April 20, 2014

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Environmental Club Honors Earth Day 2014 with Special Event, Tuesday: All Welcome

An osprey brings lunch.

An osprey delivers lunch.

Earth Day 2014 is this coming Tuesday, April 22, and the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Environmental Club is hosting two speakers at 7 p.m. at the high school at 69, Lyme Street in Old Lyme.  Students from high schools in the local region, as well as the general public, are invited to attend.

Before the speakers take the stage, the audience will be able to visit with various groups who will be manning information tables in the Commons area of the high school.  These groups will include the Lyme and Old Lyme Land Trusts, the Old Lyme Conservation and Open Space Commissions, the Potapaug Audubon Society, the Tributary Mill Conservancy and the CT River Gateway Commission.

The theme on which the speakers will focus is: “Spring Migrants And Our Coastal Food Chain: Alewife, Menhaden, and Osprey.”

First to speak will be conservation biologist and ornithological expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, who will discuss his current study of osprey in the lower Connecticut River estuary.

Inspired by his mentor Roger Tory Peterson, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Spitzer was part of the movement that banned DDT in 1972, documenting its correlation to the thinning of osprey egg shells.  He is now collecting data related to the over-fishing of menhaden, a primary food source for osprey chicks.

Spitzer will be joined by Connecticut DEEP biologist Steve Gephard, supervisor for the State’s Diadromous Fish and Conservation Enhancement programs.  Gephard will discuss efforts to restore and protect the fish that migrate between Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River and its tributaries.

It was announced last week that President Obama has appointed Gephard to serve as the Commissioner of the Council of North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization.

According to Congressman Joe Courtney’s office, this is “an international organization established by an intergovernmental convention in 1984 that seeks to restore and manage Atlantic salmon populations”.


Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Service Suspended Due to High Water


As we’ve said before, we always enjoy opening our Inbox, because (like that infamous box of chocolates) we never know what we’re going to find … well, today it held a couple of photos of the Ferry Road (Rte. 148) causeway in Hadlyme across Whalebone Cove flooded out by Connecticut River “freshet” (high water caused by spring rains  and snow melt upstream in northern New England.)


The loyal reader who sent the photos further helpfully advises that service on the Chester- Hadlyme Ferry has been suspended until the water recedes.

The Department of Transportation website states that the duration of time for which the service will be out of action is “unknown.”


Lyme Land Trust Program on Honey Bees, Sunday

A honey bee goes quietly about his essential work.

A honey bee goes quietly about his essential work.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust will present a program on “Our Friends, the Honey Bees,” on April 6, at 2 p.m. at the Lyme Public Hall, 249 Hamburg Road.

John Pritchard and Kiernan Wholean, Directors of the Lyme Land Trust, will present the program.

Honey Bees are our most interesting, important and challenged insect helpers.  One mouthful in three of our diet benefits from honey bee pollination directly or indirectly.  But bee colonies have been collapsing at an alarming rate in the past two decades for unknown reasons.

Pritchard and Wholean, both beekeepers and bee enthusiasts themselves, will describe the rudiments of how to start a beehive and explain the fascinating life cycle and abilities of the honey bee, their importance to our food supply and the threats they face today.

This program is not intended for small children but should be of interest to teens.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Church

A long-time resident of Old Lyme set off early on Sunday morning from her home on Nottingham for Christ The King Church, but decided as she was traveling along Mile Creek Rd. to turn left down Cross Ln. to join Rte. 156 rather than take her more usual route along Mile Creek itself.

Although Phyllis Shepherd-Tambini saw the water in front of her under the Cross Ln. railroad bridge, there were no barriers or cones present at the edge of the water.  She continued driving under the bridge, but the water was much deeper than she anticipated and almost immediately her PT cruiser stalled.

Shepherd-Tambini watched helplessly as the water began to rise within her car, but she remained composed and called 911 on her cell phone.  When the water was roughly up to her waist, she was rescued by members of the Old Lyme Fire and Police Departments, who used a canoe to transport Shepherd-Tambini to safety.

Shepherd-Tambini told LymeLine, “I’m just glad I’ve lived through this story … I never thought I was going to die,” adding, “I knew where the air bubble would be in the car.”  She expressed her deep appreciation to everyone involved in her rescue.

Click here to view a  story and video about Shepherd-Tambini’s unfortunate incident broadcast March 31 on News Channel 3 Eye Witness News.




Cross Lane Impassable Under Railroad Bridge Due to Floodwaters

The rainfall experienced in Old Lyme over the past 24 hours has resulted in standing water under the Cross Lane railroad bridge. That part of Cross Lane will remain impassable for at least the next 18 hours.

Regional District 18 has been notified so that school bus traffic can be diverted on Monday.

Allow extra time for Monday morning travel and take alternate routes.


Learn About ‘The Bear Reality’ at Old Lyme Land Trust’s Annual Meeting, Tomorrow

On Sunday, March 23, Felicia Ortner, a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist and a bear enthusiast, will be the guest speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Old Lyme Land Trust at the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. Titled “The Bear Reality,” her talk will provide education about bears and help dispel misunderstandings.  Ortner has been studying  bears for over 25 years.
In the 1980s, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division first found evidence of a resident bear population.  The number of bears has been steadily increasing in the state and all over New England since that time.
Ortner believes that it is important for residents to learn the facts about black bears and how to coexist with them. Black bears are rarely aggressive, but it is important to “Be Bear Aware” and know how to prevent problems  and unpleasant encounters.
The meeting is from 3 to 5 p.m.  The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.

Spring Walk Today Explores New Lyme Land Trust Preserve

(photo submitted) Roaring Brook In Whalebone Watershed.

(Photo submitted) Roaring Brook In Whalebone Watershed.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust plans to celebrate the start of Spring by sponsoring a public hike that will explore its new 100-acre Banningwood Preserve in Hadlyme on Saturday, March 22.

Land Trust Vice President Don Gerber will lead the walk through the preserve, which stretches along Rte. 82, just north and east of Hadlyme Four Corners.

Also leading the walk, Land Trust Environmental Director Lisa Niccolai will talk about the flora and fauna of the property, Connecticut State Geologist Emeritus Ralph Lewis will explain its geology, and Lyme Selectman Parker Lord will discuss its history.

State grants helped the Trust buy the Banningwood property last year and provided funds that enabled the town of East Haddam to acquire two nearby tracts along Roaring Brook.  Taken together, the 437 acres of the three new preserves will protect almost 2.5 miles of stream frontage on Roaring Brook, which feeds into the Connecticut River through Whalebone Cove.

This walk is a preview to the more formal opening after trails are complete.  The Land Trust plans to develop trails through the preserve when warmer weather permits.

This hike will be moderately difficult because there are no trails.  Waterproof hiking shoes or boots are suggested.  Please do not bring pets.

The hike, which will start at 10 a.m., is open to the public.  Members, non-members, Lyme residents and non-residents are invited.

Parking will be available along the driveway at 19 Town Street (Rte. 82) about 100 yards north of Hadlyme Four Corners and just north of the bridge over Roaring Brook.

In case of bad weather, consult the Land Trust’s Web Site: http://www.lymelandtrust.org for postponement and/or rescheduling.


Lyme’s Own ‘Loch Ness Monster’ Surfaces in the Sun

Loch Ness Monster in Lyme

We were sent this great photo by Connie Donkin of Lyme, which shows a strange sight she saw in Hamburg Cove a week or two ago.  We had to agree with her that it’s remarkably reminiscent of the famed ‘Loch Ness Monster’ — but we decided it looks like he’s sunbathing, which we’re not sure that the real thing would be very likely to do in light of the chilly weather in the Scottish Highlands!


Eagles Feast on Frozen Fish


We are delighted to have received from readers quite a few photos of the varying effects of the cold snap on The Lymes.

The photo above was taken by Nancy Meinke and shows five immature eagles perched in a
tree overlooking the frozen waters visible from the Mile Creek Road bridge.  The extreme cold weather caused a fish kill in this shallow estuary meaning the severe temperatures had caused the shallow water to freeze all the way down to the mud, thus killing small stripers that were wintering there.

As a result, the fish froze to death and thus became banquet food for the birds, including the eagles, which have taken up residency in the area and are shown in the photo.

Thanks for sharing this photo, Nancy – more coming soon.


Potapaug Presents Beekeeping Talk by CT’s Beehive Inspector, Tonight at OL Town Hall

Bees, bees, glorious bees!

Bees, bees, glorious bees!

Potapaug Audubon presents “Beekeeping in Connecticut: History, Challenges & Opportunities” tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme, with guest speaker, Mark Creighton.

Creighton is a Beekeeper and Agricultural Research Technician at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and Connecticut’s Apiary Inspector, inspecting the 5,400 beehives in the state.

This is a free program.

Refreshments will be served.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.


Winter Storm Niko Closes Town Hall, Schools Today; Stay Off the Roads

Photo by Rachel Edwards. Post-Maximus and pre-Niko, yesterday was one of the prettiest days in The Lymes for a long time.

Photo by Rachel Edwards.
Post-Maximus and pre-Niko, yesterday was one of the prettiest days in The Lymes for a long time.

9:18am Update:  Old Lyme Town Hall will be closed today due to icy conditions.  Please stay off the roads as conditions are worsening.  Per Shoreline Sanitation trash/recycling pickup will start at 9 a.m., but they will not go onto unsanded private roads.  This may change if conditions worsen.

9:42am: Tonight’s Board of Education meeting has been postponed until Wednesday, Feb. 12.  It will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. (immediately following the Budget Forum.)

10:43am: Lyme Public Library is closed today.

Winter Storm Niko is blanketing the Lymes in yet more snow this morning closing all District 18 schools and Lyme Academy College for the day. Following so close on the heels of Winter Storm Maximus, which hit the area on Monday, Niko is packing a  fierce one-two punch.

Winter Storm Warnings remain in effect for the entire state until 6 p.m. this evening.  At 6:45 a.m., radar showed moderate to heavy snow falling across the state with a mix of sleet and freezing rain within 10 miles of the coast.

Roadways are snow covered across the state with very slick conditions and a very high impact on travel.  Total snowfall thus far ranges from 3” to 5” in Eastern Connecticut, 4” to 6” in Central Connecticut and up to 9” in Western Connecticut.

Temperatures currently range from the mid to upper 20’s in Northern CT to near 30 F along the coast.

Heavy snow at times is expected across most of the state between 6 and 9 a.m.  A major impact is expected on this morning’s rush hour with 4” to 5” of snow cover on roads, low visibility, heavy snow falling at times, and very slick driving conditions.  The morning commute will be treacherous – take great care.

Snowfall rates of 1” to 2” inches per hour can be expected north of the changeover line until 9:30 a.m.

This afternoon light to moderate rain and snow are anticipated through the early afternoon. Precipitation is expected to taper off to light snow and showers by 2 p.m.  Light snow is expected to continue through the afternoon and taper off completely this evening.

Temperature highs will be near freezing with temperatures starting to fall back into the upper 20s by the end of the afternoon rush hour.  The overall impact on the afternoon rush hour is expected to be minor to moderate.

Total snowfall for this storm continues to forecast accumulations from 4” to 6” along the coast,

Old Lyme Town officials are continuing to monitor the latest forecasts and will send out updates as needed.

Additional cancellations and delays are anticipated and will be posted as received.


Snow Slows Down The Lymes

File photo.  Snow-covered roads in Old Lyme are creating a challenging commute this morning.

File photo. Snow-covered roads in Old Lyme are creating a challenging commute this morning.

Superintendent Ian Neviaser has announced that Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools will be closed today due to the last night’s snow, which totaled some eight inches in the area.

Lyme Academy College is taking a one-hour delay and Old Lyme’s Town Hall is similarly opening one hour late at 10 a.m.  We will gladly publish news of other delays and closings as we receive them.

Stay warm … and safe!


Trust for Public Land Offers Rare Opportunity to Hike ‘The Preserve’ Today

Photo by Bob Lorenz.  Kate Brown of the TPL speaking to a group of hikers participating in the Nov. 16 Preserve hike.

Photo by Bob Lorenz. Kate Brown of the TPL speaking to a group of hikers participating in the Nov. 16 Preserve hike.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) offers two more public hikes in the 1,000 acre ‘Preserve’ today, Saturday, Jan. 11, at 10 a.m. and noon.  The public is not usually allowed access to the privately-owned 1,000 acre forest, so take advantage of this opportunity to see the property for the first time, or discover something new in the ever changing woods.

The hikes scheduled for December were cancelled due to the weather.

The TPL reached a purchase agreement with current owners, River Sound Development, LLC, and is working to realize that purchase by June, 2014.  While the TPL secures funding sources for the purchase, they have planned public hikes to share the experience of this last, large uninterrupted tract of coastal forest located between New York and Boston.

Dress for the day’s weather and a walk on wide, sometimes rocky, and possibly snow-covered trails.

Hikers will meet at the M&J Bus lot, 130 Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook (across from Pasta Vita) to catch the shuttle due to limited parking at the trailhead.  There is no charge for this event.

Members of the TPL, Old Saybrook Land Trust, Essex Land Trust, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and naturalists lead the 90-minute hikes.

In case of inclement weather, the hikes will take place Sunday, Jan. 12.

For information or to RSVP, contact Kate Brown, TPL Project Manager, 203-777-7367 ext. 5 or kate.brown@tpl.org, or visit oslt.org.


Friends of the Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge Honored; 66 Acres Added to Refuge This Year in Lyme

Aerial view of the Connecticut River.

Aerial view of the Connecticut River.

A coalition dedicated to the well-being of New England’s iconic Connecticut River and its watershed has been recognized with a prestigious national land protection award.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Realty has awarded its 2013 National Land Protection Award to the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, a partnership of more than 50 local, regional and national organizations from across the river’s four-state watershed.

The Conte Refuge was established in 1997 to conserve the abundance and diversity of native plants and animals and their habitats in the 7.2-million-acre Connecticut River watershed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. It is the only national wildlife refuge dedicated to a river’s entire watershed.

“The Friends of Conte is an example of how successful conservation through land acquisition is accomplished in this current age,” said A. Eric Alvarez, Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Realty. “The group’s partnership with the Service is what has made the Conte Refuge what it is today.”

Andrew French, project leader for the Conte Refuge, said the Friends of Conte has played a crucial role in supporting the vision of Massachusetts Congressman Silvio O. Conte, for whom it was named.

“Congressman Conte spoke about having his children and grandchildren continue to enjoy the outdoors as he had, and the work of the Friends of Conte has been instrumental to many achievements, contributing toward that vision,” French said. “Their work continues to demonstrate their incredible collaborative approach and ability to integrate conservation actions into recreation, education and economic opportunities sustaining a large and healthy working landscape.”

The Friends of Conte is a diverse coalition of organizations that works to support the recreation, education and conservation work of the Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The Nature ConservancyThe Trust for Public Land and Audubon Connecticut are among the coalition’s members.

“The Friends of Conte are honored to have had the opportunity to help protect habitat in this great watershed and for this great Refuge,” said Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Connecticut and President and former Chair of the Friends of Conte for four years ending in November 2013.  “Conserving the amazing places that make this watershed so special will benefit all of the more than 2 million residents of the watershed and also help to protect the water quality of the Long Island Sound estuary.”

The National Land Protection Award is given annually to private citizens, groups, organizations, corporations, public agencies and their employees, or volunteers outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their significant contributions to land protection in partnership with the Service.

Since 1997, partners have helped protect more than 35,700 acres that are administered by the Conte Refuge. The Friends of Conte has been supporting this work since it was founded in 2005.

The collaboration between the Friends of Conte and the Conte Refuge is also one of the key reasons the Connecticut River Watershed was designated as the United States’ first National Blueway in 2012.  The National Blueways System recognizes stakeholder partnerships, working watershed-wide to promote recreation, education, conservation and sustainable economies.

“This award is much-appreciated recognition for the many, many people, organizations and agencies that, for decades, have remained committed to the betterment of watershed,” said Kim Lutz, Chair of the Friends of Conte and Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program. “Working together, we’ve achieved a great deal and can—and must—achieve a great deal more.”

This year, the Conservancy worked with the Service to add 66 acres of tidal marsh and coastal lands along Whalebone Cove in Lyme, Conn., to the Refuge’s protected area. In Massachusetts, this year, the Conservancy partnered with the Service to protect 125 acres in the Westfield River watershed, which is part of the larger Connecticut River system.

“The Trust for Public Land is honored to have helped complete the body of conservation work that led to this award,” said Clem Clay, Connecticut River Program Director for The Trust for Public Land. “The Fish and Wildlife Service appreciates our assistance and makes the process of partnering with a federal agency as painless as possible.”

The Trust for Public Land, the 2012 recipient of the same award, has partnered with the Service on Conte Refuge acquisitions valued at over $6 million and served as a leader in the Friends of Conte since its inception.

Clay commented that it is particularly gratifying to see that with its land purchases, the Service is not only protecting critical habitat, but also welcoming visitors and providing new recreational opportunities, including a wheelchair-accessible trail under construction in Hadley, Mass.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Realty has given the National Land Protection Award since 2001.

This year’s award was presented this fall at the annual Land Trust Rally in New Orleans.  The Land Trust Rally is the largest gathering of organizations dedicated to land conservation in the country, attended by hundreds of organizations and more than 1,500 individuals.

The Nature Conservancy is the 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 at www.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.

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. Visit The Trust for Public Land online at www.tpl.org.

Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment that supports us all. Our national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages millions of people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world. Visit Audubon online at www.audubon.org.


Nature Conservancy Plans Deer Hunts at Selden Creek, Burnham Brook Preserves, Starting Wednesday

white_tailed_deer_buck2The Nature Conservancy is coordinating deer hunts at its Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme and Burnham Brook Preserve in East Haddam during the firearms deer hunting season.  The goal of the hunts is to reduce the negative impacts of forest overbrowse in these important habitats.

Hunting will begin Wednesday, Nov. 20 and last through Tuesday, Dec. 31;  Burnham Brook Preserve will be closed to public access during that period.

The hunt at Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme will take place during the same timeframe;  however, the preserve will not be closed because the hunting area is safely separated from the part of the preserve with public trails.

Safety for the hunters and neighbors of the preserves is a top priority for the Conservancy.  Signs will be posted at Burnham Brook Preserve informing visitors the preserve is closed during the hunting season, and neighbors have been notified that hunting will take place.  At both preserves, the hunters involved have been hunting together for many years and have hunted on the land before.

The Nature Conservancy maintains that managed hunting is an effective tool that can reduce deer populations and curb the damage they cause, allowing native natural communities, plants and trees to recover their full vigor and diversity.  After several years of hunting, encouraging signs are appearing.

At Burnham Brook, overbrowsing impacts forest regeneration, wildflowers and the shrub layer.  This not only affects the health of the forest but also the animals that depend on it.  Birds that nest and feed on or near the ground have lost the groundcover necessary for protection from predators as well as sources of food.

 The Nature Conservancy is the 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 at www.nature.org/connecticut


Fall Foliage Season Kicks off at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat


The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is ready for autumn with a special seasonal schedule.  Guests can enjoy train and boat rides Friday through Sunday until Sept. 29 along the Lower Connecticut River Valley.

During the peak autumn season, Oct. 3 through Oct. 27, the annual Fall Foliage journey will run five days a week, Thursday through Monday.  This trip allows guests to travel through the Connecticut River Valley on a 2 ½ hour train and boat ride, enjoying the beautiful colors of changing autumn leaves.

The Fall Foliage ride offers departures at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (final departure time is train only).  All departures leave from Essex Station located at 1 Railroad Ave., Essex, CT 06426.

Travelers will enjoy riding on a vintage steam train through the woodlands along the shore of the Connecticut River.  The train will transport guests from Essex Station to Deep River, where passengers will board the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a trip up the Connecticut River past landmarks including Gillette Castle, the Goodspeed Opera House and the Haddam Swing Bridge.

From the windows of your train coach to the open decks of the Becky Thatcher riverboat, there is always a good view of the colorful Connecticut countryside on board the Fall Foliage trip.

For more information on seasonal operations, or to purchase tickets ahead of time, visit www.essexsteamtrain.com.


Old Lyme Land Trust Hosts Swallow Boat Cruise, Sept. 28

swallow migrationThis trip is now full, but a waiting list is being held in case of cancellations.  

On the lower Connecticut River we are fortunate  to be able to witness many spectacular avian happenings.  One highlight of the birding year on the river is the tree swallow concentration that can be found each fall starting in August and running through early October.

During fall migration, hundreds of thousands of tree swallows congregate in this area and at sunset settle in on a giant communal roost.  The birds come from as far away as 30 miles and converge at dusk, often creating a “ballet” and “funnel” of birds before and as they settle down to roost on Goose Island.

The renowned ornithologist and artist Roger Tory Peterson was introduced to this phenomenon by Old Lyme Land Trust Steward Hank Golet.  Peterson wrote, “I have seen a million flamingos on the lakes of East Africa and as many seabirds on the cliffs of the Alaska Pribilofs, but for sheer drama, the tornadoes of tree swallows eclipsed any other avian spectacle I have ever seen.”

The Old Lyme Land Trust is hosting a Connecticut River cruise to view the swallows in action on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m.  Tickets are $40 per person.  Wine, beer and soft drinks will be provided.  Bring your own picnic supper if you wish.

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

Alternatively, join Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel naturalists on Wednesdays or Sundays from Aug. 25 through Oct. 6 as they journey down river aboard RiverQuest to see the spectacular display.  Bring a picnic supper  and your favorite beverage to enjoy on the trip.

Tickets are $40.   Call 860-767-0660 or 1-800-996-8747 or register online at https://ssl.charityweb.net/ctaudubon/event/eaglecruises.htm or visit www.ecotravel.ctaudubon.org and click on Day Trips.  Scroll down to the link.


O’Neil Moves Closer to Prestigious Eagle Scout Award by Blazing New Trail in Heller Preserve

Eagle Scout candidate Kyle O’Neil (third from right) and his trailbuilding crew.

Eagle Scout candidate Kyle O’Neil (third from right) and his trailbuilding crew.

Thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Kyle O’Neil of Old Lyme, with support from his family, friends and Lyme-Old Lyme Boy Scout Troop 26, a new trail in the Heller Preserve on the Lyme-Old Lyme town border will take hikers to new heights.

The Bob and Esther Heller Preserve is located at 80 Town Woods Road and is named for the former residents of Old Lyme, who generously donated the land to the Old Lyme Land Trust (OLLT) in 2010.

For his Eagle Scout project, Kyle designed a loop trail to access the elevated terrain and exposed ledges on the 16 acre property.  He then led a team of workers to clear the trail and blaze it.  The trail heads north from the parking lot and loops back to the west and south, connecting to an existing trail near what is believed to be a Native American amphitheatre.

After tree-trimming and brush cutting, the final step of raking the trail nears completion.

After tree-trimming and brush cutting, the final step of raking the trail nears completion.

Having already earned more than 21 merit badges and completing the other rank requirements, Kyle’s final steps to achieve the prestigious Eagle Scout award include writing a detailed report that summarizes this project and appearing before a Board of Review to answer questions about his Scouting experiences and future plans.

Christina Clayton, OLTT President, describes the Heller Preserve as “a gem” and “… a great place for a Sunday afternoon walk.”  In the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, there are views from the ridge that the new trail accesses.   The OLLT hopes to blaze additional trails on the property in the near future.

Clayton adds, “The OLLT is very grateful for the projects that Kyle and other Scouts from Troop 26 have taken on to supplement the efforts of OLLT volunteers.  Without this support it could take years to achieve the same results.”

Congratulations, Kyle!


Lyme Horse Trials Take Place Today at Lord Creek Farm

Shannon Palumbo negotiates a jump on 'Just Chance'

Shannon Palumbo negotiates a jump on ‘Just Chance’

The public is invited to come to beautiful Lord Creek Farm on Sunday, Aug. 18, and watch close to 70 local riders 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, 13 years ago, the Lyme Horse Trials offers both an opportunity for beginner and intermediate riders to compete, and to support High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. and the Connecticut Valley Pony Club, two locally based nonprofit organizations, who share the proceeds.

This is an opportunity for the public to watch an exciting competition from key vantage points 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.

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

Lyme Horse Trials are organized entirely by volunteers and generously supported by local business partners, including Reynolds Garage & Marine, SeaSide Wine & Spirits, Essex Printing, Essex Savings Bank and Ring’s End.  Proceeds from the Trials will benefit High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. and the Connecticut Valley Pony Club.

High Hopes plays an important role in the lives of hundreds of children and adults with special needs each year.  The mission of High Hopes is to provide a secure, challenging and companionable environment that brings extraordinary benefits of therapeutic riding and equine activities to a wide range of individuals through the sharing of knowledge, compassion, experience and inspiration.  For more information about High Hopes, visit www.highhopestr.org

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


Nature Conservancy Works to Control Damaging Invasive Plant Along Lower Connecticut River

phragmites australis

Phragmites australis

In order to help restore and sustain the tidal wetlands along the lower Connecticut River, The Nature Conservancy last year undertook invasive phragmites control work at 12 locations on more than 215 acres, including sites in both Lyme and Old Lyme.

Paid for by funding provided by the Ecosystem Management and Habitat Restoration grants administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the state-permitted and safe herbicide treatments are necessary to help sustain the gains made by DEEP, The Nature Conservancy and others against phragmites.

Initial post-treatment monitoring concluded in June 2013, and the DEEP grant-funded work completed last year by the Conservancy helps ensure that gains made from previous phragmites control efforts are sustained.

In addition to sustaining gains made against phragmites, the project provides more experience and know-how for partners to better analyze best management practices, ensuring future decisions remain well informed.

Apart from Lyme and Old Lyme, the treatments took place at sites in Essex, East Haddam and Old Saybrook.  Observation of conditions in treated areas will be ongoing.

“The Conservancy is grateful for the DEEP’s leadership on this issue,” said David Gumbart, assistant director of land management for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.  “We’re also grateful to the many private landowners who granted permission for work on their lands and appreciative of the many supportive local land trusts and towns.”

In the 1990s, a study documenting the invasion of phragmites along the lower Connecticut River showed that the outstanding native biodiversity for which these marshes are famous was disappearing at an alarming rate.  In some locations, over 40 percent of the native plant communities had been converted to phragmites in less than 30 years.

Subsequently, the Conservancy, DEEP and others began work to stop these losses and rein in phragmites in the tidal marsh system using conventional herbicide and mulching treatments.  Over time, an approximately 80 percent reduction of the plant has been achieved in the tidal marshes of the lower Connecticut River.  These efforts also helped regain additional habitat that will see colonization by native species.

More about phragmites and the Lower Connecticut River

Invasive European strains of Phragmites australis were introduced to the United States in the 1880s, possibly through ships’ ballast, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Invasive Species Information Center.

Since then, phragmites has become one of the biggest threats to the lower Connecticut River’s exemplary tidal marsh system.  This is because it overruns the native plant communities that are a primary feature in the system’s health and productivity.

Although common birds and wildlife can utilize stands of phragmites, the biodiversity and overall ecological integrity of a marsh system is severely compromised by the invasive plant.

Sustaining the tidal marsh habitats through efforts such as phragmites control sustains rare plant species, as well as the migratory, shore and wading birds that thrive in these habitats.  Among the other beneficiaries are fish, including the Atlantic silverside, that utilize the marshes at high tide. Such work also helps sustain the quality of the Long Island Sound.

The Nature Conservancy is the 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 at www.nature.org/connecticut