October 19, 2021

First EEE Positive Mosquitoes Confirmed This Year in Voluntown; Southeast CT Residents Advised to Take Appropriate Precautions

HARTFORD — (10/02 Press Release Issued By CT DPH) The Connecticut Department of Public Health is advising residents in southeastern Connecticut to protect themselves and their children from mosquitoes to reduce the chance of contracting eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.

Mosquitoes trapped in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown on Sept. 23 have tested positive for EEE. These results represent the first EEE positive mosquitoes identified in the state by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station this year. 

The mosquitoes were Culiseta melanura, a predominately bird-biting species, and Ochlerotatus canadensis, a mammal-biting species.  Connecticut residents are reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases.

“We encourage residents of southeastern Connecticut to take simple measures such as wearing mosquito repellent and covering bare skin, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “While the detection of EEE virus is of concern, it is important to remember that we do not expect to see a lot of mosquito activity in the month of October.” 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a serious but rare illness caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can only acquire the virus by feeding on infected wild birds. In most years, the virus is found only in species of mosquitoes which feed on birds, but occasionally the virus can be passed on to other mosquito species known to bite people and horses. 

The virus cannot be passed from person to person or from horses to humans. The risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases such as EEE virus usually increases through the late summer and early fall. Mosquitoes are active until the first heavy frost.

Infection with EEE virus can cause serious illness affecting the brain. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, and decreased consciousness. The disease is fatal in 25-50 percent of cases and many of those who recover experience lasting health problems.

Individuals with symptoms suggestive of EEE infection should contact their physician immediately. No human vaccine against EEE virus infection or specific antiviral treatment for clinical EEE virus infections is available.

To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes residents should:

  • Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Be sure door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active.  Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect babies when outdoors.
  • Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.

Connecticut Mosquito Management Program

The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science. These agencies are responsible for monitoring the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

The CAES maintains a network of 108 mosquito-trapping stations in 87 municipalities throughout the state. Mosquito traps are set Monday through Thursday nights at each site every 10 days on a rotating basis.

Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) for testing according to species, collection site, and date. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the CAES website at http://www.ct.gov/caes/mosquitotesting.

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

Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden Welcomes Community to Open House This Morning

Volunteers tend the Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden at Town Woods Park.

OLD LYME — In March 2021, a group of interested residents of Lyme and Old Lyme met on Zoom to plan the Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG), a garden dedicated to growing and donating all produce to local food pantries. As the end of summer draws near, the group is delighted to share their progress and invite readers to visit the site.

The LOLFSG will be holding another Open House/Work Sessions on Saturdays, Sept. 25 from 8 to 11 a.m. at the garden, which is located behind the field house and playground at Town Woods Park.  All are welcome.

Jim Ward, who conceived the original idea for the garden and has been the driving force behind its development, explained, “Board members are anxious and excited to share the progress we have made in establishing the garden and look forward to answering any questions concerning our vision.”

In the months following the inaugural meeting, the LOLGSF participated in a crowdsourcing fundraiser sponsored by Sustainable CT in which 82 donors helped raise $8350.  With $7500 of those funds being matched, the LOLFSG was able to purchase fencing materials and broke ground at Town Woods Park in June.

A view of the Community Share Garden showing the three raised beds in the background.

Ward commented enthusiastically, “Through the dedicated efforts of volunteers, an eight-foot deer fence has been erected, the installation of an irrigation system is in progress, three raised beds have been built and additional in-ground beds have been prepared.  We are on track to plant and harvest our first crops in Spring 2022!”

As the number of LOLFSG members increases, volunteers of all ages are invited to join the organization. Ward invites readers to consider volunteering, visiting the garden, or continuing to support the LOLFSG financially.

He notes, “Our next steps are to complete the installation of the irrigation system, install electricity, erect a storage shed and garden (plant, weed, water, harvest).   Updates and additional photos are available through Facebook, Instagram or at the LOLFSG website.”

Alberio, Andromeda, Milky Way & More: Super Sights on Most Recent ‘Dark Skies’ Night in Lyme

The Milky Way rising like steam from the teapot of Sagittarius. Photo by Roger Charbonneau Jr.

LYME — As the setting sun dipped below the horizon on the evening of Sept. 3, the quick cooling gave a hint of the damp night to come. Indeed, our equipment was already showing bits of moisture as the wet air let go of its precious cargo.

Unlike previous sessions, the moisture-laden air belied the towns and cities nearby as their unshielded light fixtures reflected against the water vapor in the atmosphere. With this unmistakable glow, we all became aware first-hand of the insidious effects of light pollution.

Despite that, we were ready to observe whatever this evening’s skies were ready to reveal.

Early in the evening, we had reviewed what a Dobsonian telescope is all about, and how it differs in form and function from the other telescopes on hand, namely, Schmidt Cassegrain reflectors.

We also did a quick review of how to locate the Summer Triangle, Polaris, the Little Dipper, and the handle of the Big Dipper. The bowl of the Big Dipper was below the tree line all night, as it will be for several months to come. 

Most striking of the early ‘stars’ to shine in the night sky was the great planet Jupiter and its four brightest moons. Throughout the night we checked back in on Jupiter, and by night’s end it was readily apparent that those little dots of light had actually moved in their orbits around Jupiter.

Up and to the right of Jupiter, we also trained our telescopes on Saturn and its glorious rings. The next few months will afford ongoing opportunities to see both of these gas giants all night long.

With the sky darkening more slowly than usual because of the high humidity and resultant glare of city lights, we challenged ourselves to observe the Milky Way. Lyme skies are pretty dark, and it became easier and easier to discern the Milky Way as the dusk turned to night. Even in the poor seeing conditions that night, everyone was able to see the obvious ‘steam rising from the teapot’ of Sagittarius. At the zenith, the Great Rift of the Milky Way was visible to all. 

From there, we checked in on the globular cluster M13 in Hercules and the open cluster M25 in Sagittarius. Later in the night, we brought M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, into view in Scott Mallory’s 12” Dobsonian.

Despite being almost 3 million light-years away, Andromeda is our home galaxy’s nearest neighbor. It can be observed in binoculars, and on a dark night, it can even be discerned with the naked eye.

To learn how to spot Andromeda, we traced out the Great Square of Pegasus, and then learned how the right-hand triangle of the “W” of Cassiopeia points to Andromeda, and how to star-hop along the lower left corner of Pegasus’ Great Square to the precise location of that great galaxy.

The binary star Alberio. Photo by Alan Sheiness.

At the end of the evening, we observed Alberio, the nose of Cygnus the Swan, and we could all see that it is actually a beautiful binary pair of stars of contrasting colors.

The Lyme Land Trust will continue to hold monthly dark sky observing sessions, usually on the Friday night closest to new moon. As always, first-timers without any equipment are welcome to share the evening with us.

We also highly encourage those with telescopes to bring them out, even if it has been a while since they were taken through their paces. This way, our debutantes will be able to spread out and share the views from more telescopes. Scott and I will be happy to help with setup if your skills have become rusty.

Our observing site is likely just what you have been hoping for. We have acres of open field, with the east and south tree lines well off in the distance, and Polaris visible above the tree line to the north. And we have two other prepped sites in the same large field to allow a setup that better favors the west or the north, if need be.

Learn more about our upcoming astronomy sessions at lymelandtrust.org.

And most of all, come on out!

About the author: Alan Sheiness is a 10-year resident of Lyme, CT, and treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust (LLT). A life-long astronomy enthusiast and astrophotographer, Sheiness is a promoter of dark skies and along with Lyme resident Scott Mallory has established a new astronomy program as part of LLT’s public offerings. Contact them at alan.sheiness@icloud.com and scott.mallory@gmail.com .

Observing Session Explores the Wonders of Lyme’s ‘Dark Skies’

LYME — On July 30, Lyme Land Trust held a public observing session at its dark sky site. Attendees hailed from Westbrook, Colchester, and Lyme. Observers were able to take advantage of three telescopes, a spotting scope, and binoculars.

Observers gathered, darkness fell and the ‘spotting’ began. Photo by Roger Charbonneau Jr.

We gathered before darkness and learned what the Perseid meteor showers were all about: why we see them; why they are called Perseids; and why best observing is after midnight. Attendees are now duly informed.

As the sky darkened, the brightest stars became visible one after the other, and we were taught mnemonics and tips for orienting in the summer sky. From the Big Dipper, we learned to “arc to Arcturus” and “spike to Spica”. Next up was the Summer Triangle, formed by the prominent stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair.

With that starting point, we outlined the constellation Cygnus the Swan with Deneb as the ‘tail’ and observed the ‘nose’ of the swan, Alberio, through the telescope. At low magnification all could see that it is actually a binary star system, consisting of one blue and one yellow star.

As darkness took hold, Saturn and then Jupiter rose in the east. Between the two planets, we could see seven of those giant planets’ moons; four of Jupiter and three of Saturn. Saturn’s rings were easily discernable all night long.

Now fully dark, we traced out the outlines of Scorpio and Sagittarius with pointing equipment, and then the ‘steam’ rising from the Teapot in Sagittarius: the Milky Way itself. All night long we noted as the Milky Way became easier and easier to make out, arching upward and northward back through Cygnus and ultimately disappearing into the northern tree line.

Within the Milky Way, we aimed our telescopes at M8 The Lagoon Nebula, the globular cluster M22, and various other open clusters. High overhead in the constellation of Lyra (where Vega resides), we examined M57, The Ring Nebula, which is a supernova remnant from times long gone. In Hercules, we trained the scopes on the famous globular cluster M13, a dense collection of individual stars that meld into a round orb of light.

The Milky Way was visible throughout the night observing session, becoming consistently easier to distinguish. Photo by Roger Charbonneau Jr.

In between telescope observing, we sharpened our Big Dipper-, Little Dipper- and Polaris-spotting skills. Within the Big Dipper we noted that the middle handle star is actually two stars, one much dimmer than the other, named Alcor and Mizar, also known as the ‘Horse and Rider’.

We saw several shooting stars blaze in the sky, which were, of course, Perseid meteors, and several satellites passed overhead during the night. The most famous such passing, and by far the most prominent, was the ISS International Space Station!

It is so rewarding to look up and take in the natural beauty of the night sky. Our Lyme night sky is uniquely dark owing to our unpopulated open spaces and prudent land management. The Lyme Land Trust is dedicated to promoting dark skies by hosting observing sessions aimed at familiarizing you with the splendid vistas that lie straight overhead.

LymeLine readers are invited to join our next observing session. Telescopes are encouraged and welcomed, but first-timers without any equipment are equally welcome to share the evening with us.

Learn more about Lyme Land Trust, and our upcoming astronomy sessions, at lymelandtrust.org.

About the author: Alan Sheiness is a 10-year resident of Lyme, Conn., and treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust (LLT). A life-long astronomy enthusiast and astrophotographer, he is a promoter of dark skies and, along with Lyme resident Scott Mallory, has established a new astronomy program as part of LLT’s public offerings. You may contact them at alan.sheiness@icloud.com and scott.mallory@gmail.com .

Ledge Light Announces Raccoon Tests Positive for Rabies in Gales Ferry

A press release from LLHD states that a racoon in Gales Ferry, “…  was tested and found to be positive for rabies on Aug. 3.”

NEW LONDON — Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) has announced that a raccoon in the Town of Gales Ferry was tested and found to be positive for rabies on Aug. 3.

On account of that finding, LLHD says, “The public should refrain from feeding or approaching any wild or stray animals” in the towns covered by their Health District. These include both Lyme and Old Lyme.

In a press release issued Aug. 10, LLHD states, “Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including people. It is  spread mostly by wild animals, but stray cats and dogs may also become infected and spread the virus. The  rabies virus lives in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals. Rabies can be spread by scratches from  infected animals or when infected saliva comes into contact with open wounds, breaks in the skin or  mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.)”  

If you have any questions or concerns, contact LLHD at 860-448-4882 or Ledyard Animal Control at 860-464-9621.

Here a Bear, There a Bear …

LYME/OLD LYME — Around 5:50 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, Paul and Barbara Hallwood had just returned to their home on Sterling City Rd. in Lyme, when they saw the black bear, pictured above, hard at work in their yard.

Paul explained, “The bear had destroyed our bird feeder, bending the sturdy, metal pole [and] holding it up to a  right angle with ease. It treated the bird seed holder, which can be seen in the photo, like a lollipop wrapper, tearing at it and then tipping seeds out before eating them and grunting with satisfaction.”

The last the Hallwoods saw of  the bear – and the seed holder – was when the bear dipped down below their patio and, in Paul’s words,  “… presumably, moved on to somebody else’s garden.”

Paul and Barbara Hallwood

Asked, “How did you feel when you saw the bear?” Paul replied, “It was an OMG moment, and just look at the thickness of that fur with rippling muscles also evident!”

Was it the first time they had seen a bear in their yard?  Paul responded in the affirmative, saying, “First time we had ever seen one in our garden or anywhere for that matter. We knew then and there that that was the end of our bird feeder joy – well, at least until the hibernation season.”

He added, “As many neighbors as possible were immediately alerted to the danger.”

We were also sent the photo below, which was taken July 9, in Old Lyme at about 7:30 p.m. by Ron Breault at his neighbor’s house. Breault noted, “Then for the next hour plus the bear roamed our backyard and ravaged our bird feeders.”

Photo by Ron Breault.

We will let Paul Hallwood have the last word on the current, local black bear situation with his wise comment, “It’s a good idea not to feed the birds.”

Virtual ‘Clean-up Coffee Hours’ Offer Training for ‘Source to Sea’ Volunteers; Next Session, Aug. 11

Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Clean-up volunteers have removed tons of trash over the 24 years of the river clean-up event. Find out how to join the effort this September at one of three virtual Clean-up Coffee Hours, starting July 14.

GREENPORT, Mass./LYME/OLD LYME — The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) will host three virtual Clean-up Coffee Hour sessions leading up to their 25th annual Source to Sea Clean-up being held this fall, Sept. 24-26.

The annual Source to Sea Clean-up is a river clean-up coordinated by CRC in all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin (NH, VT, MA, CT). Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities clean trash from the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat.

Join CRC at these virtual Clean-up Coffee Hours to learn more about how to get involved in the Source to Sea Clean-up:  

·         Registration and Site Selection:  Wednesday, July 14,  12 – 1 p.m. 

·         Trash Disposal and Tallies:  Wednesday, Aug. 11,  4 – 5 p.m.

·         General Q&A: Thursday, Sept. 9,  5 – 6 p.m. 

Additional details and links to register for these online events can be found at www.ctriver.org/events.

“These coffee hours will be a fun, informal way to get familiar with this year’s Source to Sea Clean-up,” says Stacey Lennard, CRC’s cleanup coordinator. “Anyone can come with questions about the process, or just come to meet other group leaders and volunteers. The Source to Sea Clean-up strengthens community while cleaning up our rivers and streams. It’s an opportunity for you to make a difference.” 

The Source to Sea Clean-up is one of the largest river cleanups in the country. Thousands of volunteers participate each year to remove trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails and more.

To learn more about how you can register for the Source to Sea Clean-up, connect with a group, choose a trash site, and tally your trash, tune into any of these three Clean-up Coffee Hours.   

Since 1952, Connecticut River Conservancy has been the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. They collaborate with partners across four states to protect and advocate for the state’s rivers and educate and engage communities. They bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of your river and its tributary streams. Healthy rivers support healthy economies.

To learn more about CRC, or to make a contribution to help protect your rivers, visit www.ctriver.org.  

Op-Ed: Save Our Beautiful Dark Skies From The Threat Of Light Pollution

Editor’s Note: This Op-ed was submitted by Alan Sheiness of Lyme, Conn.

How often have you stopped to notice how wonderfully bright and alive the stars are in our peaceful town of Lyme, especially once turning off one of our ‘major thoroughfares’ like Rte. 156 or Brush Hill Rd.?

That dark sky up there is a part of our world. It is as much a gift to us as are the forests, the trails within those forests, the rivers and waterways, and everything else that makes Lyme special.

As part of the Sustainable CT effort (sustainablect.org) we seek to inform the public about light pollution and how to arrest its insidious spread across our region.

What do I mean by light pollution? Light pollution is what occurs when a preponderance of lighting, and poorly-designed lighting fixtures, create a glare both locally and across entire swaths of geography, which renders the night sky as a dim shadow of itself. 

The universe is ours to behold just for the simple act of looking up at night. Except, in so many places all over the country and indeed the world, light pollution is removing those vistas much as deforestation and asphalt and other aspects of modern life remove the natural wonders that are part of our terrestrial consciousness. 

Guarding against light pollution really comes down to two simple principles: do not light what does not need to be lit, and when you do need to light something, do it with a source that is effective and efficient.

Our little town, because of its almost non-existent commercialization and heavy forestation, is indeed a miraculous enclave from the typical onslaught of ineffective lighting. We need to keep it that way. 

We can do so by ensuring that all new lighting projects, residential and commercial, take light pollution into account, protecting the night sky, no different than protecting a watershed or any other natural habitat. To the extent that existing installations are night sky-unfriendly, we should consider replacing those fixtures over time with ones that do a better job pointing down with an efficient light source. 

Our environment makes Lyme what it is, and we can be a leader in the sky just as we are on the ground. Please endeavor to learn more about the beauty of the night sky and the threat of light pollution.

A great place to start is here: International Dark-Sky Association.  Also, you can experience the splendor of our night sky first-hand, with experienced astronomers as your guide, by signing up for future observing sessions hosted by the Lyme Land Trust at lymelandtrust.org

That look up there is through a window into our universe, and it should be our intention to keep that window pristine for ourselves and our future generations.

About the author: Alan Sheiness is a 10-year resident of Lyme, Conn., and treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust. Among other interests, he is a life-long astronomy enthusiast and astrophotographer. He has documented lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, the Venus transit of the Sun, a Mercury transit of the Sun, many of the planets, star clusters, and nebula; all admittedly decidedly amateur in result, but rewarding nonetheless. Sheiness is a promoter of dark skies and interested in establishing a new Astronomy Society in Lyme as an adjunct activity within the scope of the Lyme Land Trust. Contact him at alan.sheiness@icloud.com.

Lyme-Old Lyme’s Food Share Garden Reaches Fundraising Goal, Further Donations Will Support Additional Needs

Lyme-Old Lyme Community Share Garden Board Members gather for a photo. From left to right are Jack Larocca, Jim Ward, Peter Hunt, Amy Mastrangelo, and Sheila McTigue-Ward.

Editor’s Note: Several hours after we published this article, we heard the wonderful news from Jim Ward that the fundraising goal of $7,500 had been reached. He greatly appreciates this, “tremendous support to the start of the garden.” He notes however, that, “While this gives us the ability to install a fence and purchase tools and equipment we have other important projects in the pipeline such as an irrigation system, electrical hook up, and a shed. Any further donations will assist us towards the completion of these projects.”

OLD LYME —The Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG) set itself quite a challenge back at the end of March.  The group launched a crowdfunding campaign with a target to raise $7,500.

If that amount is successfully raised by May 26, then the project will receive a matching grant of $7500 from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund — an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide.

The Community Match Fund — supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank —provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects. 

As at today’s date, the campaign stands at a remarkable $7,145.00!

Old Lyme resident Jim Ward is the inspiration behind the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Share Garden.

Asked what he felt about the community’s response to the campaign, the originator of the project Jim ward said, “We are extremely pleased and excited about the community’s support. Not only are we about to reach our goal, but we also have added several new volunteers. The generosity of the residents of Lyme/Old Lyme demonstrates the commitment they have towards helping those in need.”

He added, “I would also like to thank SustainableCT for making this possible.”

The LOLFSG celebrated a significant accomplishment on May 1 when members of the Board of Directors and Garden Design Committee staked out the perimeter of the future food share garden at Town Woods Park in Old Lyme.

All produce from the garden will be donated to area food pantries and food banks. 

Ward, a resident of Old Lyme since 2006, was the inspiration behind the project. While working towards his UCONN Master Gardening Certificate in 2020, he volunteered with the Food for All garden in Clinton, CT.

As a volunteer, he was impressed by the organization of the garden, humbled by the increasing demands on community food banks and food pantries, and energized by the sense of community that the garden embodied. He noted similar trends while visiting similar gardens in Old Saybrook, Pomfret and Killingworth and sought to develop a garden in the Lyme-Old Lyme area.

In the ensuing months, Ward worked with multiple town agencies to procure a site at the Town Woods Park, a recreational park overseen by the town Parks & Recreation Commission.

Ward describes the site as “ideal” in that the sports fields are organically maintained and the parcel of land, in addition to the fields, contains a playground and the Lymes’ Senior Center, thus making the garden accessible to multi-generational families in the towns.

Furthermore, he notes, through generous cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Commision, the garden has access to water, electricity and parking. 

The LOLFSG plans to have a fully functional garden by the spring of 2022. To make this vision become a reality, the organization is actively involved in grant writing and fundraising.

Notably, the Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden is raising money through a crowd-sourcing effort supported by Sustainable CT. 

Measuring for the garden are Peter Hunt (left) and Carie Tonovitz.

The money raised by LOLFSG’s crowdfunding campaign was launched to enable the organization to erect a deer/rodent fence and purchase tools and equipment. 

Ward was delighted to share with LymeLine that the deer fencing has now been ordered and is set for installation on June 5-6.  He noted that the Rubitiski family has offered their backhoe to dig a trench for the rodent part of the fence.

In other updates, he said that:

  • LOLCSG Board Member Amy Mastrangelo watches as Mike Baczewski of New England Pollinator Garden tests the soil at the garden.
    Baczewski generously donated the soil testing.

    Board member Amy Mastrangelo arranged for Mike Baczewski of New England Pollinator Gardens to take soil samples from the garden for testing. New England Pollinator Gardens is donating the testing to the garden project.

  • Estate Solutions of Branford donated several tools consisting of rakes, shovels, sprayer,  etc, with more to come.
  • A small group visited the Food For All Garden in Clinton where we were given a tour of the facility and the opportunity to ask questions about composting, fundraising, irrigation, volunteering, and many other topics. They also donated a picnic table to our cause.
  • A meeting is planned with United Way to discuss a possible collaboration.
  • The board has met several times in the past months and continues to work hard.
  • A bank account has been established and has a positive balance.
  • The Design Committee met at Town Woods and measured and staked out the garden area and installed “Future Site of LOL Food Share Garden” signs.
  • A donation of tools has been made.
  • A Region 18 high school student, Connie Pan, is painting a couple of Rain Barrels for us. One of the Rain Barrels is being donated to Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library for their new garden.
  • LOLCSG received a $350 grant from the CT Master Gardening Program. These funds were put towards the SustainableCT fundraising effort.
  • LOLCSG applied for a Pfizer Community Grant for an irrigation system.

If you wish to donate to this project, visit this link.

 

Open Space Coordinator Seeks Volunteers to ‘Nip the Knotweed,’ This Morning

Japanese Knotweed

LYME — On Friday, May 14, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Lyme’s Open Space Coordinator is looking for volunteers to help the Town remove invasive Japanese knotweed from a few areas in Lyme.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves, clippers or loppers and bottled water.
The plan is to cut the knotweed down to the ground and bag the plant material using the “method of 3s,” which involves undertaking three chops this growing season (May, mid-July and August), then repeating the process for three years to eliminate the knotweed for good without herbicide. The cuttings must be carefully disposed of since each little piece will regrow into a new plant.

Interested volunteers should send an email to openspace@townlyme.org to register and receive more information and directions.

A brochure explaining how to eliminate knotweed at home can be found by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/2RKt2sa

Stroll Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds to Celebrate International Sculpture Day

A view across Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds looking towards Studio 80.

OLD LYME — This Saturday, April 24, the world will join in celebration of sculpture during the 7th annual International Sculpture Day, or ISDay.

The International Sculpture Center (ISC) invites artists, educators, collectors, curators and art enthusiasts across the globe to join in celebrating sculpture virtually. Take a minute to share images of your work, a favorite work by another sculptor, exhibitions, and any other way you celebrate sculpture.

Be sure to share the #ISDay hashtag on social media to be featured on sculpture.org and the ISC Instagram pages.

Three works by Gilbert Boro can be seen in this photo.

Here in Old Lyme, you will find Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, where nationally- and internationally-renowned sculptor Gilbert Boro lives and works. His beautiful property at 80-1 Lyme St. comprises 4.5 acres that roll gently down to the Lieutenant River.

There are more than 120 sculptures on display in the grounds, the majority created by Boro himself. It would be the perfect place to visit on ISDay.

Sculptor Gil Boro in his studio in Old Lyme.

The studio and indoor facilities are closed to the public until further notice due to Covid-19, but individuals are still welcome to stroll the grounds, enjoy nature and view the public artwork outdoors.

Admission is free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily but visitors must practice social distancing and other infection reduction strategies as outlined by the CDC

Sculptor Gil Boro has always encouraged visitors to touch and engage with the artwork, however, at this time, he asks that you refrain from all physical contact with the sculptures.

For more information on Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, visit this link.

Celebrate Earth Day by Participating in the 2021 Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz

The Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz is an opportunity to celebrate the natural world all around us.

LYME/OLD LYME — Today is Earth Day! Why not celebrate all that nature offers here in southeastern Connecticut by participating in the Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz?
The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center of Old Lyme invites you to consider spending an hour or two today at your convenience participating in this year’s Bioblitz.
A bioblitz is simply an effort to find as many living things as possible within a specific time period. It is free and you can take part any time today from midnight to midnight.
You do not need any particular expertise. All you need is a smart phone and the free iNaturalist app, and then follow the directions on this bioblitz webpage.
People around Connecticut will be searching in their yards, neighborhood parks, nearby nature preserves — pretty much anywhere outside. They will be spending time outdoors observing plants, insects, birds, and other living things … and you can too!

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Launches Beaver, Bird Conservation Program, Sponsored by Two Grants

Beaver activity can result in a host of beneficial impacts. Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash.

OLD LYME — Earth Day 2021 is Thursday, April 22.

In celebration, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission is launching a beavers and birds conservation/education program in the town’s Ames Open Space.

The program is sponsored by grants from The Rockfall Foundation and the Hartford Audubon Society.

The Commission’s slogan is “Let Nature Be.”

In the case of beavers, allowing their activity results in a host of beneficial impacts. Beavers are one of only a few animals that create their own habitat, which is then shared with an amazing variety of birds, plants, and wildlife.

Beaver ponds improve aquifer quality through natural filtration and regulate flow so downstream areas do not run dry in summer months.

The commission, through this program, will give beavers free reign where their activity is confined to town open space. At the same time, commission members will educationally explain the ecology of beaver ponds, which encompass so much more than dams and lodges.

Visitors, bird watchers and students will have a wonderful opportunity to observe nature in action with natural amenities at two observation sites.

Specifically, the Open Space Commission project will:

  • Use drones to aerially survey the Ames Open Space boundaries to determine if beaver activity is adversely affecting private property and seek solutions to problems, as needed.
  • Protect non-nuisance beaver activity on open space land and deter illegal vandalism.
  • Offer a wildlife educational program centered on the unique features of beaver ponds. High Definition (HD) cameras with remote access will capture wildlife activity for web-posting with help from Lyme-Old Lyme High School.
  • Create two wildlife observational areas with native-wood benches and interpretive signs on the Ames “blue” trail. QR codes will link to video footage, so visitors can watch beaver and bird activity where it was recorded and perhaps even see similar activity live.

Visit the commission’s website later this spring and summer for news of the program’s progress.

FloGris Museum Offers ‘Forest Bathing/Mindfulness’ Event Along ‘The Artists’ Trail,’ Tomorrow

Jon a Forest Bathing/Mindfulness Event along the Artist’s Trail at the Florence Griswold Museum, Saturday. Photo by Ian Dobbins.

OLD LYME — Awaken your senses tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. through a guided ‘Forest Bathing’ mindfulness experience along the Florence Griswold Museum’s Artists’ Trail. The session feature slow walking, sensory immersion, and experiential sharing. This event will be held rain or shine (dress accordingly).

Face masks and physical distancing required.

Forest Therapy fosters a reconnection with nature through a slow-paced walk, punctuated with invitations that open your senses to engage with the natural world. As a certified Forest Therapy Guide, Regan Stacey designs and facilitates forest bathing experiences to be in rhythm with the seasonal landscape, thus offering you an optimum opportunity to reconnect to nature and yourself.

Stacey is an artist, environmentalist, and the founder of Awaken the Forest Within, a nature-connected practice that reconnects humans to nature to heal themselves, their communities, and the earth.

Stacey holds a BS in biology from the Pennsylvania State University and an MFA from Lesley University. She lives among the hills and forests of Lyme, Conn.

Visit this link to learn more about this nature-centered experience.

The fee for this event is $40 for Museum members and $45 for non-members. Reservations are required.

Questions? Call the Front Desk at (860) 434-5542 ext. 111, or frontdesk@flogris.org.

To visit the Museum the same day, Forest Bathing participants must book a separate admission ticket, selecting “Be Our Guest” as the ticket type. Proceed all the way through the admission booking process — the total will be $0 but must be booked and confirmed separately from the Forest Bathing ticket.

All Welcome to Free Presentation via Zoom on Pollinator-Friendly Lawns, Tonight; Hosted by ‘Pollinate Old Lyme!’

Learn how to create a pollinator-friendly lawn on Wednesday with Tom Christopher. Photo by Petar Tonchev on Unsplash.

OLD LYME — Zoom signups are now open for a free presentation on Pollinator-Friendly Lawns with Tom Christopher. All are welcome to the presentation, which begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14.

Email PollinateOldLyme@gmail.com to request the Zoom link.

Pollinate Old Lyme! presents gardener, author, and podcast host Tom Christopher. Christopher will give practical advice about sustainable lawns, including different grasses, clover and grass mixes, how to reduce chemical inputs and change mowing practices.
The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.
A graduate of the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture, Christopher has spent the last 45 years designing and tending gardens, authoring and editing gardening books, magazine features and giving talks. Most recently he launched the Growing Greener weekly podcast. Having lived for years in Middletown, Conn., Christopher and his wife Suzanne now do most of their gardening in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.
Learn more about Christopher at https://www.thomaschristophergardens.com

Whalebone Cove Friends Hold Annual Meeting; Features Talk on Handling Local Explosion of Invasive Hydrilla

This photo was taken September 2020 during an inspection of Whalebone Cove, in which it was found that 60 to 70 percent of the waterways were clogged with hydrilla vines.

LYME — The Friends of Whalebone Cove host their annual meeting virtually Sunday, April 11, at 3 p.m. All are welcome.

The featured speaker will be Margot Burns, who is an environmental planner for the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG.) For a Zoom link to the meeting, send an email to: fowchadlyme@gmail.com

In the last three years, underwater invasive hydrilla (water thyme) vines have been spreading rapidly throughout the Connecticut River, choking its coves, bays, and tributaries and making them almost impassable for kayaks, canoes, motor boats, and many fishermen.
The spread of hydrilla is a major problem for the Connecticut River, which has exploded exponentially in just the last two years. More than 65 percent of Whalebone Cove was covered by it last year and 90 percent coverage is anticipated this year. Selden Cove, meanwhile, experienced 80 percent coverage in 2020.

This aerial picture shows hydrilla covering the Mattabasett River north of Middletown, CT, August 2020 by Greg Bugbee, Conn Agriculture Extension Station, New Haven.

Burns will discuss the worrisome spread of hydrilla and what steps need to be taken to mitigate its effect on the Connecticut River watershed and prevent its spread elsewhere in the State.
For more information about the problem and current responses to it, watch Invading the CT River — The Spread of Hydrilla and/or visit this link.
There are also four informative webinars on CT River Aquatic Invasives: Parts 1 through 4, links to which are provided below:

 

RTP Estuary Center Hosts Virtual Program on Butterflies; All Welcome, Registration Required

A monarch butterfly takes a momentary rest. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME — This evening at 6:30 p.m., the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) presents Butterflies: Monarchs, Migrations, and Conservation, when Robert Michael Pyle, Ph.D., conservation biologist and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, will be interviewed by Evan Griswold.

This interview is part of the 2021 Connecticut River Lecture Series offered by the RTPEC. The program is free but registration is required at https://www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-programs-events to obtain the Zoom link.

Pyle is one of the world’s leading experts on butterflies and other invertebrates.

He is the founder of The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of butterflies and all invertebrates and their habitats.

Dr. Robert Michael Pyle

A prolific author and renowned raconteur, Dr. Pyle has written 22 books, including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Wintergreen, winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, and Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place, winner of the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.

He is also the author of a book about the origins of the Sasquatch legend that became the subject (fictionalized) of the major motion picture The Dark Divide. 

In addition, Dr. Pyle has published four books of poetry and his newest book, Nature Matrix, a collection of essays about a life immersed in the natural world, has been nominated for the 2021  PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

Dr. Pyle grew up and learned his butterflies in Colorado, earned a Ph.D. in butterfly ecology at Yale and worked as a conservation biologist in Papua New Guinea, Oregon, and Cambridge, England.

Dr. Pyle will be interviewed by Evan Griswold, a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a prominent Connecticut conservationist, who was also a classmate of Dr. Pyle’s at the Yale School of the Environment/School of Forestry. Their discussion will focus on Dr. Pyle’s life’s work on invertebrates and monarch butterfly migration and conservation.

Included with participation in the lecture is a special offer: a dinner available for pick-up on the day of the event prepared by renowned chef Ani Robaina, formerly chef at the Microsoft Conference Center and the Pond House in Hartford, and currently owner and chef at Ani’s Table. The cost for the dinner is $75.

For additional information and Zoom registration, visit ctaudubon.org/RTPEClectures or call 860-598-4218.

The RTPEC’s Connecticut River Lecture Series is celebrating its seventh year with these Zoom presentations – each featuring a prominent scientist focusing on a critical environmental issue.

The third in the series on April 29 will focus on The Secret Life of Plankton: The Base of the Marine Food Web. All of the programs are free, but space is limited and registration is required.

Named for the internationally and locally renowned artist, scientific illustrator, environmental educator, and conservation advocate, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is known for its work in environmental education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

Throughout the past year, the Center has continued to serve young people and adults across the region, offering small group programs like bird walks and owl prowls, a virtual Connecticut River ecology course, seasonal nature crafts for children via Zoom, and more.

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, Sustainable CT Will Match Funds Raised up to $7,500

Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden President Jim Ward (second from left) talks to attendees at a site walk held Saturday of the area proposed for the new garden at Town Woods Park.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG) is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. This past Saturday, LOLSFG President Jim Ward hosted a tour of the proposed site for the garden at Town Woods Park in Old Lyme and today a major fundraising initiative to support the project begins.

The mission of LOLSFG is to establish a sustainable, organic garden to grow fresh produce for local food pantries. Ward notes that the proposed Town Woods site is, “An organically maintained recreational park with access to water, electricity, parking and plenty of sunlight.” 

He told LymeLine, “The site walk was a great success. Sixteen people attended and we met and talked for over an hour. Participants thought the location was ideal.”

Asked why a fundraising campaign is necessary at this point, Ward explains, “Our immediate priority is to fund and install an 8′ deer/rodent fence to protect future plants.  Additionally, we are in need of equipment and tools to assist in bed preparation, garden development and ongoing tasks.”

He adds, “A successful campaign will allow us to procure and install the deer fence in June,” pointing out that, “With the area secure, we can move forward with the garden design and preparation of the planting beds for our initial planting in the Spring of 2022.

Ward says enthusiastically, “This will enable us to begin delivering fresh produce to local pantries in the summer of 2022.”

The project’s organizers are asking the community to support this initiative by donating to a crowdfunding campaign or volunteering in the effort.  If the campaign reaches its $7,500 goal by its fundraising deadline of May 24, 2021 the project will receive a matching grant of $7500 from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund, which is an innovative funding resource for public, community-led sustainability projects.

“I am very excited, as a successful campaign will put us months ahead of our original projections and allow us to install a fence and prepare all garden beds this summer. This will allow us to begin planting and growing fresh healthy produce in the entire garden next spring. Realistically, we can begin delivering fresh produce to local food pantries next summer,” comments Ward

It is anticipated that the garden project will have a long-lasting impact on the community.  The LOLFSG plans to incorporate educational opportunities around subjects such as composting, rain barrels, and sustainable gardening. 

One opportunity will be for volunteers to expand their knowledge of organic farming through formal and informal collaboration with veteran and master gardeners.  For example, a master gardener mentor has agreed to share his expertise in composting while establishing the garden’s compost system. 

The LOLFSG is also partnering with the Pollinate Old Lyme organization to provide a venue for a local pollinator species walkway outside the garden fence.  

The installation of the fence and acquisition of tools and equipment will complete the first phase of the garden. 

The second phase consists of the installation of an irrigation system and a tool shed.  We are in the process of writing grants and seeking other funding to accomplish this phase of the project. With the completion of both these phases, Ward expects annual expenditures to be approximately $3.000 to $5,000.

Sustainable CT is an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide.

The Community Match Fund — supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank —provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects. Anyone can lead a project and ideas can be proposed at any time. 

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change,” said Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT.

He adds, “Match Fund projects are community-led and community-funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities.”

Editor’s Notes: i) For LOLFSG project details and to donate, visit: Patronicity.com/LOLFSG and visit this link to read our first article on the project.
ii) If you have a great idea for a public project in your community, contact Sustainable CT at hildingsalorioa@easternct.edu.

Ward Continues Efforts to Start Lyme-OL Community Share Garden, Visit to Proposed Site Scheduled This Morning

OLD LYME — Continuing his efforts to start a Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG), Jim Ward hosted an introductory meeting March 15, for everyone interested in the project. More than 30 people attended the Zoom meeting, which Ward hosted at both midday and 6 p.m., to enable maximum participation.

He noted that anyone who wishes to view the proposed site for the Food Share Garden at Town Woods Park can join a tour this coming Saturday, March 27, at 9 a.m.

The presentation can be viewed in its entirety on the LOLFSG website. A great deal of additional information about the project is also available on the site.

Ward’s carefully organized agenda covered his vision for the garden, the phases he envisioned in development of the garden, and the committees he believes need to be set up to achieve his objectives. These latter included

  • Fundraising
  • Garden design/plan
  • Publicity/ website/social media
  • Tools/equipment
  • Volunteer organization, i.e. schedule, weekly needs, etc.

He elaborated on ways anyone interested in the project can help, identifying various opportunities as follows:

  • Join a Committee
  • Join the Board of Directors
  • Donations can be sent to LOLFSG, PO Box 395, South Lyme, CT 06376
  • Stay tuned for SustainableCT matching funds
  • Direct friends to the website and Facebook page
  • Stay tuned for notification that LOLFSG can accept online donations and spread the word!
  • Site layout – Date to be determined
  • Volunteers to take soil samples for testing

There was clearly a great deal of enthusiasm for the project among those attending and Ward has already been able to form a board of directors for the LOLFSG.

Asked Thursday how the project was taking shape in general terms, Ward said in an email, “Things are progressing nicely,” adding enthusiastically, “It’s supposed to be great weather Saturday, so it would be nice to see and meet people [during the visit at  9 a.m. to the proposed site] and have some conversations about the garden.”

For more information on the project, read the article Initial Planning Meeting Scheduled Today at 6pm via Zoom for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, All Welcome, published in LymeLine.com March 15, and/or  contact Jim Ward at jimdub@gmail.com.

Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission Continues Public Hearing on Big Y’s Controversial Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal to Next Month

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. Map courtesy of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee.

OLD LYME — Around 50 people joined Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the proposal presented by Big Y Foods for a gas station/convenience store at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd., which was hosted Tuesday via Webex by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC).

According to the application submitted to the IWWC, the proposal is for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application states that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

The IWWC’s role is to assess whether there is potential for significant impact to the watercourses located on the property proposed for the development. Commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio stressed both at the Feb. 23 meeting of the IWWC and at this meeting that it is not under this commission’s purview to consider zoning, planning or traffic matters.

The Commission had received written responses from the project engineer for the applicant, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, of Alfred Benesch & Co. to comments by the IWWC engineer Thomas Metcalfe and soil scientist Eric Davison of Davison Environmental. These have been published on the Town website at this link.

Since Martin Brogie, of Martin Brogie, Inc., the applicant’s soil scientist, was not able to attend the meeting due to being hospitalized for COVID, the applicant’s attorney, Robin Pearson, requested that the hearing be continued until next month.

The commission heard testimony from Dr. Michael W. Klemens, who has a PhD in Ecology/Conservation Biology. He was introduced by Marjorie Shansky, the attorney representing the intervenor at  85 Halls Road, LLC.

Krewson said that a major problem he was facing in terms of assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project was that “We don’t know where the boundary of the vernal pool is … we need to understand where the vernal pool is … to determine what is present in the vernal pool.” He noted that the most recent data available is from 2006, but emphasized, “There needs to be a lot more detail.”

He noted, “Wood frogs are a unique and special case. They are actually involved in nutrient recycling,” adding, “We need to see robust data on biodata.” Klemens said he would assume, “The majority of the migration comes from the north,” but stressed again, “We need to know [what is at the vernal pool.]”

The owner of the adjoining property Brain Farnham at 29 Neck Rd. responded to comments that he was not permitting access to his property to inspect the vernal pool. He said, “There are diucks in that pond. It’s their breeding season. That’s why I’m resisting people walking on my property.”

Gaudio countered that, as someone who had obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in Biological Sciences and the second in Wildlife Conservation and Mangement, prior to attending law school and receiving a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy, she understood Farnham’s concerns. She stated, however, “I don’t think a scientist would go out and be a big impact [on the property or duck nests],” noting the inspection would primarily involve walking around the edge of the pool and looking for evidence of wildlife.

Chairman Gaudio agreed to continue the hearing until Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., when it will be held again via Webex. She urged all parties, including members of the public, to submit any further comments by the end of the day on April 26.

The Public hearing will likely be closed on April 27, but the IWWC will not necessarily vote on the proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: The full Minutes of the meeting have now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.