May 14, 2021

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.

 

 

Chester-Hadlyme Ferry to Open Thursday; Friends of Gillette Castle Plan Celebration at Hadlyme Landing, All Welcome

Gillette Castle can be seen in the background on a foggy morning as the 65-foot diesel-run Selden III prepares to depart the Chester ferry landing. The Chester-Hadlyme ferry, which is scheduled to re-open April 1, is one of the oldest continuously operating ferries in the United States. All photos except the final one in this article are courtesy of Kelly Hunt, Cherish the Moment Photography.

HADLYME — 3/30 UPDATE: The ‘First Ferry’ on Thursday at 7 a.m. event will be held “rain or shine.” State Representatives Palm, Haines, and Devlin are expected to join the celebrations. When the ferry lands, at approximately 7:05 a.m., there will be a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony (weather permitting.)

If you decide to visit, remember the Chester side of the ferry has extremely limited parking, so the Hadlyme side is a much better plan.

When the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry makes its inaugural 2021 round trip across the Connecticut River at 7 a.m. Thursday, April 1, its supporters intend to make the occasion festive.

“We’ve all missed the view from the river during the long winter, so we want to hold a ‘First Ferry Celebration’ to rejoice in its return and admire the state’s recent improvements to the landing area near Gillette Castle,” said Lynn Wilkinson, who chairs the communications committee for the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park.  

“Several members of our organization plan to make that morning’s first round trip together, and we imagine others might want to join us,” she added. 

The Chester-Hadlyme ferry sits at the Chester Landing dock.

John Marshall, the ferry’s master captain, said the boat will load first on the Chester side and make its five-minute run east to the Hadlyme landing adjacent to the park, where the Friends’ group will gather. 

“Free refreshments will be served, and we can promise convivial conversations with members of the Friends,” Wilkinson said. “They’ll be eager to talk about the castle, its history and our own activities.”  

“This winter was tough on everyone,” Marshall said. “Even though we still have to be careful, the ferry opening is a celebration for everybody. It’s like turning a page. People will be able to get outside more, and I look forward to it.” 

The ferry ‘under sail’ from Chester to Hadlyme.

Access to the western landing is on Rte. 148 at Ferry Rd. in Chester. The eastern landing is on park property at the base of Seventh Sister Hill, with a road and footpath leading up to the castle, the eccentric, century-old home of the late actor William Gillette. 

The park itself is in the towns of East Haddam and Lyme along the Connecticut River, and is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.

“In addition to being a continuation of scenic Rte. 148, the initiation of ferry service is an important lifeline between Chester and Hadlyme,” said John “Jack” Hine, supervisor of Gillette Castle State Park. “It also gives castle visitors a really fun and ‘photo-friendly’ way to get to the castle.” 

View of the Chester Landing with the ferry in the foreground.

The Friends’ celebration is being held free of charge. Ferry passengers will be charged current rates to ride the 65-foot diesel-run Selden III, which include a walk-on charge of $2 to pedestrians and bicyclists, $5 for vehicles on weekdays and $6 for vehicles on weekends. A $3 commuter rate requires pre-purchased coupons priced in a book of 20 for $60.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the boat will begin the season with a five-vehicle capacity, an increase since last year when the boat was allowed to carry three vehicles at a time.

“That very well may change,” Marshall said. “We’ll watch what the Centers for Disease Control and the governor say and we’ll figure out if we can change that.” Under normal conditions, the boat has a nine-vehicle capacity. 

Because the boat is a public conveyance, federal law requires all persons to wear a mask when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel on the vessel. Face shields are not compliant under current law.

Recent improvements to the eastern landing include new benches and fencing, a newly leveled parking area and a historic display describing the river and its cleanup, undertaken by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, Hine and Marshall said. 

A view of the Hadlyme-Chester ferry on the Connecticut River taken from the ramparts of Gillette Castle. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park and DEEP.

“The landing has been renovated with upgraded materials to match the esthetics of the castle,” Wilkinson said. “It was a thoughtful and wonderfully collaborative effort that has made the landing welcoming for visitors, and now seems like a special entrance to the castle grounds.” 

The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry began service in 1769 as Warner’s Ferry, and is one of the oldest continuously operating ferries in the United States. It is also Connecticut’s second-oldest ferry service, after the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, which began in 1655. 

A steam-powered barge began to serve the ferry crossing in 1879 and was named the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry in 1882 while it was operated by the town of Chester. In 1917, the Connecticut Department of Transportation took over the service, and the current boat has been in operation since 1949. 

The ferry is expected to operate through Nov. 30. Additional ferry information may be found at this link

The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group dedicated to the preservation, conservation and educational activities of the building and its grounds. For further information, visit www.gillettecastlefriends.org

 

A Chilling Adventure: Hadlyme’s Theobald Describes His Extraordinary Journey Through the Northwest Passage

The ‘Bagan’ sails into the Northwest Passage.

LYME — The Northwest Passage—the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific— is widely considered the ultimate uncharted territory. Sailing from Newport, R.I., through the infamous Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, is an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.

Sprague Theobald

Hadlyme resident Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor, has completed this extraordinary journey.

In so doing, he and his crew became only the 24th non-military craft to have navigated the Passage since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906.

Hear all about Theobald’s extraordinary journey and its harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, finally, redemption in a Zoom presentation hosted by the Friends of Lyme Library titled, The Other Side of the Ice,  tomorrow, (Saturday, March 20) at 3 p.m. Theobald himself will present the program.  

Email programreg@lymepl.org as soon as possible to register for this program and obtain the Zoom link.

Asked how he ever came up with the idea of undertaking that journey,  Theobald replied, “As far back as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a shortcut through the Arctic, but yet, nobody could find it. How could a place exist that nobody knows about but yet they go searching for it?”

Standing on the bow of the ‘Bagan’ as it sailed through the bitterly cold, unforgiving Northwest Passage.

Theobald continued, “As I grew older and started to read the incredible tragic history of those who went to search for the Passage I became absolutely intrigued. I can’t say that it was always on my mind but I spent many, many years on boats (I’ve about 40,000 off-shore miles) and the thought of attempting to transit the Passage was always in the back of my mind.”

He said triumphantly, “Finally, all the forces came together!” noting that it took about two and a half years, “… from my openly musing about the idea to finally leaving Newport,” aboard the Bagan.

In the 1850s, the Franklin Expedition left England to find the Northwest Passage. Beechy Island was one of their last known stopping areas. The expedition was frozen in the ice for two years. This grave marker cites where one of the crew was buried.

What followed was five months on the Bagan of unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845. Theobald will explain in his presentation the innumerable ways in which the incredibly challenging trip has impacted his life since he returned to land.

Asked which of those experiences had affected him the most, Theobald responded, “As you can imagine there were many experiences which truly changed my life but I think the most powerful one was the few days that we were trapped in the ice and slowly being driven ashore by a powerful underwater current.”

He continued, “Whether it was exhaustion or fatalism, I truly understood the feeling of simply letting go and making the best of it. It was simply survival. There was absolutely nothing I could do to keep us from being pushed into the rock-face cliffs. Try as I may, I couldn’t stop Mother Nature.”

As he worked to define that specific emotion in his mind, Theobald said, “The freedom of letting go allowed me to think through the process as to what I could possibly do in the various scenarios that faced us. Luckily the very force that was hinting at our demise also rescued us! The underwater current that was pushing us ashore must’ve had a back eddy in it, for once we came within a quarter of a mile from the rocks, we very slowly started going backwards in an arc.”

He concluded, “To this day, I am able to utilize that same great feeling of knowing when and ow to simply let go and to be able to stand back objectively and assess a situation rather than be caught up in it.”

Initial Planning Meeting Scheduled for Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden, All Welcome

Jim Ward tends the Community Garden at Clinton. He hopes to set up a similar venture in Old Lyme and invites other volunteers to join him at an initial planning meeting. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME — Do you believe that access to healthy food is important? Do you believe that a community should support members in need? Do you have an interest in growing food and cultivating relationships between neighbors, friends and community members?

If your answer to any or all of those questions is, ‘Yes,’ then you might wish to consider joining a discussion today to plan a community food garden to support the nutritional needs of the shoreline community by providing local food pantries with fresh produce.

During this virtual, kick-off planning meeting, Jim Ward, who conceived the idea of the community garden, explains, “We will discuss organization of a non-profit, fundraising, sustainability, outreach, education and community engagement.” There are two options timewise for the meeting, 12 noon or 6 p.m. and those wishing to attend are welcome to join either meeting.

To register for the meetings and obtain the Zoom log-in information or raise any questions, email Ward at jimdub@gmail.com​.

All are welcome and Ward stresses, “Differing viewpoints, experience, backgrounds and ages are encouraged. No gardening experience is required.”

Ward is a resident of Old Lyme since 2006 and his wife attended Old Lyme schools, then subsequently taught in the district. Asked how he came up with idea for the garden, he explained, ” While I have always been interested in gardening and landscaping, my interest in the garden was initiated while I was participating in the 2020 UCONN Master Gardening Program.’

Ward continued, “As a participant in the program you are responsible for a certain amount of outreach hours and I volunteered and continue to volunteer at the Food for All garden in Clinton.”

Noting, “The atmosphere at this very successful Food Bank garden was one of a small community,” he pointed out that there were always plenty of volunteers, who between them had, “A broad range of gardening skills, from no gardening experience to master gardeners.”

Moreover, Ward emphasized, “Everyone shared their knowledge of gardening and cooking … along with local and national political conversations.”

The catalyst for trying to start the endeavor in Old Lyme was simply, in Ward’s mind, the type of community found in Lyme-Old Lyme, which Ward felt, “Would be very supportive of this type of initiative.” He therefore set out, “to replicate the Food for All garden project.’

His plan was not only wholeheartedly supported in principle by the volunteers of the Clinton garden, but he noted that in addition, “They gave me access to their records and provided advice on the daily and annual demands of the garden.”

Finding a location for the garden in Old Lyme did not prove quite so straightforward, however. Ward said, “My wife and I researched town-owned lands defaulted to the Town, but didn’t find any that were suitable and could see why many were defaulted.”

Proposed site of the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Share Garden at Town Woods Field. Photo submitted.

Finally, the seed of an idea evolved, when, in Ward’s words, “We thought of Town Woods as it had water, electricity, parking, restrooms, proximity to the Senior Center and it served as a hub of activity for many residents.”

Asked what has happened since the potential site was identified, Ward explained, “Through generous cooperation of the Parks and Recreation Commission and with site approval by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands Commission, a parcel of land behind the Field House at Town Woods Park has been secured.”

He added enthusiastically, “The location, amidst the park’s organically-managed fields, with access to water, electricity and parking, is ideal.”

The timeline for starting the project is, according to Ward, “Totally dependent on funds.” he states, “With the generous assistance of the Parks and Recreation Commission, we have cleared the large hurdles of land and water, so the next big hurdle will be the fencing for the garden.”

What is his best guess for how things will progress? Ward responds, “With that being said I would love to see a fence up, some site prep, and soil testing by this fall with a small planting next spring.”

The proposal was mentioned at the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 16, when Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal described the project as, “A really neat thing,” and “Pretty exciting.” First Selectman Timothy Griswold felt the board needed one of their members to “Prepare a checklist of what we [the board of selectmen] need to do,” and coordinate the effort between all the town boards and commissions involved. Selectman Chris Kerr agreed to take on that role.

 

CT River Coastal Conservation Native Plant, Plug Sale Webstore Now Open; Order by April 1, Pickup April 23-24

Butterfly weed is one of the many flowering plants that will be on sale.

AREAWIDE — The CT River Coastal Conservation District has announced its webstore is now open for pre-orders before this year’s Native Plant and Plug Sale.

All pre-orders must be received by April 1, for pickup at the Chester Fairgrounds, April 23 and 24.

Ordering can either be done in the organization’s webstore, or by using the order form on their plant sale brochure, and mailing it to their office with a check (visit the Plant Sale page to download a PDF copy of the sale brochure.)

The sale will be by pre-order only, so there will be no extra plants available on the sale days.

The plan is to follow strict COVID-19 precautions of social distancing and mask-wearing during sale preparations, and to set up contactless, curbside pick-up.

Asparagus plants will also be on sale.

This year, many of the same shrubs, ground covers, edibles, evergreen trees, flowering perennials, ferns, grasses and sedges will be offered that should have been in last year’s cancelled sale.

Evergreen trees will be sold as plugs instead of bare root seedlings, and there will be a small selection of perennial plugs.

Some of the new plants on sale in 2021 include black raspberries, Pawpaw, Maple-leaf Viburnum, Nannyberry, Rhodora, Bird’s-foot Violet, Boneset, Field Pussytoes, Golden Alexander, Solomon’s Seal, Spotted Bee Balm, and Hay-scented Fern. Order early for the best selection!

Remember advance orders are due by April 1. If you have questions, contact the office at ctrivercoastal@conservect.org or 860-346-3282.

The annual plant sale is the CT River Coastal Conservation District’s main fundraising event. All proceeds are used for conservation, environmental education, and technical assistance programs.

Lyme Land Trust Announces Two New Programs for Kids

The beautiful Banningwood Preserve is where Lyme Land Trust’s new Sapling Club will meet on second Saturdays o the month.

LYME — The Lyme Land Trust will offer two monthly groups for children beginning March 13, 2021 and meeting the second Saturday of each month ( April 10, May 8, June 12).  The clubs will be directed by two volunteers, Regan Stacey and Angel Santos Burres. Both have children in the Lyme-Old Lyme school district.

Environmentalist/artist Stacey currently runs the Tree Collective, a Lyme Land Trust program for teens. Most recently, Santos Burres was the director of Outdoors Rx, a program of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

For elementary school-aged kids, the Sapling Club will provide outside play and adventure in the forest. The group will meet every second Saturday of the month from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Banningwood Preserve, Town Street, Lyme. 

Parents are welcome to stay or drop-off.

For middle-schoolers, the Hiking Club provides exploration of the natural world at a different preserve each month. It meets every second Saturday per month at 3 to 4:30 p.m., beginning March 13 at Banningwood Preserve. 

Registration required. To register for either club, contact: reganstacey@gmail.com

For more information about these and upcoming events: https://www.lymelandtrust.org

Environmental ‘Estuary’ Magazine Celebrates First Anniversary, Secures $50K Grant to Promote Greater Collaboration Among CT River Watershed Non-Profits 

OLD LYME — In its first year, Estuary, a quarterly magazine headquartered in Old Lyme, Conn., available in both print and online versions, has published over 50 in-depth stories about science (in lay-reader terms), history, personalities, wildlife and opportunities for recreation in  the Connecticut River watershed.

The magazine also reports on major environmental trends and current events in the watershed. 

This environmental start-up recently partnered with the Connecticut River Conservancy in Greenfield, Mass. to raise $50,000 in a seed grant from The Endeavor Foundation of New York City, N.Y. 

The grant was awarded to the Center for International Management Education (CIME), a 501(c)3 based in Old Lyme, which was founded in 1990 by Barbara and Dick Shriver to, “Promote democracy and free enterprise inside the Soviet Union.”  

The CIME non-profit is the parent of Old Lyme’s Mentoring Corps for Community Development (MCCD).  Dick Shriver is the president of CIME.

Dick Shriver, Publisher of ‘Estuary’ magazine and president of Center for International Management Education (CIME).

The intent of the $50,000 grant is to develop the rationale, and lay the groundwork for, a ‘Connecticut River  Watershed Ecological Restoration and Stewardship Collaborative,’ says Dick Shriver, the publisher of Estuary.

In addition to CIME and the Connecticut River Conservancy, the concept-development team also includes Audubon Vermont in Huntington, Vt.

Asked whether the grant would deal with any specific restoration efforts, Dick Shriver explained that was not the case, but rather, “The grant intends to demonstrate that greater collaboration between all of the governmental and non-profit efforts in the watershed — plus greater promulgation of what’s working — will improve the collective result [of their efforts.]

That result in turn, Shriver added, will hopefully, “… warrant a large multi-year Master Grant to institutionalize such collaboration and promulgation.”

The concept team is developing the case to attract a group of foundation and government funders to invest $25-$50 million in the watershed over a period of 10 years.

The collaborative is expected to operate as a pass-through grant with a bare-bones organization that evaluates proposals and distributes funds to restoration and stewardship projects, which maximize the future well-being of the Connecticut River watershed.  

The watershed in this instance, Shriver noted, refers to, “The entire river, all tributaries, and the land that extends to the divide between neighboring watersheds such as the Housatonic, Hudson or Thames.”

Shriver commented, “We are extremely gratified by this contribution by The Endeavor Foundation to a brighter future for the 2 million people and incredible natural resources and wildlife of the watershed.”

Estuary’s delivery months for its print version are March, June, September and December; back  issues and a blog are accessible online on its website at estuarymagazine.com.  

For additional information about the seed grant, contact the project coordinator, Dr. Andrew  Fisk, Executive Director, Connecticut River Conservancy, at afisk@ctriver.org

For subscription information for Estuary magazine, visit estuarymagazine.com or contact Kyle Hudson, Director of Subscriptions at kyle@estuarymagazine.com.

Old Lyme Harbor Commission Now Accepting 2021 Mooring Applications

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Harbor Commission is now accepting applications for 2021 moorings in Town waters.

Beginning in May, the Harbor Master will commence routine checks of the mooring fields of the Local Waters. Boaters are reminded that moorings without valid permits and/or those that do not comply with the Old Lyme Harbor Ordinance standards for placement or identification may be removed from service without notice, and the associated removal and storage costs will be the owner’s responsibility.

The cost is $25 for the permit, and Proof of Tackle Compliance provided by a qualified Inspector is required.

Additional information and forms are available at https://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/harbormaster-harbor-management-commission

Any questions regarding the process can be sent via e-mail to Tom Meyer  at meyertom@comcast.net.

Photographer Leads Walk Through Thach Preserve in Lyme, Feb 27; Join to Experience Changing Light

Light over Lyme. Photo by Joe Standart.

LYME — 2/20 UPDATE: This walk has been postponed from Feb. 20 to Feb. 27. The walk is full — send an email to be put on the waiting list. Join a walk through the Thach Preserve, guided by photographer Joe Standart this Saturday, Feb. 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. to experience light before and after the sun sets.

Reservations are required. To register, email education@lymelandtrust.org

Space is limited to 10 people including the leaders. Be safe- wear a mask when meeting in the parking lot. Social distancing guidelines will be followed.

The walk is part of the Lyme Land Trust amateur photography program: Imagining Lyme – A Visual Exploration of Lyme’s Preserves, which encourages people to expand their visual awareness while highlighting the beauty of Lyme Preserves through photographs. For more information, visit ImaginingLyme.org.

The deadline for submission of photos for the fall/winter season using the category “Light” is March 19, 2021. Three photos of distinction will be chosen.

The Thach Preserve is located at 131 Brush Hill Rd., Lyme CT.

 

‘Pollinator Pathway’ Chapter Started in Lyme


LYME —
A new chapter of this national effort has been established in Lyme. The Lyme Land Trust and the Lyme Public Library have joined with other Lyme organizations and individuals to work together and establish patches of pollinator plants and pathways between them.

Do you already have a patch (big or small) to add to the pathway? Or do you want to create one?

A kick-off event will be held Thursday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. titled, Exploring the Importance of Pollinator Pathways.

Learn about Pollinator Pathways in this Zoom presentation with eco-friendly gardening experts Jim Sirch and Mary Ellen Lemay. Pollinator pathways are corridors of pesticide-free native plants that nourish bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which are vital for the health of the planet.

Pollinator pathways are pesticide-free corridors of native plants that provide nutrition and habitat for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which are vital for the health of the planet. These pathways are crucial to biodiversity, the production of healthy crops, and the health of ecosystems that wild animals rely on for food and habitat.
Most native plants require less watering and upkeep than ornamentals and the pollinators you attract will help your other garden plants and vegetables flourish as well.
Watching butterflies fluttering carelessly through our yards, drifting from here to there on a gentle breeze, occasionally stopping to display their colorful murals relieves stress. Why not create an area for them to thrive?
Many Lyme residents have part of their yards that are mostly unused or a patch of grass they are constantly maintaining and can never get just right.
Join this effort to learn about the benefits of pollinator pathways and how you can create your own.

Jim Sirch is Education Coordinator for the Yale Peabody Museum for Natural History. Mary Ellen LeMay owns a company that specializes in the use of natural systems for habitat restoration.

This presentation is free and open to all, brought to you by the Friends of the Lyme Public Library. To register for this program, email  programreg@lymepl.org. You will receive a Zoom link several days before the presentation.

For more information, call the library at 860-434-2272, follow the Lyme Pollinator Pathway Facebook page or email LymePollinator@gmail.com.