill native plants and deplete the oxygen in the water, driving out marine life and making swimming, fishing, and boating impossible.

A volunteer gathers invasive water chestnut in her canoe.

Because it is an annual plant and some seed pods have already dropped off the plants in Selden Cove this year before being removed, water chestnut is likely to reappear in the Cove next year and continue in future years, requiring annual removal to protect the native ecosystems of Selden Cove and nearby Selden Creek from being obliterated by the highly aggressive invasive.
Friends of Whalebone Cove is a community conservation group based in Hadlyme formed three years ago to protect and preserve the native ecosystems and wildlife habitat of Hadlyme’s Whalebone Cove and the surrounding area.

Old Lyme Closes on Land Purchase From McCulloch Family: 300 Acres Designated as Open Space, Six Acres as Affordable Housing

Gathered at the start of a recent hike are, from left to right, Old Lyme Land Trust Chairman Mike Kiernan, Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-Chairman Amanda Blair and Land Steward Peter Norris. Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair William Dunbar (not in photo) and the members of the Commission were thanked by First Selectwoman Reemsnyder for their “hard work” related to the McCulloch land acquisition.

OLD LYME — (Press release from the Town of Old Lyme) The Town of Old Lyme has closed on the purchase of approximately 300 acres from David McCulloch/the Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC effective Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The sale involved two parts – the purchase of land that is an addition to Town Open Space and the set-aside of two smaller areas to be reserved for potential affordable housing lots.

The Town paid $500,000 for the new open space, and $50,000 each for two three-acre areas off Flat Rock Hill Rd., adjacent to affordable housing lots previously given to the town by David McCulloch. If the two smaller areas are not developed as affordable housing within five years, they will revert to open space and be added to the new Open Space parcel.

The property was first assembled by Rook and Warren McCulloch in 1929, and their heirs had overlapping interests. The Vasiloff family re-configured their renowned Morgan horse farm, and moved and re-installed equine fencing before the closing. The Town’s Open Space Commission worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, which holds a conservation easement on the property, to ensure the sale specifics met their approval.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “We commend the McCulloch family for their foresight in protecting the land and for their decades of loving stewardship. This new open space will be a treasure for town residents.”

She commended members of the Open Space Commission for “their hard work on the acquisition of this beautiful property with its special ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River and linkage to our tidal marshes.”

The Open Space Commission will now partner with the Old Lyme Land Trust to map, develop and mark three trails within the McCulloch Family Open Space, with a new “Tree in the Gap” trail likely to be accessible first from Whippoorwill Road. Volunteers are welcome to join in this final step to make the property safely accessible. Help will be needed to remove old fencing and invasive plants, and to install map kiosks, gates and signage. Persons interested in lending a hand should contact the Open Space Commission via email at OpenSpaceCommission@oldlyme-ct.gov.

Upon completion of this work, a ceremony/trail inauguration will be scheduled to officially open the property to the public.


Common Good Gardeners Need Your Help! Listen For More Info on WLIS/WMRD

Old Lyme resident Linda Clough (foreground), who is Common Good Gardens President, is Suzanne Thompson’s guest on this week’s edition of CT Outdoors.

Do you have some time to spare in August to help the Common Good Gardens (CGG) volunteers harvest vegetables for Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantry (SSKP)? Join them in the garden behind Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, 9 to 10:30 a.m. (or come earlier on hotter days!)

Come learn about organic, no till gardening, at Common Good Gardens, founded in 2002 by passionate gardeners who wanted to use their expertise to benefit others.

Learn more on CT Outdoors with Suzanne Thompson on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook & WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown. Listen today, Sunday, Aug. 4, 7 to 7:30 a.m. Or play back on your PC or Mac anytime from http://www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to CT-Outdoors-73019—Common-Good-Gardens.

Planting Manager Karen Selines harvesting broccoli that will be delivered to soup kitchen pantries in Old Saybrook, Niantic and Old Lyme.

Thompson’s guest this week, Linda Clough, explains how CGG volunteers grow and harvest 8,000 pounds of produce on their half-acre lot, plus collect 10,000 pounds of produce donated by local farmstands, to help SSKP provide nutritious food and fellowship for people in need along the Shoreline.


Robert F. Schumann Artist’s Trail Dedicated in Evocative Ceremony at Florence Griswold Museum

Ford Schumann cuts the ribbon indicating the official opening of the Artist’s Trail named in honor of his father, Robert F. Schumann, at the Florence Griswold Museum. Other dignitaries gathered to witness the ceremony are from left to right, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, former Museum Director Jeffrey Andersen, Ford’s brother David Schumann, and current Museum Director Becky Beaulieu (with arms raised.) All photos by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — Several hundred Florence Griswold Museum patrons, board members, invited guests, state and local dignitaries, staff, volunteers and members of the public gathered in perfect weather at the Museum Monday morning to celebrate the opening of the Robert F. Schumann Artists’ Trail.

The dignitaries at the event pose for a photo. From left to right, David Osborne of Wells Fargo Bank; Tim Crowley of the Robert F. Schumann Foundation; Becky Beaulieu, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum; Kathleen Van Der Aue, State Board of Directors for the Connecticut Audubon Society; David Schumann; Fred Cote, Director of Finance at the Florence Griswold Museum; Ford Schumann (David and Ford Schumann are sons of Robert F. Schumann in whose honor the Artist’s Trail is named), and Patrick Comins of the Connecticut Audubon Society.

The event allowed all the guests to be among the first to experience the natural, artistic, and historic highlights of the Museum’s site via this new, half-mile, ADA-accessible pathway.

The Artists’ Trail has 242 trees, 452 shrubs, 1,705 bulbs, 2,642 groundcovers, and 8,808 meadow grasses.

There are 21 bird boxes that provide habitat for Big Brown Bats, Little Brown Bats, Barred Owls, Eastern Screech Owls, Wood Ducks, American Kestrels, Songbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Blue Herons, and Ospreys.  It was noted that most of the structures are at capacity already!

Guests had the opportunity to meet landscape architects Stimson Associates and the Mountain View landscaping team, participate in a creative activity, and also enjoy refreshments on the veranda.

In 2017, the Robert F. Schumann Foundation awarded the Museum a $1 million dollar grant for the implementation of a new vision for the 12-acre property.

Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects studied archival photographs, paintings by the Lyme Art Colonists, and previous research from archeological digs onsite to create a Master Landscape Plan, including the Artists’ Trail.

Late in 2018, Mountain View Landscape broke ground along the riverbank to prepare a rainwater garden. They also installed 19th-century repurposed granite to create tiered access to the hillside.

Since mid-March the crew has been working steadily to cut paths that will become four distinct walks (riverfront, garden, hedgerow, and woodland) that highlight the ecology of migratory bird habitats and native plans as well as locations of historical significance to the Griswold family and the Lyme Art Colony.

They outlined the footprint of the original studio of Impressionist artist Childe Hassam with granite blocks, designated the historic orchard with black locust posts, and built an overlook on the Lieutenant River.

Two members of “Three’s a Charm,” Sue Mead and Kipp Sturgeon, entertained the visitors on the grounds of the Museum during the event.

And so much more …

Behind-the-scenes, staff has been working on way-finding and interpretive materials that will help guide visitors through the natural, artistic, and historic highlights of the Museum site.

Dobie D’oench of Higganum, a 2016  graduate of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and now a member of the Lyme Art Association, paints en plein air during the event, evoking memories of how the artists of yesteryear used to paint on the grounds of what was then Miss Florence’s boarding house.

Robert F. Schumann was a devoted trustee and patron of the Museum for nearly two decades.

The Museum seeks to honor Schumann’s legacy as an avid birder, conservationist, and philanthropist by dedicating the Artists’ Trail in his honor.

Editor’s Note: For a further description of the event, visit this link to read an article by Mary Biekert of The Day titled, ‘Florence Griswold Museum celebrates opening of Artists’ Trail,’ and published July 22 on TheDay.com.  


CT Audubon Hosts Coastal Creatures Program Tomorrow Morning

Children investigate the contents of their Touch Tanks!

Photo credit: CT Audubon

OLD LYME — The Roger Tory Peterson (RTP) Estuary Center presents a program titled Coastal Creatures tomorrow, Wednesday, July 17, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, July 20, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Get up close and personal with crabs, fish and more. See and touch live animals from Long Island Sound and estuary at the RTP Estuary Center on Halls Rd. in Old Lyme.

Open to all ages. Admission is $25 member; $30 non-members;$15 children ages 2-15.

July 17 – Register here

July 20 – Register here


Two Lyme-Old Lyme Organizations Combine Their Talents to Build a Beautiful Butterfly Garden

Duck River Garden Club member Fay Wilkman digs deep during Saturday’s event with the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club to plant a butterfly garden at the Cross Lane Playground. Meanwhile, Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (standing to rear of photo) takes a break from her digging. Photo by Kimberly Russell Thompson.

A wonderful example of community cooperation took place in Old Lyme last Saturday, which generated not only a great deal of fun and camaraderie at the time, but also a beautiful garden for the future.

It all began with the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC)’s multi-year campaign to raise funds for new playground equipment at Cross Lane Park, which came to fruition with the official opening of the playground in April 2018.  During the campaign, the Club received a generous sum, to which the donor attached two requests.  The first was that it should remain anonymous and the second that it be used to create a butterfly garden at the renovated playground as a memorial.

Due to the timing of the playground’s installation, it was not possible to plant the butterfly garden last year but this year everything came together.

Sarah Michaelson plants more perennial pollinator bushes.  Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Petie Reed, owner of Perennial Harmony Garden and Landscape in East Lyme, who is a member of both the LOLJWC and the Duck River Garden Club (DRGC), proposed that the LOLJWC should share development of the project with the DRGC and the DRGC enthusiastically embraced the idea.  Reed was assisted throughout the project by her partner, Rich Oliver.
Reed worked with numerous members of both organizations including Suzanne Thompson of the DRGC and Anna Reiter, outgoing LOLJWC President. The group designed it to be a wildlife garden of native plants well-suited for the shaded, boggy terrain.  The selection of native shrubs and perennials includes aromatic sumacs, viburnum, huchera, black-eyed susans and baptisia will support many pollinator insects and birds.

Reiter explained that during design discussions, Reed, “suggested we allow for a more community feel to the garden, by allowing families to “adopt” a garden plot.” Reiter continued, “For a nominal fee, we supplied some specific native plants that will encourage local wildlife and pollinators for each of the community garden plots, and families were encouraged to bring their own non-invasive plants for their plot.”

From left to right, Kay Reiter stands with long-time DRGC member Mim Beardsley, incoming LOLJWC President Kim Russell Thompson, and Izzy Thompson.  Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

The finishing touch was that the LOLJWC also supplied a ceramic garden stake, which families can take to Ocean Art Studio in Old Saybrook to customize and then place in their garden.

Reiter noted there are still some plots available for purchase, emphasizing that the owner families and LOLJWC members will be watering the gardens throughout the summer to get them established.  Once settled in, these native plants will need minimal watering and will continue to spread and naturalize the area around the playground.
A large group of DRGC and LOLJWC members of all ages along with spouses, children, relatives and friends turned out Saturday to spend the morning cheerfully planting and watering. Fay Wilkman and Mim Beardsley, both members of the DRGC, also assisted with the installation, and incoming LOLJWC President Kimberly Russell Thompson summed up the universal feeling at the end of the successful event when she said simply, “It was a very fun day!”

Fun and flowers … and smiles! An LOLJWC member and her daughter (in foreground) and incoming LOLJWC Vice President Angela Mock and her daughter Ally all take a well-earned break from their labors.  Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Looking to the future, Reiter commented, “Petie and I hope these beds also will provide inspiration and ideas to families who want to plant more native flowers and shrubs in their own yards,” while Thompson added,  “Next steps are to seek grant funding so we can put up educational signs in the beds, to identify the plants and their benefits to wildlife.”
After expressing sincere thanks to the anonymous donor and all those who had made creation of the butterfly garden a reality, Reiter concluded positively, “We are hoping the community will walk through the gardens and enjoy the beauty of the park and the wildlife — this was a very special gift!”

Editor’s Note: Garden plots are still available for purchase at $30 each.  The purchaser must agree to tend and water their garden throughout this season.  A rain barrel and water cans are available to make watering fun and easy.  If you wish to purchase a plot, visit the LOLJWC website at www.loljwc.com or email Anna Reiter at loljrwomencub@gmail.com. There is a link to purchase a plot on the website.