September 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A volunteer gathers invasive water chestnut in her canoe.

Because it is an annual plant and some seed pods have already dropped off the plants in Selden Cove this year before being removed, water chestnut is likely to reappear in the Cove next year and continue in future years, requiring annual removal to protect the native ecosystems of Selden Cove and nearby Selden Creek from being obliterated by the highly aggressive invasive.
Friends of Whalebone Cove is a community conservation group based in Hadlyme formed three years ago to protect and preserve the native ecosystems and wildlife habitat of Hadlyme’s Whalebone Cove and the surrounding area.
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Old Lyme Closes on Land Purchase From McCulloch Family: 300 Acres Designated as Open Space, Six Acres as Affordable Housing

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

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

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

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

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

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so much more …

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

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

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

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

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

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CT Audubon Hosts Coastal Creatures Program Tomorrow Morning

Children investigate the contents of their Touch Tanks!

Photo credit: CT Audubon

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

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

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

July 17 – Register here

July 20 – Register here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Take a Hike’ Today to Celebrate CT Trails Day, FloGris Offers Afternoon Hike to Barbizon Oak

The Barbizon Oak in Old Lyme.

‘Take a Hike’ – the Old Lyme Open Space Commission’s signature slogan – will ring out across America this weekend.

June 1 and 2 are both National and Connecticut Trails Day, with over 250 hikes and outdoor activities scheduled across the state, including in Old Lyme.

The state sponsor, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA), describes the weekend as “New Year’s Eve in June” when families and people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy our “natural walking places.”

In Old Lyme, the Florence Griswold Museum is sponsoring a two-hour interpretive walk from 1 to 3 p.m. through the town’s Champlain North Open Space, which features the historic “Barbizon Oak.”  At over 16 ft. in circumference, the 300-year-old white oak is one of Connecticut’s largest and was named in honor of the Old Lyme art colony.

The walk will travel through mixed oak woods and moss-covered ledge to investigate a late season vernal pool. Participants will explore the native flora and fauna of the site and a unique colony of native mound ants. Wear appropriate shoes for walking on a dirt trail, stepping across ledge, and along the edge of wet areas. No dogs.

Local naturalist Judy Preston will lead the walk. Walk is free, but reservations suggested with Preston at (860) 395-0465 (rain or shine); meet at Picnic Table near Parking Lot at Museum.

For more information, visit the museum’s web site.

If you prefer to strike out on your own or in an informal group, Old Lyme is blessed with other beautiful trails, ranging from easy to more challenging.

Click for locations and trail maps for Old Lyme Open Space and Old Lyme Land Trust preserves.

One of the day’s goals is to introduce folks to the state and town’s trails and spur their regular use as a means of healthy exercise and a way to appreciate nature’s wonders and seasons.  So enjoy the weekend, “take a hike” and if you bring your dog, please keep it under control as a courtesy to other hikers.

And if you wish to keep hiking, join both organizations for a Hiker’s Happy Hour on June 6 at the Old Lyme Inn.

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I-Park Open to the Public Today on National Trails Day

Painters will be working ‘En Plein Air’ in I-Park on National Trails Day. Photo by Nancy Pinney.

I-Park artists-in-residence program will open its scenic campus in East Haddam to lovers of nature, art and music in observance of Connecticut Trails Day on Saturday, June 1. The grounds will be open from 2 to 6 pm, joining 250 other events in this annual statewide celebration. Rain date will be Sunday, June 2.

Normally closed to the public to ensure the privacy of its resident artists, I-Park’s campus and its 26 trails will be open for strolling, hiking and exploring. Visitors are offered the pleasure of discovering the property’s confluence of woods, fields, waterways and stone walls — as well as the abundance of site-responsive artworks that have been installed on the property since I-Park’s founding in 2001.

Landscape painters from throughout the region will be stationed around the grounds, capturing the beauty of the setting and representing the merger of art and nature that has been a hallmark of I-Park’s residency program.

The Grays, a percussion-based improvisational quartet from Chester that performs original compositions, will be playing from 2 to 4 p.m.  Guests are welcome to sit and listen to the music or even bring a picnic lunch.

Since 2002, Mie Preckler has been working on a large-scale, ongoing site intervention, “A Conversation with the Gravel Pit”. Over time she has persuaded the landscape to bend gently to her will, creating Mie’s Trail and exposing the site-specific topography of this previously barren industrial site. Mie returns to I-Park every year to maintain this work and document the subtle changes that have taken place since her last visit. She will lead a guided walk of the trail at 4:30 pm.

This is a free, family-friendly event and reservations are requested. To reserve your space, go to i-park.org.

For additional information, write events@i-park,org or call 860-873-2468.

Note that due to the fragility of the art work and trails, pets are not permitted on the I-Park grounds.

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Where Art Meets Nature: I-Park Hosts Free, Open Studios Event Today

The public is invited to visit I-Park for its first Open Studios of the 2019 season. Guests will be able to meet six of the seven resident artists on Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. I-Park is located at 428 Hopyard Rd. in East Haddam, which adjoins the Devil’s Hopyard State Park.

The facility is generally closed to visitors to give the artists undisturbed time to work on their creative endeavors. But once a month, at the conclusion of each residency, visitors are invited to meet the artists in their studios, attend the presentation segment that features select time-based works, enjoy complimentary refreshments and stroll the trails winding through I-Park’s scenic, art-filled campus.

The studios will only be open from 2 until 3:30 p.m. so guests are encouraged to arrive early so they have enough time to visit all the studios before the 3:30 p.m. presentations.

A reception with refreshments will follow.

I-­Park is an artists-in-residence program offering fully funded residencies in visual arts, creative writing, music composition/sound art, moving image and architecture/landscape design. Since its founding in 2001, I-­Park has sponsored more than 900 residencies, and has developed cross-­‐disciplinary projects of cultural significance and brought them to life in the public domain.

Set within a 450-acre nature preserve, I-­Park has a strong interest in site-responsive and environmental art – and has been the setting for exhibitions, performances, symposia and programs that facilitate artistic collaboration.

The Artists-in-Residence at I-Park.

The artists-in-residence are:

Marianne Barcellona is a painter and professional photographer from New York City. Her extensive travels provide raw inspiration for her paintings.

Hugh Livingston is a composer and sound artist from California who creates multi-media installations related to natural and built spaces; he also performs exploratory cello music. His artworks have been installed internationally.

Colette Lucas is a mixed media artist and gardening enthusiast based in New Hampshire. Her botanical motifs are created from a combination of imagination, observation and research.

Tom Nazziola, a New Jersey composer, has had his music featured on virtually every medium in the world of music. From “live film music” to choral and orchestral pieces, his compositions have been performed around the world.

Dominica Phetteplace is a prize-winning Washington (state) poet and writer whose work has appeared in Asimov’s, Zyzzyva, Copper Nickel and Ecotone as well as numerous other publications.

Allison Roberts is a lens-based artist from Oklahoma. She works primarily with photography, video and installation to address memory, place and identity as such are experienced during periods of transition.

Jane Simpson is a mixed media artist from New Hampshire. Her collage and assemblage work is comprised mainly of found paper – made either by mother nature or human ingenuity. Recently she has incorporated graphite drawings inspired by vintage photographs.

Although admission to Open Studios is free, advance reservations are requested. To reserve your space, visit i-park.org. For additional information, email events@i-park.org, call 860-873-2468 or visit i-­‐park.org.

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Potapaug Audubon Presents Talk on Bobcats Tonight in Old Lyme, All Welcome

The elusive bobcat

Potapaug Audubon presents, “The Bobcat: Connecticut’s Secretive Wild Cat,” Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme. The talk will be given by Paul Colburn, who is a 2015 graduate of the Master Wildlife Conservationist Program. He is one of the State’s most active and popular wildlife speakers. His talks on this elusive and elegant creature have drawn interested and appreciative audiences.

Colburn will provide an overview of bobcat habitat, diet, behavior, reproduction and current research efforts. Bobcat artifacts will be shown and mountain lions will also be discussed.

Members of the public are welcome at this meeting.

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Old Lyme Plans to Purchase 300 Acres of McCulloch Farm for Open Space, Two Smaller Parcels Earmarked for Affordable Housing; Total Cost $600K

The Town of Old Lyme Open Space Commission has announced an agreement to purchase approximately 300 acres of the McCulloch Farm for open space, and two smaller areas of three acres each within the 300 acres, subject to approval, for $600,000.

Immediately following the unanimous approval of authorization to sign at a special meeting of the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen on April 1, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder signed the contract on behalf of the town.

The McCulloch Farm, established in 1929, is considered one of Old Lyme’s signature properties and, as such, has been a key priority for open space acquisition.

The linkage of the McCulloch property to the town’s Ames Open Space, and to the adjacent Lay Preserve owned by the Old Lyme Land Trust, would create a large naturally significant greenway and forest, and it would greatly further a long-held goal of establishing a cross-town trail system for hiking, jogging, bicycling, bird watching and nature studies. In essence, the purchase would form an Old Lyme “Preserve” akin to that found in Old Saybrook.

The property holds particular ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River, a tributary of the Connecticut River, which is part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. A conservation easement on the property is held by The Nature Conservancy, Inc. While this easement does protect the land from development, it does not allow for public access to, and enjoyment of, the McCulloch Farm’s forest, fields and waterways.

Upon closing of the sale, the Open Space Commission hopes to quickly provide public access, and will aim towards creating an initial trail by this spring’s National Trails Day. The Old Lyme Land Trust has generously committed to overseeing trail-blazing. Eventually, the commission envisions three public trails and will explore other potential public uses, consistent with preserving the property’s natural state.

The complicated purchase has two components. The Open Space Commission would pay $500,000 for roughly 300 acres of McCulloch farm land.

The existing conservation easement allows for the possible development of two three-acre areas not pegged to any particular location within the McCulloch property. The town will pay $50,000 each for these areas, which have been appraised at $98,000 apiece. These areas would be fixed off Flat Rock Hill Rd., adjacent to affordable housing lots previously given to the town by David McCulloch.

The Open Space Commission and McCulloch family hope the two areas will be similarly developed for future affordable housing, after which the acquisition fund would be reimbursed for their sale price.

The purchase price of the McCulloch Farm property will be paid entirely from the town’s existing Open Space acquisition fund.

No budget appropriation, debt or other expense to taxpayers will be needed.

The commission will now seek the necessary final approvals. The Nature Conservancy, Inc. must approve the sale, although the town’s acquisition aligns with that organization’s goal of open space protection. The Open Space Commission will also present the purchase to the Planning Commission, with an ultimate goal of bringing the proposal to a Town Meeting in May.

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More on Earth Day from the Old Lyme Open Space Commission


Today, April 22, is the 49th Earth Day, the most widely celebrated environmental day across the globe, recognized in 192 countries.

It’s a timely, seasonal reminder that, as our lawns, trees and countryside turn green with spring growth, we ourselves can help the planet by also going “green.”

“Green” might mean: recycling; cleaning up litter, especially plastic that may end up in the ocean; or planting native flowers and shrubs to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

The Old Lyme Open Space Commission suggests celebrating Earth Day by walking the town’s open space and land trust trails, listening to the songs of birds, enjoying newly blossoming wildflowers and breathing in fresh air.

Great walks throughout Old Lyme may be found at the Commission’s web page or at on the Old Lyme Land Trust’s website

Even the sky will celebrate Earth Day!  The annual Lyrid meteor shower is active from about April 16 to 25.  While not the year’s largest meteor shower, it will be the first since January and, fittingly, visible across the globe.

For more information, visit the Earth Day website.

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Become a FrogWatch USA Citizen Scientist!

The Connecticut Audubon Society is hosting a training session for FrogWatch Citizen Scientists tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, 90 Halls Rd., in Old Lyme. This event is co-sponsored by the Mystic Aquarium.

In just 10 minutes a week, you can collect valuable information on local frog and toad populations that help to identify the scope and geographic scale of population declines.

Throughout this two-hour workshop, participants will become certified FrogWatch USA volunteers trained in local amphibian vocalizations, ready to take charge of their own field and submit data into a national survey. As important predators and prey in the environment and indicators of environmental health, the information collected can be used to form conservation plans to protect these important species.

This program is free, but registration is requested

Stay tuned for details on a field training workshop after the thaw!

Register for 2/26 here

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RiverQuest’s ‘Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise’ Offers Remarkable Insight, Views of CT River

This juvenile bald eagle flew alongside the RiverQuest during our recent afternoon cruise. Photo by Michael Pressman.

Oh, what a trip!

The RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum dock

RiverQuest hosted several members of the Fourth Estate recently on a wonderful Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise. Temperatures were distinctly chilly last Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 13), but the heated cabin stayed warm while the boat gently sailed upstream from the Connecticut River Museum.

View from on board the RiverQuest.

The views were stunning throughout the trip and, despite the frigid temperatures, the majority of the 30 or so on board stayed outside most of the time to enjoy the whole experience to the full.

Look hard and you’ll see the mast (slightly right of center) of the sunken luxury yacht in Hamburg Cove.

As we sailed north, apart from all the wildlife on the water and in the sky, we saw the mast of the luxury yacht that has sunk in Hamburg Cove and the always delightful view of Gillette Castle high atop its East Haddam perch overlooking the Connecticut River.

Gillette Castle commands a stunning of the river.

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule shared a vast amount of fascinating facts, figures, history, happenings, and anecdotes about the river and its inhabitants, ably accompanied by naturalist and crew member Cathy Malin.

Naturalist Bill Yule shared a great deal of interesting information with the passengers.

Both were on board for the duration of the trip and, while not busy disseminating information in a lively and engaging manner, they were actively spotting and identifying wildlife of all shapes and sizes on, above and alongside the river and its banks.  They also took great care to ensure the  passengers were at all times warm, comfortable … and supplied with plenty of hot coffee!

Cathy Malin kept her eyes on the prize and was rewarded with sightings of 13 bald eagles on this trip..

Although named an ‘Eagle Cruise,’ the sighting of an eagle cannot, of course, be guaranteed, but we were fortunate to see 13 bald eagles on our trip, one flying immediately alongside the RiverQuest, and also enjoyed numerous sightings of cormorants, black-backed gulls, and common merganser ducks.

An adult bald eagle spotted during our cruise keeps a close watch on everything happening on the river beneath him. Photo by Michael Pressman.

The bald-headed eagle — the national emblem of the United States of America — reaches maturity at around age four when it acquires its signature white head and maximum wingspan of approximately six feet.

All eyes — and binoculars– were on the sky … and water.

Declared an endangered species in 1973 with the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, bald eagle populations slowly began to recover following the ban on DDT, and by 2007, populations had recovered to such an extent that the species has now been removed from the endangered species list.

There were a number of professional photographers on board sporting rather larger lenses than our cell phone!

The magnificent raptors are, however, still protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Spotting eagles was the job of everyone on board.

Every winter a number of bald eagles migrate south looking for open water on which to feed as the lakes and rivers in Canada and northern New England  freeze. Many of these magnificent birds stop in Connecticut and winter along major rivers and large reservoirs, where they can also be seen feeding and sometimes nesting on the banks of the Connecticut River.

A record of all the birds seen during each trip is kept in the Connecticut River Museum.

Counts taken in 2018 indicated there were 80 pairs of nesting bald eagles in Connecticut, which produced a record 68 chicks.

The Connecticut River Museum was the start and end-point of our trip.

The Connecticut River Museum is currently hosting a “Big Birds of Winter” exhibit, which offers an excellent overview of all the birds that might be seen on the river.

This mock-up of an eagle’s nest and the raptor silhouettes are part of the Connecticut River Museum’s “Big Birds of Winter”exhibition.

Your $42 ticket not only gives you two hours on the river aboard the RiverQuest, but also admission to all the exhibits at the Museum.

Our unequivocal opinion of this wonderful trip is simply, “Take it … it deserves two big thumbs up!”

Editor’s Note: For more information on Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises, visit this link. For more information on RiverQuest and all the trips they offer, visit this link.  For more information on the Connecticut River Museum, visit this link.

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Sunken Luxury Yacht in Hamburg Cove Raised Wednesday, Whole Operation Recorded by DiNardi on Video

After extended and carefully managed efforts by Sea-Tow divers, the Mazu finally floats atop the waters of Hamburg Cove rather than under them. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

The luxury yacht, which sank in Hamburg Cove in January, was raised Wednesday (Feb. 20) by Sea Tow of Old Saybrook.

A Sea-Tow diver works to raise the Mazu from the floor of Hamburg Cove in Lyme. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

Frank DiNardi of East Haddam, who had previously filmed the yacht prior to its sinking and then after it had occurred (see our article at this link), documented the whole episode of re-floating the yacht, which was subsequently towed to a dock in Chester.

Sea-Tow divers and operatives at work alongside the Mazu. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

View DiNardi’s striking photographs on his Facebook page at this link.

11:07 a.m. UPDATE: DiNardi’s excellent video of the whole process is now available for viewing on YouTube at this link.

Prior to the re-float operation, this was the submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi and used with his permission.

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts ‘Owl Prowl’ Tonight in Old Lyme

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center hosts an Owl Prowl tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Watch Rock Park Preserve in Old Lyme.

As most birds are settling down for the night, owls are just beginning their day. With a wide array of adaptations for being active when most of us are sleeping, owls are among the most interesting species in the bird world, and there are quite a few species here in Connecticut.

Come learn about and search for these nocturnal hunters with a naturalist from the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on a night hike through Watch Rock Preserve. Bring a headlamp or flashlight (preferably one with a red light setting) and binoculars, and bundle up!

This event is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

The charge is $5 for members, $10 for non-members.  Registration is requested at this link.

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All About Alewives: Hear About Their Impact on Rogers Lake at RLA Meeting

Looking for an opportunity to learn much more about Rogers Lake?

The Lyme/Old Lyme Rogers Lake Authority will host Professor David Post of Yale University at their next monthly meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Post will give a presentation titled, “Alewives, and the Ecology and Evolution of Rogers Lake.”

Post and his associates have been undertaking studies on Rogers Lake for over 15 years.

He will discuss his team’s findings and observations along with the impact of alewives on fishing and water quality. Surprisingly, alewives impact both water quality and bass fishing in Rogers Lake.  

Alewives

The event will be held at the Rogers Lake West Shores Association
Clubhouse, 75 Rogers Lake Trail in Old Lyme.

All are welcome including Rogers Lake residents, fisherman and concerned citizens

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On Winter Solstice, Old Lyme Open Space Commission Reflects on 2018, Anticipates 2019

On Friday, Dec. 21, at 5:23 p.m. EST to be exact, it was the Winter Solstice in Connecticut — the darkest day of the year, with just over nine hours of light.  

The year of 2018 started out dark for the Old Lyme Open Space Commission. Diana Atwood Johnson, who served as chair for nearly 20 years, passed away on Jan. 1, after a long illness.

After the Solstice, however, days start to become lighter, and nature resumes its cycle of renewal as spring approaches. In January, Amanda Blair and William Dunbar became the new Open Space Commission co-chairs, and every member pitched in. 

The first order of business was to continue the care of Old Lyme Open Space property.  A land steward was hired; members personally walked trails to survey conditions; a service was hired to remove unsafe trees and branches; safety plans were discussed with the town fire marshal; new signage and trail markers were added; a new parking area for Champlain North was created; and the commission reached out to the Old Lyme Land Trust to work on mutual projects.  

Renewed educational efforts were also made.  For the first time, the Commission staffed a booth at the Midsummer Festival; news releases were issued; and the Open Space Commission web site was updated.

Early in 2019, the Commission expects to have some very exciting news! And work on substantial projects will accelerate – boxes of documents and correspondence on open space will be categorized, and conservation easements reviewed, as an antecedent to the drafting of a new Open Space Plan.

The Commission’s message remains: “Take a Hike!”  Don’t let winter keep you inside.  The trails are now in great shape for hiking, and when covered by snow, they’ll still be fun to snowshoe or cross-country ski.  

As weather warms in the New Year, volunteers will be gratefully welcomed for trail assistance.

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Lyme Land Trust Hosts Ribbon Cutting of George & Rosemary Moore Trail This Morning, Offers Guided Tours

A view of the Pleasant Valley Preserve through which the newly-identified trail passes.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m., the Lyme Land Conservation Trust will host a ribbon cutting for the opening of the George and Rosemary Moore Trail.  This event will be held at the Mount Archer Woods Parking Lot, Mount Archer Road, Lyme.

Map showing the George and Rosemary Moore Trail.

The new trail, named to honor George and Rosemary Moore’s 14 years of service towards land preservation in Lyme, uses existing trails to provide a seven-mile scenic loop in the River to Ridgetop Preserves through several properties owned and/or managed cooperatively by the Lyme Land Trust. Town of Lyme and the Nature Conservancy. Come for the ceremony only or join a walk afterwards.

There will be three tours as follows:

1. The entire seven-mile loop. Bring a picnic lunch. This could take four or more hours depending upon the speed of the group.
2. The Northern half– about four miles. This could take about three hours. Bring a lunch if you wish.
3. Mount Archer Woods – to the ruins and back — about 3.5 miles.

All tours will start and end at the Mount Archer Parking Lot. Bring a picnic lunch and water. Snacks will be provided.  Reservations are requested at openspace@townlyme.org with your choice of which walk you wish to join.

George Moore, former president of the board and the first executive director of the Lyme Land Trust, retired in 2017. Through his vision and effective management, Moore helped transform the Land Trust into one of the most active and successful trusts in the State.

Inclement weather will cancel this event.

For more information, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/ribbon-cutting-ofgeorge-and-rosemary-moore-trail-with-guided-tours/

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Take a Post-Thanksgiving Hike Today in Hartman Park

See the Turtle Rock at Hartman Park on this hike.

Walk off your Thanksgiving overindulgence on this beautiful, moderate trail that winds along craggy ridges strewn with glacial boulders. Wendolyn Hill, Lyme Land Trust Board member, and Lyme Open Space Coordinator, will lead a walk on the Red Trail in Hartman Park on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, from 1:30 to 4-ish p.m.

Meet at Hartman Park Entrance Parking Lot, Gungy Rd., in Lyme. The parking lot is on Gungy Road about 1.5 miles north of the four-way stop signs at the intersection of Beaverbrook Rd., Grassy Hill Rd., and Gungy Rd.

The route will follow a portion of the Goodwin Trail. The Goodwin Trail, overseen by the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee, is an extended trail system crossing four towns: East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and East Lyme. The entire walk is about 3.5 miles. A snack will be provided. Bring something to drink. The walk is sponsored by the Lyme land Trust and the Town of Lyme.

Rain cancels. Check lymelandtrust.org for updates.For more information, contact openspace@townlyme.org

Registration at openspace@townlyme.org would be appreciated.

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