September 22, 2014

Old Lyme Land Trust to Host Kayak Regatta Today on Black Hall River

A kayak regatta is planned for Sept. 21 in Old Lyme.

A kayak regatta is planned for Sept. 21 in Old Lyme.

Old Lyme Land Trust in conjunction with the Black Hall Outfitters is sponsoring a Kayak Regatta and Tour Sunday,  Sept 21, beginning around 11 a.m. at the Black Hall Marina.

People can come with their own kayak or rent at the Black Hall Marina on Rte. 156.  There will be a tour led by Barry Gorfain ,an experienced and certified kayak instructor, who will explore Griswold Point and the Roger Tory Peterson sanctuary.  People may also explore the protected and beautiful Black Hall River.

The event is appropriate for kayakers of all ages and experience levels.

Refreshments will be provided and a small donation of $10 perkayaker or $25 per family is requested to benefit the land trust.

Advance notice of your participation is appreciated but not required.  Call 860-434-6294 or emailfentonland@sbcglobal.net to respond or if you need more information.

Visit www.blackhalloutfitters.com for more information.

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Geocaching 101: Land Trusts Offer Field Class Today On Outdoor Treasure Hunt Game

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The Lyme Land Conservation Trust and the East Haddam Land Trust have scheduled a field class on Saturday, Sept. 20 for anyone interested in learning how to participate in the outdoor game of geocaching, a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices.

Geocaching is a relatively new game in which participants hide “treasures” (caches) in various outdoor locations (often in parks, preserves, public forests, etc.) and then leave clues on the Internet on how others can find them using a smart phone or other GPS devices. Participants seeking out the caches navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a treasure-filled container hidden at that location.

After finding a cache, a participant may take a treasure as long as it’s replaced with another small “treasure”, or as geocachers say, “Take some stuff, leave some stuff.”  (Treasures are usually small items of little value, such as beads, buttons, small items of plastic jewelry, and the like).

The two land trusts will supply the treasures for this event and instruction by active geocachers led by Jim Lockhart, a geocaching enthusiast.

Participants must bring a GPS-enabled device or smart phone.  More information and a free app needed to participate can be found at: http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/geocaching-101/

Meet at 10 a.m. in the parking lot for Mount Archer Woods Preserve, Mount Archer Road, Lyme. (On the left one mile from Rt. 156. To locate using GPS coordinates, copy and paste the following log/lat into Bing Maps, Google Maps, or MapQuest search box: 41.409354, -72.353012 ).

This outdoor treasure hunt is anticipated to last approximately two hours.

More information on geocaching can be found at: www.geocaching.com

Register by sending an email containing your name and the number in your party to:  rsvp@lymelandtrust.org . Put “Geocaching” in the subject line.

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Old Lyme Land Trust Hosts Popular Swallow Cruise, Sept. 27

The famous, "Swallow Tide," above the Connecticut River, photographed by Atwood Johnson.

The famous, “Swallow Tide,” above the Connecticut River, photographed by Diana Atwood Johnson.

SOLD OUT! Join the Old Lyme Land Trust for an incredible natural spectacle on the Connecticut River.  In the late afternoon during the fall migration, hundreds of thousands of tree swallows gather on the river from 30 miles around and create beautiful sweeping formations in the sky.  Just as the sun sets, they converge into a huge funnel over Goose Island and disappear into the reeds to roost for the night.

Old Lyme Land Trust will host a cruise on the Connecticut River to view the swallows in action on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 5 to 8 p.m.  Tickets are $40 each.  Wine, beer, and soft drinks will be provided.  Guests are welcome to bring a picnic supper.

Contact Ted Mundy (860-434-5674) for more information or to purchase tickets.

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50 acres added to Whalebone Cove Division of Conte Refuge

A fall view of the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

A fall view of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Nearly 50 acres in Lyme, Conn., will become part of the Whalebone Cove Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, thanks to collaboration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. The conserved parcel almost doubles the total acreage of the division, bringing it up to 116 acres.

The Nature Conservancy originally purchased this property in 1999 as an addition to its Whalebone Cove Preserve. The Conservancy transferred the property to the Service, who acquired the parcel through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which for 50 years, has provided money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands.

“Nations are defined by the natural and cultural heritage they choose to preserve, which is why the Land and Water Conservation Fund is such a vital conservation tool,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “It’s fitting that as we mark the 50th anniversary of this conservation milestone, we do so by protecting important habitat at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and across the nation for current and future generations of Americans to enjoy.”

Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed that stretches across four states. It is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed.

Transfer of this property follows the successful partnership between the Conservancy and the Service in August of last year, when 26 acres were acquired from a private landowner.  The Service also acquired the 26-acre parcel through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Together with 40 acres donated last summer from the Conservancy, those properties established the new Whalebone Cove Division of the refuge.

“The Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Conservancy share the same goals for Whalebone Cove: protecting the area’s ecological integrity and the habitats and species embedded within it,” said Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies specialist for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “Our colleagues at the Refuge have repeatedly demonstrated their conservation expertise up and down the Connecticut River, and we’re extremely happy to add Whalebone Cove to the record of successful conservation collaboration between the Refuge and The Nature Conservancy.”

The Whalebone Cove Division protects freshwater tidal marshes at the head of the Connecticut River, as well as other habitats including mature forest, floodplain forest and upland meadows. Whalebone Cove offers biologically significant feeding ground for migratory waterfowl, and serves as wintering area for bald eagles and black ducks.

September 3 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the LWCF. Lands purchased through the fund are used to provide recreational opportunities, protect clean water, preserve wildlife habitat, enhance scenic vistas, protect archaeological and historical sites and maintain the nature of wilderness areas.

The Service and The Nature Conservancy are meeting with residents to discuss the refuge with nearby communities. The Service anticipates the formation of a Friends group to support and promote the mission of the new addition to the refuge.

“These investments contribute toward the refuge purpose established by Congress and enrich our quality of life by expanding conservation, education and recreation opportunities for the public. The permanent protection of this property was possible because of the Service’s long standing partnership with The Nature Conservancy and support from the Congressional delegation, the Administration, and the public,” said Andrew French, project leader at the Conte Refuge.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web atwww.nature.org/connecticut

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 

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Lyme Horse Trials at Lord Creek Farm Today, Offers Opportunity to Join Newly-Formed Lyme Trail Association

Shannon Palumbo rides "Just Chance" at a previous year's Lyme Horse Trials.

Shannon Palumbo rides “Just Chance” at a previous year’s Lyme Horse Trials.

The public is invited to come to beautiful Lord Creek Farm in Lyme, Conn., today, Aug. 17, and watch close to 100 local riders of all ages compete in the equestrian competition known as Eventing. One of the fastest growing equestrian pursuits, it is the ultimate challenge for horse and rider, testing their partnership and athletic prowess in three disciplines: the grace and harmony of dressage; the rigors and thrills of cross-country jumping over natural obstacles; and the power and pageantry of show jumping.

Founded by Lord Creek Farm owner, Janie Davison, 14 years ago, the Lyme Horse Trials offer both an opportunity for beginner and intermediate riders to compete, and to support High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. and the Connecticut Valley Pony Club, and the Lyme Trail Association, three locally based nonprofit organizations, who share the proceeds.

A new component to the horse trials this year is the formation of the Lyme Trail Association, which is a 501(c)3 membership association that allows anyone who joins to hike or ride on Lord Creek Farm.

This is an opportunity for the public to watch an exciting competition 
from key vantage points at a private estate along a course that winds through woods and fields with spectacular views of the Connecticut River. Food will be available from local vendors or bring a picnic. It’s sure to be a fun family day. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event, visit www.lymehorsetrials.com.

Lyme Horse Trials is organized entirely by volunteers and is generously supported by local business partners, including Northstar Wealth Partners, Reynolds Garage & Marine, BA Brooks Associates, SeaSide Wine & Spirits, Drs. McAraw, Cantner, Cantner, Foise and Barasz,and Essex Savings Bank. Proceeds from the Trials will benefit High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc., Connecticut Valley Pony Club and the Lyme Trail Association.

The mission of High Hopes is to improve the lives of people with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities, while serving the therapeutic riding profession through training and education.

The Connecticut Valley Pony Club is a volunteer organization that fosters the development of thoughtful, responsible and knowledgeable young riders in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. Connecticut Valley Pony Club is a member of the United States Pony Clubs. To learn more, visit cvponyclub.wordpress.com

The Lyme Trail Association is a non-profit membership association 
dedicated to the maintenance, stewardship and enjoyment of trails in Lyme and the surrounding area. It supports a community of horseback riders and non-riders who appreciate the rural character of Southeastern Connecticut and understand the importance of preserving the area’s rustic nature.

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Mild 2.7 Earthquake Early Thursday Centered in Deep River

A mild earthquake early Thursday that registered at 2.7 on the Richter Scale was centered in Deep River, Conn. The earthquake, which was confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey, occurred around 3:09 a.m. and caused no reports of damage.

State police and dispatchers at the Troop F Barracks in Westbrook reported receiving numerous calls immediately after the quake from residents reporting an explosion and or shaking of the ground around their homes.

The quake was also felt in Chester, and as far away as Middletown, Durham, and East Hampton on the east side of the Connecticut River.  The quake occurred between two to three miles underground.  A similar mild earthquake that was centered around Chester occurred in March 2008 with no damage reported

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A Closer Look at the Sound View Bike Path, Revitalization Project

Proposed route of new bike path.

Proposed route of new bike path.

In a recent interview with LymeLine, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stated, “The Old Lyme town government has been attempting to pursue renovations of the Sound View beach since May of 2013.”   The desired outcome of the renovations will be a bike path that leads from exit 70 on the Baldwin Bridge following I-95, down Rte. 156 to Hartford Avenue.

This will lead bikers to what will be the new parking lot.  The community lot on Hartford Avenue, across from Sound View beach, will be redeveloped into a picnic area.  The lot will maintain 44 parking spaces, and the rest will be transformed into grassy regions for a more park-like feel.  The town was awarded a grant to revitalize the area, with instructions for the money to be put into specific stages.

The federal grant covers up to 80 percent of the project, and the town is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.  The amount of $148,500 has already been approved by the grant, but the construction costs will be determined after the design phase is complete.

The first stage is for engineers to “complete the ‘picture’ of the final product,” noted Reemsnyder.  They will draw up designs for the park area.  These documents will then go to contractors, who will decide on the cost of the project.  The bike path will need to be mapped and signed off as well.  Once all of the designs for the park and path are finalized and approved, the second stage of the project can begin.

The second stage is construction, which is projected to start in the fall of 2015.  Town meetings will be held at various points throughout the project, such as the one on Wednesday,July 16, which “went well” according to Reemsnyder.  Before construction can begin, the allocation for construction cost funds will need to be approved at one of these town meetings.

The revitalization is hoped to enhance tourism, improve business, and connect the beach to the rest of the town in a more accessible and friendly manner.

On the town website, under current projects, there is a link to more information regarding the proposal.

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Miller’s Eagle Scout Project Restores Hamburg Fair’s Animal Ring to Former Glory

Working on the animal ring.

Working on the animal ring.

Visitors at this year’s Hamburg Fair on Aug. 15, 16 and 17, will see that the animal ring where the horse and oxen competitions are held has been refurbished.

Life Scout Matthew M. Miller of BSA Troop 26 of Lyme and Old Lyme led approximately 25 people over the weekend of June 14-15 as part of his Eagle Scout Project to repair the ring that was in desperate need of restoration.  The project benefited the Lyme Grange Fairgrounds where the annual Hamburg Fair is held every August.  The Fair draws several thousand visitors from all over the state each year.

Repairing the fence.

Matt Miller repairs the animal ring fence during Father’s Day weekend when he led a team of volunteers on the project, which will contribute to his Eagle Scout award.

Matt developed his project by meeting with the Lyme Grange and then submitting his plan for approval with BSA Mohegan District.

It Takes a Village - in this case, three young men, but there were many more on both days of the project - to fix an animal ring.

‘It Takes a Village’ – in this case, three young men, but there were many more on both days of the project – to fix an animal ring.

Everything came together over Father’s Day weekend under beautiful skies and clear weather.  His team replaced four gates, installed new gate latches, replaced the vast majority of wooden rails, replaced or repaired posts and gave the whole area two coats of barn red stain.

Congratulations, Matt – what a great project!

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40th Annual Connecticut River Raft Race Takes Place Today

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During the winter of 1974 a group of shoreline friends met up one evening to discuss the idea of starting a new local event, to be run in the summertime and ultimately benefit local charities. With this shared philosophy, the Connecticut River Raft Race was conceived. The first race course started at the Deep River Landing and finished on Knott’s Island off of Essex. The raft race has changed locations four times in the past 40 years.

The 40th annual Connecticut River Raft Race will take place on Aug. 2, in Portland, Conn. The race will commence with a cannon blast at 10 a.m. from Gildersleeve Island in Portland and finishes four and a half miles downriver at the Portland Boatyard. The Raft Race weekend starts on Aug. 1 with a cook-off and camping at the Portland Boatyard.

Over the years, new categories have been added to the event. Kayaks and canoes are welcome and will be competing in their own category. This event is not limited to people local to the Portland area. Last year racers from Coventry, Bozrah, Newington, Waterbury, Portland, East Hampton, Windsor, East Haven, New Haven, New Britain, Stratford, Rocky Hill, Middletown and Deep River, all towns in Connecticut, participated as well as one raft from Chestertown, Md.

Sightseers are welcome. This event can be viewed from River Park in Middletown, Cromwell landing and the Portland Boatyard. Pack the car with your grill and goodies and join the fun at the end of the race. Enjoy the camaraderie of the day including live music. Proceeds from this event are donated to local charities.

For further informatio, contact Dan Otto Pritchard at dan-pritchardglbal.net, for mailing list information or Dave Malboef at crazydave757@hotmail.com or visit www.ctriverraftrace.org.

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Story from ‘The Day': Old Lyme Votes to Accept Donated Land for Recreation

A land parcel off Halls Road with access to the Lieutenant River will soon belong to the town for public recreational use.

Residents voted at a special town meeting Tuesday to accept the donated land, about a half-acre in size, from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Read the full story in an article by Kimberly Drelich published July 30 on TheDay.com

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Saybrook Point Inn Donates $25,000 to The Preserve

The terrace at the Saybrook Point Inn.

The terrace at the Saybrook Point Inn.

The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, through the Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Family Foundation, has donated $25,000 to “The Preserve,” a swath of 1,000 acres of coastal forest along the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, Connecticut.  As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston, this land is rich in natural resources, wildlife and habitat that not only offers residents with outdoor recreational opportunities, but also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters during natural disasters.

Residents of Connecticut treasure this 1,000-acre coastal forest as a place to connect with nature close to home. Known locally as The Preserve, the woodland plays an important role in maintaining water quality in Trout Brook and the Oyster and Mud rivers, which feed into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.  The partnership to preserve and protect this natural ecosystem in Connecticut consists of the State of Connecticut, neighboring towns (Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook), and The Trust for Public Land.

“On behalf of my family, we are proud to be able to preserve and protect one of Connecticut’s most sacred ecosystems for generations to come,” said Stephen Tagliatela, Innkeeper/Managing Partner, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa.  “It’s always been a founding principle of our family to care and maintain the environment we live in.  It’s through our efforts, in cooperation with the Trust for Public Land, Town of Old Saybrook, and Essex Land Trust, that we will conserve this important coastal forest to forever as a natural asset for our region and our state.”

On Tuesday, July 8, voters in Old Saybrook overwhelmingly approved the purchase of “The Preserve,” which will now be protected in perpetuity as open space for Connecticut residents for generations to come. As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston, this 1,000-acre ecosystem will be permanently protected from future development. It will connect to 500 acres of existing town parkland providing expanded opportunities for hiking and viewing a variety of birds and other wildlife.

“We are very grateful that the Tagliatela family has made this very generous gift to support the Campaign to Protect the 1,000 Acre Forest,” said Kate Brown, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land.  “This is a wonderful boost that will help us move closer to the fundraising goal and permanent protection of the land.”

The Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Foundation was established in 1997 by North Haven business leader Louis F. Tagliatela. Over the years, the Foundation has donated more than $9 million to support local non-profit organizations including hospitals, schools and churches. In addition, the organization helped establish the Tagliatela School of Engineering at the University of New Haven and the Tagliatela School of Business at Albertus Magnus College.

The Preserve is a 1,000-acre coastal forest located in Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, Connecticut.  It is the largest unprotected coastal forest remaining between New York City and Boston.  The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles.  Bobcats and fisher cats have also been spotted on the property.  The land includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, headwaters of the Oyster River, and tributaries of the Mud and Trout Brook Rivers.  These rivers eventually flow into Long Island Sound.

The property has a 15-year history of development proposals, foreclosure, and lawsuits by neighbors and conservationists opposing its development.  The land is currently owned by Lehman Brothers Holdings, the holding company that emerged from the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.  The holding company has agreed to sell the property to The Trust for Public Land for its fair market value of $8.09 million.  If protected, this highly unusual intact coastal forest will be preserved and the public will have passive recreational access to the property via trails.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environ-mental Protection, the Towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Essex Land Trust, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, and others to raise the funding necessary to protect The Preserve.  The goal of the fundraising effort is to raise $10 million to cover the purchase price, costs and stewardship. A further $3 million is expected to be raised via a private fundraising campaign, to supplement $7 million in public funding.

Since it opened 25 years ago, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa has adapted and changed. It has taken a decidedly green direction, winning numerous awards for its often best-in-class green practices, including the first Connecticut inn to be named a Certified Energy Hotel in 2007.

The Inn now features SANNO, a full service European spa, as well as Fresh Salt, a restaurant designed by Peter Niemitz that opened to strong reviews in 2011.  The property employs more than 260 hospitality professionals in the town of Old Saybrook, Conn., and is among the town’s top employers and economic engines.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa recently opened its new Three Stories guesthouse adjacent to the main Inn. This completely renovated Italianate home overlooking Long Island Sound was originally built in 1892 as a single-family home for the prominent engineer William Vars.  The property has been fully refurbished and revitalized as a seven-room guesthouse with wrap around porches and private gardens.

As a testament to its rich history, each room at Three Stories tells the story of a famed local resident who made sure that the history of the community was well preserved.  This includes Katharine Hepburn’s mother, who was a co-founder of Planned Parenthood and leading suffragette, and Anna Louise James, who had the distinction of being one of the first African-American female pharmacists in America and ran the James Pharmacy locally.

Situated along the picturesque coastal community of historic Old Saybrook, Conn. in the hamlet of Saybrook Point, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa features 82 elegantly appointed guestrooms, a rejuvenating full-service spa called SANNO, and a casual fine dining restaurant named Fresh Salt.

Fresh Salt diners savor fresh, seasonal and local cuisine served in Old Saybrook’s most spectacular setting – the spot where the fresh waters of the Connecticut River meet the salt of Long Island Sound.

The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa also features the historic Saybrook Point Marina, a landmark yachting dock conveniently located at the mouth of the Connecticut River with easy access to Long Island Sound.  It can accommodate vessels from 12 to 200 feet and has received numerous premier Connecticut marina awards.  More information is available at www.saybrook.com.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people.  Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation.  Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.

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Essex Town Meeting Gives Unanimous Approval for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday gave unanimous approval for a $200,000 appropriation as the town’s contribution for purchase of the 70-acre portion of the Preserve property in Essex. More than 100 residents turned out for the meeting in the town hall auditorium, with a round of applause following approval of the funding on a voice vote without discussion.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from an open space acquisition sinking fund available in the current town budget. The town meeting vote ends years of debate about the wooded property that includes the Essex acreage off Ingham Hill Road that had been the subject of a subdivision application in 2011.

Paul Greenberg with the Essex Land Trust, said the non-profit group is expected to at least match the town contribution for purchase of the portion of the property in Essex. Greenberg said the Trust has applied for a state grant of up to $350,000 that is awarded in October. He said the Trust would also use private fundraising for the purchase.

Old Saybrook voters in a July 8 referendum approved $3 million in bonding for purchase of the much larger 930-acre section of the property in their town. State bond funds will also be used for the total $8 million purchase, which is being coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land. The purchase of the total 1,000-acre property for preservation as public open space is expected to close by the end of the year.

Greenberg said the Essex section of the property would be owned by the Essex Land Trust, while the larger Old Saybrook portion would be co-owned by that town and the state. Greenberg said access to the property from Essex would be off Ingham Hill Road, with trails in to the property to be improved for greater public access next year.

Selectman Bruce Glowac, who lives on Ingham Hill Road, spoke for the crowd when he expressed appreciation for the public acquisition of the total property. “We look forward to having 1,000 acres in the town next to us and in our town,” he said.

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Old Saybrook Voters Give Overwhelming Approval for $3 Million in Bonding for Preserve Land Purchase

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School. (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School. (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Voters Tuesday gave overwhelming approval for $3 million in bonding for the town’s share of a planned $8 million purchase of the Preserve property, described as the “1,000 acre forest.” The bonding for the 930 acres located in Old Saybrook was approved on a 2,002 – 242 vote in an eight-hour referendum.

About 20 percent of the town’s 7,361 registered voters turned out for the referendum, with 115 property owners who are not registered voters in Old Saybrook also casting ballots. The bonding approval is the key element in a combination of funding sources that is expected to lead to a closing on the property by the end of the year.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna said he was not surprised by the huge margin of support. “This has been a generational issue in this town and it’s finally being put to bed,” Fortuna said, adding that he was aware of no organized opposition to the bonding authorization while, “There was certainly organized support.”

The parcel, which includes 70 acres in Essex and four acres in Westbrook, is located off Bokum Road and Ingham Hill Road in Old Saybrook and Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The property had been the subject of development proposals dating back to 1999 that once called for over 200 homes and a golf course. It is currently owned by River Sound Development/Lehman Brothers, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers setting the stage for negotiations that led to a purchase plan earlier this year. The purchase negotiations were coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land.

Along with the Old Saybrook contribution, the plan calls for about $3.3 million in state funding and about $1.9 million from the Trust For Public Land. Essex voters will be asked at a July 16 town meeting to approve a $200,000 town funding contribution, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust also contributing through private fund raising. The Essex town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at town hall.

Fortuna said the acreage in Old Saybrook would be co-owned by the town and the state. The Essex Land Conservation Trust will own the section of the property in Essex. Fortuna said trails through the vast property should be improved and ready for public use by the summer of 2015.

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station. (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

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Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote by Old Saybrook to Grant $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “Yes” vote at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal with State Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg at the July 7 rally for a “Yes” vote.

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

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Help Your Rivers Celebrate Their Independence—From Trash

trash_on_CT_RiverThe Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) encourages you to do two things while you’re out celebrating this weekend: recycle and scout trash.

By recycling what you can and keeping an eye out for trash while you are outdoors, you can help keep trash out of our rivers. You can report litter sites in need of clean-up volunteers to CRWC on their website at www.ctriver.org/source-to-sea-cleanup and click on ‘Report Trash Site’ or call their office at 860-704-0057. CRWC will direct volunteers to those sites during their 18th annual Source to Sea Cleanup on September 26 and 27. “If you see a trash site, note the location and what kind of debris is there, take a picture if you can, and then let us know,” says Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC River Steward and organizer of the Cleanup.

The annual Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day trash clean-up event coordinated by CRWC in all four states of the 410+ mile Connecticut River watershed (NH, VT, MA, CT), home to more than 2.5 million people. “Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have worked hard to combat litter and illegally dumped trash,” notes Talbot. “It’s a big watershed and we rely on people to let us know about the problem spots. You are one of our best sources of information.”

Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities head out to clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams and stream banks, parks, boat launches, trails and more. Individuals can register now to start a clean-up group, register to work solo or join an existing group by visiting www.ctriver.org/source-to-sea-cleanup. Businesses are also encouraged to get involved by starting an employee clean-up group, making a donation of supplies such as gloves and trash bags, or by becoming an event sponsor.

In 2013, more than 2,200 volunteers pulled over 45 tons of trash from river banks and waterways in NH, VT, MA and CT. Volunteers use human power and sometimes heavy equipment to pull out everything from recyclables, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions, refrigerators and junk cars. To date volunteers have prevented more than 851 tons of trash from flowing downstream.

“Lead sponsors NRG Middletown and TransCanada’s generous financial support enables us to organize the thousands of volunteers who participate in the Cleanup, and to take on complex projects that require the use of heavy equipment, scuba divers and other professionals to get those really trashed places cleaned up,” says CRWC Executive Director Andrew Fisk.

Anyone with questions or trash tips may contact CRWC’s Cleanup Coordinator Jacqueline Talbot at cleanup@ctriver.org or by calling 860-704-0057.

The Connecticut River Watershed Council works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, we celebrate our four-state treasure and collaborate, educate, organize, restore and intervene to preserve its health for generations to come. Our work informs our vision of economic and ecological abundance.

To learn more about CRWC, or to make a contribution to help protect the Connecticut River, visit www.ctriver.org or call 413-772-2020, ext. 201.

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Extension of Connecticut River Paddleway Celebrated at Gillette Castle in Lyme

canoes&river

The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC), along with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Vermont River Conservancy, launched the extension of the Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail into Massachusetts and Connecticut at Lyme’s Gillette Castle State Park last Saturday, June 21.

The Council, along with project leaders from the other two organizations, unveiled the plan for the expanded trail, which currently just serves Vermont and New Hampshire.

“We’re excited to be a part of a collaborative effort to enhance this resource for those who paddle our great river,” said Andrew Fisk, CRWC Executive Director.  “This trail is an investment for those who are enthusiastic about being out on the water, and the 410-mile journey from the river’s source to the sea is one of New England’s iconic adventures.”

The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail is managed by a collaborative of organizations working together on trail planning and development, building and stewarding primitive campsites, improving access points and portage trails, and disseminating information to visitors.

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Steve Grant, a Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, spoke at the Celebration.  Jim Dina, an intrepid explorer and author of The Voyage of the Ant, was also a featured guest. The two guests have deep connections with the river.  Grant has worked as an outdoor and environmental reporter for the Hartford Courant for over 29 years and wrote a 17-part chronicle of his journey from the headwaters of the Connecticut River down to the Sound.  Dina’s work, The Voyage of the Ant, relays his experience paddling up the Connecticut River in his birchbark canoe, made using Native American tools and techniques.

The Celebration also included the presentation of the Bud Foster Award and lunch on site at the state park.

Many of those present launched their canoes and kayaks at the ferry landing and paddled down to Selden Island State Park on the Lyme shore of the Conn River.

For more about the Paddlers’ Trail, visit www.ConnecticutRiverPaddlersTrail.org.

The CRWC works to protect the watershed from source to sea.  As stewards of this heritage, it celebrates the River as a four-state treasure and collaborates, educates, organize, restores and intervenes to preserve its health for generations to come.

To learn more about CRWC, or to make a contribution to help protect the Connecticut River, visit www.ctriver.org or call 413-772-2020, ext. 201.

For more information, visit http://www.ctriver.org/river-celebration-announces-launch-of-expanded-connecticut-river-paddlers-trail/#sthash.nP6eiSVf.dpuf

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CT Historic Gardens Day Takes Place Today

Enjoy the beauty of the Florence Griswold Museum's historic gardens this Sunday.

Enjoy the beauty of the Florence Griswold Museum’s historic gardens this Sunday.

Fourteen sites throughout the state celebrate with special programs

The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme is one of 14 of the state’s beautiful sites that have joined to form Connecticut’s Historic Gardens.  This coming Sunday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m, each site will offer special activities emphasizing their garden program for CT Historic Gardens Day.

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The gardens are a-bloom at the Florence Griswold Museum.

These delightful places, scattered throughout the state, offer visitors an opportunity to explore a  variety of garden styles and time periods.

The sites are: Florence Griswold Museum Old Lyme

At the Museum, outdoor activities are free from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitors are invited to stroll through “Miss Florence’s” historic gardens and watch members of the Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists as they work on paintings featuring models posed in the gardens and along the river. Painting materials will be supplied so that visitors can try their hand at creating their own masterpieces. Families can go on the new garden scavenger hunt. Museum admission applies to House and galleries.

The Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden Bethlehem

Stroll through the circa 1915 formal garden and landscaped grounds of the Ferriday Garden. Guides will be on hand to share informative and often amusing excerpts from Caroline Ferriday’s garden notebooks that illustrate her interests and concerns about the plants she chose for the garden and their care. Check out the plants for sale, the art exhibit featured in the visitor center and sip a glass of switchel, a recipe Miss Ferriday copied from the Boston Herald. “There’s nothing like switswitchelchel to allay thirst and generate optimism.” Ice tea will also be on hand. Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic house tour.

Butler-McCook House & Garden Hartford

Stroll through the 1865 Jacob Weidenmann-designed Victorian garden where staff will tell the story of its history and answer questions. Enjoy a glass of lemonade and the Main Street History Center exhibition. Grounds free; regular admission applies for historic house tour.

Glebe House Museum & The Gertrude Jekyll Garden Woodbury

Garden tours led by garden volunteers “Gertrude’s Gardeners.” Enjoy lemonade and cookies and browse garden books, plants from the garden, and garden related items for sale. Enjoy a presentation about the discovery of the Jekyll Garden plans and how the garden came to be. We are celebrating the 85th anniversary of Miss Jekyll’s garden plan and the 20th year since its installation.

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Harkness Memorial State Park (pictured above) Waterford

Garden tours and talks about the history and Beatrix Farrand design of the Harkness gardens provided free of charge by Park Staff and Friends of Harkness volunteers. In addition, take a tour of the mansion from 10am to 2pm, visit the Gift Shop, or enjoy some refreshments with spectacular views of Long Island Sound.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Hartford

Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic

house and garden tour. For Stowe’s bicentennial, treat yourself to a guided tour of her charming Victorian Gothic revival home, surrounded by ever-blooming gardens. The historic gardens are open for strolling every day.

Don’t miss a visit to the Stowe Center Museum Store for books and garden treasures. House and Garden tours offered every half hour. Find your favorite spot in the garden – watercolors, paper and brushes are on hand so you can tap into your inner artist and paint en plein air!

Hill-Stead Museum Farmington

Stroll the paths of Hill-Stead’s c. 1920 Beatrix Farrand-designed Sunken Garden, admire heirloom plants and consult with interpreters and master gardeners. A wedding in the Sunken Garden requires visitors to clear the garden by 2 pm. Ice-cold lemonade available from 2-4pm in the Kitchen Garden.

New London County Historical Society and Shaw Mansion New London

Included in the regular admission price are special tours and lectures. In the morning, Connecticut Master Gardeners provide tours of the Shaw Mansion Garden. In the afternoon, Miss Perkins and some of her friends from the 1860s return to her garden with some period music and to offer a guided tour sharing, “the Language of Flowers.” Presentations will be scheduled on the Shaw Mansion-Woodbridge Farm connection, and on the surprising connection between the Shaw Mansion gardens and famed modernist landscape designer Christopher Tunnard. Strawberry shortcake available.

Osborne Homestead Museum Derby

After strolling through the museum’s lovely Colonial Revival gardens, visitors can enjoy the historic house museum and learn about Frances Osborne Kellogg’s passion for gardening and conservation. Complimentary museum and garden tours will be offered every half hour on the hour.

Promisek at Three Rivers Farm Bridgewater

In 1921 Beatrix Farrand designed a formal garden on this property for Dr. Frederick Peterson, a noted New York neurologist, who entertained family, friends and clients on his country estate, which he called Three Rivers Farm.  By the time the 300-acre tract was acquired in 1978 by Promisek, all traces of the garden’s former glory had been buried under years of overgrowth. In 1992 a local resident and garden historian  rediscovered the historic value of the walled garden, and a restoration began using the plan found in the Farrand archives at the University of California at Berkeley. Come visit us in the garden and discover this unearthed treasure.

Roseland Cottage Woodstock

From 1-4 enjoy a guided tour of the garden and learn the history, significance, and theory behind the Roseland Cottage garden layout and design, including Historic New England’s on-going boxwood restoration project.  Tours on the hour. Free admission.

Thankful Arnold House Museum Haddam

Scents and Sachets!  Visitors to the Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Memorial Garden learn how the Widow Thankful Arnold used herbs in the early 19th century for medicinal, household and culinary purposes.  The garden features over 50 varieties of herbs including many that were used to make an early American home smell sweeter.  We invite guests to make a scented sachet, complete an herb scavenger hunt and enjoy light refreshments.  The garden and museum are free between 12 noon and 4 pm.

Webb Deane Stevens Museum Wethersfield

Visitors enjoy a free garden tour focusing on the architect, Amy Cogswell, and the history of the garden. Master gardeners and other garden volunteers are on hand to answer questions on the garden. Garden visitors receive a coupon for $1 off the three house tours (regularly $10 for a one hour tour). The highlight is the Webb House, where George Washington met with the Comte de Rochambeau to plan the siege of Yorktown, which ended the Revolutionary War. Tea, lemonade and homemade cookies will be served.

Weir Farm National Historic Site Wilton

Weir Farm’s Garden Gang volunteers offer short informal talks in the Sunken Garden and Secret Garden about the gardens’ history, flowers, restoration, and ongoing preservation. In addition to the talks, visitors can spend an afternoon painting in the landscape. Experience first-hand the fun of creating art in a landscape that has inspired artists for over 125 years. Watercolor supplies available at no charge from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. The colonial revival Sunken Garden and the Secret Garden, which was created in 1915 and features a fountain, sundial, and rustic cedar fence, appear today just as they did to J. Alden Weir and the other artists that made this farm their home.

For more information, visit http://www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org

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Explore ‘Art in Nature’ This Weekend

Art_in_Nature_WeekendAn ‘Art in Nature Weekend’ is being held at the Lymes’ Senior Center starting Friday  evening at 5 p.m. and running through Sunday at 2 p.m.  A “Blooming Art Exhibit, Silent Auction and Sale” continues through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  A Family Trail Hike starts at 9:30 a.m. from the Center and a family Landscape Painting Class with Florence Griswold Art Educator Julie Garvin Riggs takes place at 10 and 11 a.m.  Lunch is being prepared by the Lions Club. and at 1 p.m. Paul Spitzer presents ‘Learning From Osprey.’

On Sunday, the art exhibition continues from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Another Family Trail Hike starts at 9:30 a.m. from the Center and there is a live bird presentation at 10:30 a.m.  Again, lunch is being prepared by the Lions Club and at 1 p.m., there will be a floral design demonstration.  The Silent Auction ends at 2p.m. when winners can pick up their prizes.

Click here to see enlarged version of poster above with more information.

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Two Nature Hikes Planned This Weekend

As part of the Lymes’ Senior Center ‘Art in Nature’ Weekend, Diane Blackwell will lead hikes to the second Fish Ladder and Watch Rock in Old Lyme this weekend.

The hikes will leave from the Senior Center at 26 Town Woods Road Old Lyme at 9:30 a.m. both Saturday, June 21 and Sunday, June 22.

Pre-registration is required.  Call (860)434-4127 to register.

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Op-Ed: Coyotes in Town, Be Vigilant, Learn How To Respond

coyoteOur thanks to Joan Bozek of Old Lyme for sharing this important information with LymeLine readers.

My 55-pound yellow Lab, Holly, was charged by two coyotes at 9 a.m. yesterday morning. We were on our daily walk at the junction of the Lord’s Meadow and Lord’s Woods subdivisions in northern Old Lyme when the coyotes charged across the lawn of one of the houses onto the street. Holly was about 50 feet behind both my other, 65-pound Lab and me when the coyotes tried to circle and attack. Fortunately, I knew how to scare them away, and my Labs were not harmed. It was terrifying.

The DEEP responded that the pair was likely out hunting food for their pups and saw my dog as a threat to a nearby den. It is the time of year when coyotes will be more aggressive protecting their young. Still, it was clear to me from the way the pair approached my dog that they meant to do real harm.

The Old Lyme Animal Control officer, Lynn, reports that predator wildlife attacks have become much more common and devastating to our pets. More than 30 cats are missing this year. She told me that coyotes have even attacked a dog on leash. A bobcat the size of a medium dog has been spotted in the Jericho neighborhood. And the fisher cats are particularly brutal. And, these attacks are not limited to evenings and night time.

Both the DEEP and Lynn passed along these tips for staying safe:

  • Know how to scare away predators. Generally, make a lot of low pitched threatening noise and do your best to look really big and threatening to them! It worked for me.
  • Keep your dogs on leash always, particularly at this time of year. In my case, once the coyotes backed off on their attack, Holly, who was not on leash, began to chase one of them! Fortunately, she heard the terror in my voice and stopped on command (this time).
  • Do not leave dogs unattended outside behind electric fences! Both the DEEP and Lynn were adamant on this. Small dogs particularly are easy prey. As I discovered, coyotes have grown bold enough to be around houses and out in the open.
  • Cats are not safe outside. Since even fisher cats are hunting in daylight, outdoor cats are easy prey.
  • Finally, report any incident to our animal control office and to DEEP. They are looking for patterns and true dangers. And they want to stop problems before they escalate into human interactions.

I enjoy living in the woods and respect wildlife. But I want my doggies — my family — safe and comfortable outdoors with me. So please be vigilant and careful.

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