November 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lyme Garden Club Fall Birdseed Fundraiser Continues Through Nov. 13

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

Choices include:

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

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

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

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

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

Suet Cakes $1.50 or case of 12 @ $18

Suet/Seed Wreaths @ $20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the Society, visit their website.

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

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Update From Old Lyme Town Hall Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis

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

A message from First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Mosquito Management Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, call 860-434-1669.

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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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