July 4, 2020

Watch Rock Preserve in Old Lyme Closed Weekends Through Labor Day Due to Environmental, Safety Violations

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Land Trust (OLLT) Board of Trustees has announced that the Watch Rock Preserve in Old Lyme will be closed to all visitors from 7:30 p.m. on each Friday until 8 a.m. the following Monday from June through August. On Labor Day weekend, it will remain closed until 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

These closures are to address continued preserve use violations, which damage the environment and pose safety concerns.

The board states in a press release, “This decision to limit access to Watch Rock has been a difficult one. We recognize that the beautiful Watch Rock setting has long provided significant enjoyment for many visitors who abide by the posted rules.”

The release continues, “However, increasingly frequent and serious incidents of littering, OLLT signage vandalism, theft of newly planted native shrubs, open campfires, and late evening loitering have necessitated visitor access restrictions during the weekend periods when most of these issues occur.”

Noting, “This situation will be closely monitored, including by the police,” the board adds,  The effectiveness of the summer weekend closures will be evaluated to determine if additional steps are needed to prevent misuse and harm to this conservation land.”

In closing, the board says, “We are grateful for the continued understanding and support of all visitors, especially our members.”

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Offers Small Group Eco-adventures in Lyme, Old Lyme for Ages 10-15

“Ponding” with RTPEC instructors is always an educational and fun experience. Photo from RTPEC.

LYME-OLD LYME — What lies beneath the water? How can you find your way in the woods? Can you use cabbage to create art?

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) is offering small group, in-person programming to explore these questions and more beginning July 13 and following all current COVID-19 safety procedures. The RTPEC building on Halls Rd. will, however, remain closed.

Join in hands-on activities while discovering local biodiversity, using scientific tools, and creating beautiful natural art pieces. Morgan Allen, a RTPEC teacher-naturalist, will lead participants in outdoor, experiential field programs focusing on different daily topics in different locations.

Pond Exploration at Jewett Preserve in Lyme 
Monday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Tuesday, July 21, 3 – 5 p.m.
Join Allen in exploring what plants and animals may live in the pond using nets, solar microscopes, and more. Discover the chemical characteristics of the pond by learning how to take temperature and pH samples. Test the water quality using our Creek Critter app to identify macroinvertebrates and learn how to become a citizen scientist. Bring close-toed water shoes, a towel, and wear clothing that can get wet.

Hiking Adventures at Beckett Hill State Park in Lyme
Wednesday, July 15, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Thursday, July, 23, 3 – 5 p.m. 
Take an adventure into the woods. Learn how to use binoculars, solar scopes, and field guides to identify plants and animals. Use a soil sieve to discover what’s hiding in the soil.  Not sure which way you are traveling? Learn how to use a compass to navigate your way. Wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Art in Nature at Ferry Landing State Park in Old Lyme
Friday, July 17, 10 a.m – 12 p.m. and Saturday, July 25, 3 – 5 pm 
Release the artist within! Over these two hours, Allen will teach participants how to create a variety of natural art pieces including designing a seascape with sand and shells, clay pressings using natural materials, and making your own natural tie-dye. Wear clothing that can get messy and something to tie-dye.

To register and for more information, visit https://www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-programs-events/
Register for one, two, or three days. There is a 10-person maximum for each day.
The price is $30 RTPEC member/day, $35 non-member/day; $75 RTPEC member/three days, $90 non-member/three days.

Each child should bring a water bottle daily.

Masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be followed.

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CT Audubon Society Offers Virtual Weekly Summer Camps


LYME/OLD LYME —
The Connecticut Audubon Society’s (CAS) summer camp is going virtual this year with Connecticut Audubon Adventures: The “Not So Bummer” Summer. This unique camp alternative offers interactive, live, nature-themed explorations and activities for ages 6 through 10. The program of online and outdoor adventures, designed and run by Connecticut Audubon’s highly experienced team of summer camp directors and educators, is a great way for kids to have fun at home this summer while connecting with the natural world.

From June 15 through Aug. 21, the weekly Adventures program runs Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon. The time-tested camp programs, adapted for online and backyards, will spark curiosity and sharpen thinking skills through experimentation, exploration, art and citizen science. There will be many opportunities throughout to share findings and socialize with others.

Different themes each week keep the program fresh and appealing to many interests. Past Connecticut Audubon favorites such as Fantastic Flyers and Wacky Water Wonders are offered along with new ones like Nosy Neighbors and Digging In. For all subjects, a good balance of engaging hands-on activities, combined with investigative STEAM learning, ensure it will be the solution to a “not so bummer” summer experience that exercises minds while having fun.

The cost of Connecticut Audubon Adventures is $150 per week for CAS members and $175 for non-members, with discounted pricing for additional sibling(s) or if registering for five weeks, or all ten.

To view all the details, including descriptions of weekly topics, a program FAQ and how to register, visit www.ctaudubon.org/summer2020.

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Take a Hike on Old Lyme’s Newest Open Space, the McCulloch Family Property

OLD LYME — (taken from a press release issued by the Old Lyme Open Space Commission) The Old Lyme Open Space Commission welcomes you to the “officially open” McCulloch Family Open Space on National Trails Day, June 6.

The newest town open space property has three trails, all with well-marked entrances.

“Tree in the Gap” trail:  This trail is accessed from Whippoorwill Rd., but note the trail begins in a temporary earthen parking area.  The Commission advises walkers to be cautious entering and exiting the area, particularly after a rain, when tires may slip.  When the town receives approval, a gravel parking lot will be constructed.

Yellow trail: This trail is accessed off Whippoorwill Rd.  A parking area is adjacent to the trail.  Both the McCulloch Family Open Space and the Deborah and Edward Ames Open Space, across the road, share parking in this area. It is important to note the parking area is adjacent to private property, which the owner has graciously allowed the town to use, so the Commission urges people using the parking area to respect property boundaries.  

Red trail: A third trail begins from Flat Rock Hill Rd. Parking is permitted on the road cul-de-sac.  Again, the Commission requests that walkers should respect homeowners’ property as the trail briefly runs alongside a private driveway.

Rook’s Meadow & Jimmy’s Pond

A beautiful meadow overlooking a peaceful pond is a short walk from the “Tree in the Gap” trailhead.  A hand-hewn bench is in the meadow (with additional facilities to be added later).  The Commission suggests this is a wonderful spot for quiet contemplation, plein air painting, reading a book or just taking a relaxing lunch break.  

Jean Vasiloff, in a past interview, said, “This was really my mother’s land,” and the Open Space Commission chose to honor (Vasiloff’s mother) Rook, and her husband Warren McCulloch, with its naming. Jim Mildrum, a life-long property resident and now one of its land stewards, was similarly honored for the pond he created alongside the meadow.

Lay Preserve: The McCulloch Family Open Space is connected seamlessly with the Old Lyme Land Trust’s Lay Preserve offering an option of longer hikes.  

A map of the McCulloch Family Open Space is now available on the town website. The Commission is pleased to offer a new option for walkers and hikers in the form of downloadable maps accessible via your smartphone with a QR code found on the trail kiosks at each entrance.  Paper maps can still be printed from the website. 

Point your smartphone’s camera at the QR code and you will see a drop-down section or link to the “hiking” section within the Old Lyme Open Space website.  Access the map and open it on your device.

Since the town closed on its McCulloch property purchase last September, volunteers have devoted hundreds of hours toward this opening.

In the fall, the beautiful property was simply not ready for visitors — there were no trails. Old farm fencing criss-crossed the property and the existing conservation easement did not allow for parking.

The Open Space Commission worked with the Old Lyme Land Trust to blaze and map its new trails.  It partnered with the Connecticut Hiking Alliance to pull fencing. 

Students from Lyme-Old Lyme High School, with safe social distancing, helped to groom trails this spring.

Legal work proceeded to modify The Nature Conservancy (TNC) easement to allow construction of permanent off-road parking. 

At present, TNC and the State Attorney General have approved an easement modification, but a last legal step of judicial approval was halted when state courts closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Over this time, trail markers have been posted, kiosks and gates constructed, and signs purchased and mounted, all to make the open space experience as safe and pleasant as possible.

Warren and Rook McCulloch, with their children, moved to Old Lyme in the late 1920’s, and purchased about 450 forested acres on the cusp of the Great Depression.  

Over the years and generations, the McCulloch property served many purposes – a summer camp for city children, a working farm attracting kids who came to work and stayed, and a breeding farm for Morgan horses. 

Warren and Rook’s children, Dave McCulloch, Jean Vasiloff and Taffy Holland, so loved the property they gave The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement to “protect and preserve” the property in perpetuity.

Now it is the town of Old Lyme’s turn to safeguard this lovely land.

The Open Space Commission asks only that hikers and visitors respect the property and leave trails in the condition you find them (or better).  There are no trash bins, so take out all your waste, including that of dogs.

Per safety guidelines, maintain a social distance of six feet and, if that is not possible, wear a face covering.

The Commission notes National Trails Day is the perfect opportunity to, “Take a Hike,” and enjoy the truly special McCulloch Family Open Space.

Here at LymeLine.com, we say kudos and congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful project which will benefit the town for generations.

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Duck River Garden Club’s May Plant Sale Cancelled

Duck River Garden Club’s Annual Plant Sale for 2020 has been cancelled.

OLD LYME — Duck River Garden Club’s (DRGC) popular Plant Sale scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-9, has been cancelled.

Fay Wilkman, whose term as president ends in June, told LymeLine, “That sale has been going for over 40 years. We sell a large amount of geraniums, with a very loyal pre-order customer base. On Thursday [April 30], we decided to call those customers to tell them about the canceled sale and see if they would still like to place an order. We are planning on having them [the geraniums] available after May 20th, but details are still in the works.”

Wilkman added that all DRGC meetings for March, April, May also had to be cancelled and sadly their June Dinner too. She commented, “The dinner was supposed to take place at the Flo Gris and was to be our 50th Anniversary Celebration,” continuing, “We will be posting signs at the sale location and at our seven civic sites in town, referencing our 50th anniversary and our support of our emergency workers.”

She concluded, “We will continue to care for our seven civic sites in town,” and reflecting a sign of the times, she added, “We’re just working out schedules that will limit the number of people at each site at one time.”

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Meeting in Old Lyme to Discuss SustainabilityCT Action Plan, New Volunteers Welcome

OLD LYME — For the second year in succession, Old Lyme is applying to the SustainabilityCT program, which provides guidance and resources to towns and cities in the state to help them improve living, working and enjoying their home towns.  SustainabilityCT is now partnering with the Old Lyme Conservation Commission and today, Saturday, April 25, there will be an initial meet-up to view and understand the assignment on the lawn in front of The Chocolate Shell on Lyme Street at 1 p.m.

If you would like to join this effort, come to the meeting. Bring protective face masks, as well as your walking shoes and water, keeping in mind that there will be no toilets available, other than those at Big Y.
At a later time, people will each be walking in our chosen small group to document safety and health issues that deter comfortable walking as a means of transportation and recreation.
This will not take long, and the official audit need not be done immediately.  The aim is to choose a convenient neighborhood and form a small group for one of these areas:
  • Lyme Street
  • Rt.e 1 through Laysville
  • Town Woods Road
  • Rte. 156 from I-95 south to the beaches.
Examples and tips will help to start the process when you are available.
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Happy Earth Day! Old Lyme Open Space Co-Chair Suggests, “Go Outdoors, Reflect On Everything We Have”

OLD LYME — Fifty years ago on April 22, 1970, Denis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student and Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), joined by Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-CA), organized the first Earth Day.

“They were there with raised hands,” said Amanda Blair, Co-Chair of the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, adding sadly, “We’re here with hands in prayer.” She continued in a phone interview with LymeLine.com yesterday, “I think of all that energy back then [that went into organizing the inaugural Earth Day] and wonder what they’d think about where we are now.”

That initial celebration inspired an estimated 20 million Americans — at the time, 10 percent of the total population of the United States — to attend rallies and other events coast-to-coast.

In following years, America saw the Clean Air Act strengthened and the creation of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Asked what the message of Earth Day 2020 is for the residents of Old Lyme, Blair responded, “The virus has shut us down, but that gives people an opportunity to walk our trails and take time to reflect on everything we have … and really appreciate it.”

She said, “It’s also a reminder that ‘Every Day is Earth Day.’ We all need to do what we can to keep our planet’s environment safe, now and for our children’s future.” Blair notes that walkers and hikers can help the environment on any day — not just Earth Day — by taking a bag with them to pick up litter and she urges folk walking their dogs always to clear up after their four-legged-friends.

Blair mentioned that a third trail will be opened in the next few months on the recently-acquired McCulloch property.  She said she has been “blazing the trail” with three students from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in the past few weeks and together they, “have seen and heard so much.” Commenting that the students had been “wonderful,” she noted, “When you’re clearing a trail, you take time to stop, pause and look,” saying they had seen salamanders in vernal pools, new growth everywhere, and listened to the sound of peepers.

In celebration of Earth Day, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission encourages everyone to go outdoors and enjoy the Spring’s fresh air, flower blossoms and nature’s renewal, but Blair stresses, “Please remember to observe Governor Lamont’s executive order to wear a cloth face covering if you cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet from everyone.”

Commenting that the Commission’s planned activities for the spring and summer have all been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blair said she hoped the Hiker Happy Hours planned for the fall might yet be held.  “They are such fun and take place at the best time of the day.”

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has tips for Earth Day and every day on its website.

Great walks throughout Old Lyme may be found on the Old Lyme Open Space Commission’s website and the Old Lyme Land Trust’s website.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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:

BUDDING NATURALISTS

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

OWL PROWLS

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

WINTER WATERFOWL WALK

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

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

MURAL REVEAL

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

WHOO WANTS TO LEARN ABOUT OWLS?

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

GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT

Photo by Brian Bennett

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

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

FIELD SESSION
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

FAMILY WINTER WALK

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

HARTFORD/OLD LYME – (Press release from DPH) RESIDENTS ARE ADVISED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR CHILDREN BY AVOIDING OUTDOOR ACTIVITY FROM DUSK TO DAWN, WHEN MOSQUITOES ARE MOST ACTIVE

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

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