January 28, 2022

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-Chair Explains Why ‘Ames Property’ Acquisition Efforts Ended

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-chair Evan Griswold. Photo courtesy of E. Griswold.

OLD LYME — Several readers raised questions regarding the reasons why the efforts to acquire the two parcels of ‘Ames Property’ donated to the Old Lyme Open Space Commission have concluded.

We contacted the commission and were told that its co-chair Evan Griswold was speaking on behalf of the agency.

Griswold kindly returned our phone call earlier today and explained first that terminating the effort to acquire the parcels was “personally a disappointment” to him since he had invested a great deal of time and energy on the project over the past 18 months. He added, “It’s just a shame that we weren’t able to bring all the parties together.”

He noted that the owner of the properties, Stephen Ames, had been “very patient” throughout the whole process.

Asked what the fundamental issue was that halted the acquisition, Griswold explained that the problem went back to the restrictions that were placed on the five-parcel subdivision by Ames when it was created in 2005. Those restrictions deemed that the lots, in Griswold’s words, were, “really for residential purposes only,” and moreover, “Anyone buying one of the lots would have to commence construction of a house within 18 months of purchase.”

Griswold commented that the Open Space Commission by its very nature was not planning any construction and that its intentions were to preserve the 35 acres of land, adding that the most ‘construction’ they would undertake would be some signage and trail map information.

A second issue was that the access road for all five lots was established as a private road.

Noting that all the homeowners would have to be on board in order for the restrictions to be waived to allow for a house not to be built and to give access to the two lots in question over the private road, Griswold said, “one neighbor objected.”

Two of the three remaining lots not included in the proposed land acquisition are sold and Griswold said he believes the third is currently on the market.

While stressing his disappointment with the outcome, he noted that as a “someone involved in real estate for over 40 years,” he can appreciate both sides of the situation in that there were, “privacy concerns” for the objecting homeowner. He concluded, “There must be equity for the public and landowners.”

Old Lyme Open Space Commission Announces Efforts to Acquire Two Parcels of ‘Ames Property’ Have Ended, Obstacles “Impossible to Overcome”

The acquisition of the two new ‘Ames Property’ parcels, which cannot now be completed, would have directly expanded the existing 195-acre Ames Family Open Space, which can be accessed from Evergreen Trail (via Boggy Hole Road). Photo credit: OL Open Space Commission. 

OLD LYME —  This afternoon, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission released the following statement on the proposed Ames Property purchase:

“The Old Lyme Open Space Commission deeply regrets that, despite its diligent work over the past 18 months, and the work and support of other Town boards and commissions including the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Planning Commission, its efforts to acquire two parcels of the “Ames Property” for addition to the Town’s open space lands have not been successful and have concluded. 

In the end, it proved impossible to overcome obstacles posed by the recorded documents that created the five-parcel subdivision of which the two open-space parcels were a part. 

This outcome is especially unfortunate because acquisition of the open space parcels would have been of great benefit to the Town. The acquisition would have directly expanded the existing Ames Open Space, further protected the Black Hall River watershed, provided additional refuge for endangered species, preserved forest land and its carbon sequestration potential, and moved Old Lyme closer to a town-wide hiking trail.

The possibility of new access to Ames Open Space via a well-constructed and maintained driveway with safe, off-road parking, and potential new trail access by persons with disabilities, including to the existing open space ancient Native-American caves/shelters, would have been another key benefit.

The Open Space Commission thanks the property owner, Steven Ames, for his patient consideration while the Commission pursued the acquisition.”

NOAA Announces Creation of New Protected Area on CT’s Southeast Coast, Includes Several State-Owned Coastal Properties in Lyme, Old Lyme

This map shows the location of the new National Estuarine Research Reserve in southeastern Connecticut. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

The Nature Conservancy celebrates the establishment of Connecticut’s first National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) along southeastern coast of State

LYME/OLD LYME/NEW HAVEN, CONN. – Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the establishment of a new National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) on Connecticut’s southeastern coast. The new reserve is the 30th in the national reserve system and the first in Connecticut.

“Establishing the Connecticut NERR is a critical step toward enhancing the preservation of Connecticut’s coastal and marine habitats, wildlife and heritage,” said Chantal Collier, director of marine systems conservation at The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

She added, “The Nature Conservancy is proud to have worked closely with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut, NOAA and other partners to bring this new level of protection to the Sound that will help us address the challenges facing our estuary and sustain its benefits for local communities.”

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a partnership between NOAA and coastal states. NOAA provides guidance and funding while state departments or universities work with local partners to manage the sites day-to-day. The program is designed to protect and study estuaries and their surrounding wetlands—unique ecosystems that exist in the places where rivers meet the sea.

Located along the southeastern coast of the State, the newly announced reserve spans the lower Connecticut River, the lower Thames River, most of the Connecticut waters of eastern Long Island Sound and western Fishers Island Sound, and several state-owned coastal properties in Groton, Old Lyme, and Lyme.

The boundaries of the Connecticut NERR also include traditional lands of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Mohegan Tribe, Western Nehântick Tribal Nation, Hammonasset Tribe, Wappinger Tribe, and Wangunks Tribe.

The Connecticut NERR encompasses a total of 52,160 acres and a range of ecosystems including coastal forests and grasslands, intertidal marshes, beaches and bluffs, rocky reefs, and seagrass meadows, including 36 percent of the vitally important but imperiled Long Island Sound eelgrass ecosystem.

“These coastal and marine habitats are a haven for a wide variety of plants and animals,” said Collier. “From piping plovers, horseshoe crabs and seals that rest or breed along its shores, to sea turtles, dolphins and whales that forage for food in its waters—the range of species that will benefit from this new protected area is tremendous.”

The designation of the new reserve is not the end of the process, however.

“Now, we are turning our attention to supporting effective implementation of the Connecticut NERR Management Plan that was developed by state and local partners. Successful implementation will help ensure that this reserve realizes its environmental, research, and educational potential,” Collier said.

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release from The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

RTP Estuary Center Hosts Virtual Presentation on ‘The State of the Estuary’ by CT Audubon Director, Tonight; All Welcome

CT Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins will give a virtual, interactive presentation on ‘The State of the Estuary,’ Dec. 9. All are welcome.

OLD LYME/VIRTUAL — Join the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. when it presents a virtual, interactive program titled, “The State of the Estuary,” with Patrick Comins, Executive Director of Connecticut Audubon.

Topics will include the state of birds and wildlife in the estuary, conditions in the Connecticut River watershed, advocacy efforts at the state and national level, and what all of us can do to help promote healthy habitats in our own backyards.

The program is free but registration is required. Participants will be able to submit questions via Zoom chat.

A lifelong, dedicated conservationist, Comins was Director of Bird Conservation for Connecticut prior to becoming CT Audubon’s Executive Director in 2017.  A past president of the Connecticut Ornithological Association and recipient of their Mabel Osgood Wright Award in 2001, he has written articles on bird conservation for the Connecticut Warbler and is past chair of the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Comins began his career with the CAS doing bird surveys on the coast at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and then worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a biological technician at the refuge. He is the principal author of Protecting Connecticut’s Grassland Heritage.

His talk will highlight environmental improvements we can celebrate along with ongoing concerns.

Visit www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-programs-events for more information and registration details.

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

The Center serves young people and adults across the region, offering such programs as birding basics and owl prowls, a CT River ecology course, Estuary Explorations and seasonal nature crafts, as well as summer and vacation camp programs.

Visit this link for further information:  www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-estuary-home/.

Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden Seeks Businesses/Individuals to ‘Sponsor a Row’

How it all began … Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden Board Members gathered for a photo. From left to right are Jack Larocca, Jim Ward, Peter Hunt, Amy Mastrangelo, and Sheila McTigue-Ward.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Food Share Garden (LOLFSG) has recently initiated a Sponsor a Row campaign. For a $250 donation, a Row Sponsor will have a sign designated with their name or business name posted in the garden for the growing season.

Approximately $250 is required to plant and maintain a row every year.  This includes the plants/seeds and fertilizer in addition to fencing/supports, ground cover, irrigation, tools, compost and general maintenance.

The LOLFSG invites LymeLine readers to consider being a Row Sponsor, for this year and future years, so the goal of providing fresh healthy produce to families in need can be fulfilled.

Visit this link for more information on how to become a sponsor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Mosquito Management Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The binary star Alberio. Photo by Alan Sheiness.

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

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

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

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

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

And most of all, come on out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledge Light Announces Raccoon Tests Positive for Rabies in Gales Ferry

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

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

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

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

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

Here a Bear, There a Bear …

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

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

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

Paul and Barbara Hallwood

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

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

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

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

Photo by Ron Breault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other updates, he said that:

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

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

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

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


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

Japanese Knotweed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sculptor Gil Boro in his studio in Old Lyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, the Open Space Commission project will:

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

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

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

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

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

Face masks and physical distancing required.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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