November 28, 2014

Bye, Bye Beavers? Rodents Raise a Ruckus in Essex

Beavers are causing a bit of bother in Essex.

Beavers are causing a bit of bother in Essex.

There’s a small storm brewing in our near-neighbor Essex about – of all things – beavers!  The Essex Conservation Commission voted unanimously at a Nov. 6 meeting to pursue the possible lethal trapping  of beavers in a pond at Viney Brook Park.  The proposed trapping, which would be carried out by a state licensed trapper who had worked with the commission previously, has drawn an outcry from Essex residents.

As a result of complaints to the Essex Board of Selectmen, the conservation commission will now discuss the trapping at its next regular meeting on Dec. 4.  The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall.

Click here to read our sister online newspaper ValleyNewsNow.com, which is packed with Letters to the Editor on the subject.

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Nature Conservancy Holds Deer Hunt at Lyme’s Selden Creek Preserve to Support Deer Management Program

deer-290x300The Nature Conservancy is coordinating a deer hunt at the Conservancy’s Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme starting Wednesday, Nov. 19 and continuing  through Wednesday, Dec. 31; however, the preserve will not be closed because the hunting area is safely separated from the part of the preserve with public trails.

The Conservancy is also coordinating a hunt at the Burnham Brook Preserve in East Haddam during the same timeframe.  The Preserve will be closed to public access during that period.

The goal of the hunts is to reduce the negative impacts of forest overbrowse in these important habitats, restore balance and foster regeneration.

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.

Deer 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.

Managed hunting is believed to be an effective tool that can reduce deer populations and curb the damage deer cause, allowing native natural communities, plants and trees to recover their full vigor and diversity.

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Connecticut River Gateway Commission Donates $5,000 To “The Preserve” Fund

Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission has contributed $5,000 to the Trust for Public Land Campaign to Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest

The donation will help ensure that the parcel known as The Preserve in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Essex will be permanently protected as forestland and wildlife habitat.

The Gateway Commission was established in 1973 to administer the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone.  Eight towns in the lower Connecticut Valley including Lyme and Old Lyme along with Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam and Old Saybrook joined together in a compact to create the Conservation Zone in order to protect the scenic, historic and environmental resources of the lower Connecticut River.

Although not within the Conservation Zone, The Preserve lies within the lower Connecticut River watershed.  It is the last thousand-acre coastal forest between New York and Boston and includes the headwaters of streams that flow into the Connecticut.

The Commission believes that its protection is important to the ecological health of the watershed and the river.

According to Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody “The Gateway Commission is gratified to join in this vital preservation project.”

For more information about the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, visit  www.ctrivergateway.org or contact J. H. Torrance Downes at (860) 581-8554, or email him at tdownes@rivercog.org.

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Changes Required to Boathouse Plans, Old Lyme Selectmen Discuss How to Move Forward

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Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (left) discusses a point with First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder while Selectman Skip Sibley (right) listens.

At Monday night’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder introduced the agenda item of an update on the Hains Park Boathouse project by describing it as a “pretty big week.”  It transpired that the plans for the new boathouse went out to bid at the start of the week, but by the end of the week had been withdrawn.

Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley explained that the problems had arisen at a meeting held last Thursday between Town representatives including the First Selectwoman, the Building Inspector and Fire Marshal, the architect Nina Cuccio Peck, members of the Boathouse and Hains Park Improvements Committee (BHPIC)  and representatives of Regional School District 18.  Sibley noted, “The big thing that happened was the building [the boathouse] being an educational facility.”  It states on the BHPIC page on the Town’s website that the, “Need to comply with educational occupancy requirements was identified for the first time in the design process,” at this meeting.

When Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal later asked, “What makes it educational?” Reemsnyder noted that the building will be leased by District 18 from the Town and, “The students will be under the supervision of the Athletic Department,” and so, “District 18 has to meet the requirements of an educational building.”  These requirements include making the second storey accessible to all, which, in turn, requires the installation of an elevator.

Sibley described the elevator as a, “Not inexpensive,” item, which took the project financially beyond the scope of the already increased funding for the project.  The BHPIC therefore decided to, in Sibley’s words, “pull the bidding process.”  Members contacted the builders who had attended the Oct. 25 site meeting, refunded their $50 document fees where appropriate and advised them they would be notified when the bid process was restarted.

Sibley stressed that, despite the bidding setback, there was, “Good collaboration between the Town and the schools” on the project and that he was, “Very pleased with the progress being made.”  He added, “I’m very confident we’re going to end up in a better place.”  Reemsnyder commented that these changes meant the boathouse would not now be ready for the spring 2015 rowing season, which had the advantage that it gave time to, “Tighten up the whole management part of it.”  In another new development, District 18 is now looking, “To have an agreement with the Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) to manage the building as a sub-contractor.”  This requires drawing up a Memorandum of Agreement between the two organizations — something on which the respective attorneys are currently working. Reemsnyder stated she had hoped it would be ready for last night’s meeting, but it was not due to, “All the developments,” making it, “A little bit complicated.”  She is now hopeful to receive the Memorandum by December.

Reemsnyder acknowledged that District 18’s position, “Had changed the whole thing,” and said the Selectmen’s response demonstrated, “We do listen, we pay attention,” noting all parties will now benefit from, “A cleaner relationship between District 18 and the OLRA covering liabilities and risks.”  Nosal added positively, “We are moving forward in a collaborative fashion.”

The revised plans for the boathouse, Sibley explained, will incorporate, “The elimination of the second floor and lower the overall height by up to four feet.”  Cuccio Peck is currently working on these plans and, in anticipation of their content, Sibley stated, “I don’t think you’re going to see a drastic change in the building.”

Nosal asked what the position was regarding the Town Meeting at which funds were approved for a building, which is now being changed in design.  Reemsnyder responded that, with the delay in construction, the Town has time to host a number of Public Information Sessions before building begins.  She said that only if the funds approved at the Town Meeting “Will be spent on anything else [other than the boathouse project] will the Selectmen go back to another Town Meeting.”

During public comment, Nancy Hutchinson made an impassioned plea for the membership of the BHPIC to be expanded, noting, “Almost every single one is a rowing coach,” and adding, “We need people that aren’t just rowing experts.”  Urging the board of selectmen to engender, “A win/win situation for the entire community,” she said, “I implore the board of selectmen to restructure the committee.”  Commenting that, “A lot of people support this project,” she suggested if the committee were expanded, the knowledge of both existing and new members could be leveraged — “Let’s help them,” she urged.

Reemsnyder agreed to discuss the suggestion at the board’s next meeting, but Sibley challenged Hutchinson’s contention that the BHPIC was lacking in experience.  He said one member was from the construction company O & G and another also worked in the construction business.  Hutchinson responded, “It’s sometimes helpful to refresh a committee,” adding, “My concern is that they go out to bid before they’re ready.”  Reemsnyder said firmly, “No contract is going to be awarded without it being to code.”

Timothy Griswold first suggested the Town should be using a specialist attorney for the project as the Town has done previously for such projects as the School Bus Barn.  He then commented on the overall changes of the project saying townspeople needed more information since what was being built had changed allegorically, “From a Lexus to a Ford.”  He told the board of selectmen, “I do encourage another Town Meeting so people know what they’re getting.”  Reemsnyder replied, “We don’t have the need for another Town Meeting, but we will have Information Sessions,” and stressed, “We don’t want to misrepresent to the town what we’re doing.”

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Clarification: Deadline for Annual Land Trust Photo Contest Extended to Dec. 1

2013 Land Trust Photo Contest winner by Hank Golet.

2013 Land Trust Photo Contest winner by Hank Golet.

Amateur photographers, no matter where they live, may submit photographs of the scenic countryside, wildlife, plants, and cultural and historic features in the towns of East Haddam, Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, and Salem.
Submissions are being accepted up to Dec. 1. Contest rules are available online athttp://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/ . Entry forms for the contest will be available after September 1 by email only at photocontest@lymelandtrust.org.
A panel of three judges will award cash prizes in the following five categories:Landscape/Waterscape ~ Plants ~ Wildlife ~ Cultural/Historic ~ Youth (photographs of any of the above subjects by photographers aged 14 and younger).Additionally, a special John G. Mitchell Memorial Award will go to the photograph determined to best promote and support biodiversity and the environment.
The Contest judges are William Burt, a naturalist and wildlife photographer acclaimed for his beautiful books; and Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum. New to the panel of judges is Skip Broom, a respected, award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright. Broom replaces the much-appreciated retiring judge, Rudy Muller, who volunteered with the Photo Contest for many years.
All entered photographs, plus all winning photos, will be displayed and celebrated in a public reception in March 2015.
Organizers of the contest, East Haddam Land Trust, Essex Land Trust, Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Old Lyme Land Trust, and the Salem Land Trust, and encourage amateur photographers to join the fun and share wonderful photos from these southern Connecticut towns.Previous Land Trusts Photo Contest winning photos, viewable at https://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/, highlight the beauty of these towns and the pressing need to preserve the environments within these towns.
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Substantial State Grants Announced for Lyme, Old Lyme Open Space Properties

State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano (R-23) along with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced state grants of: $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of open space in Lyme, $162,500 to preserve 40.76 acres of land on 106 Four Mile River Road in Old Lyme and $650,000 to preserve 186 acres of Horse Hill Woods – Phase II in Westbrook.  The collective grants will help preserve over 405 acres of open space.

Open Space projects are a continuation of the supportive roles that these Towns and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have had in preserving open space and protecting habitat.

Sheldon Creek River Access in Lyme will receive $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of land.  Currently, the property is maintained as a meadow with 157 feet of waterfront access along Sheldon cove on the Connecticut River.  This parcel is recognized as a “Wetlands of International Importance,” with public parking and recreation to the river are easily accessible.

The 106 Four Mile River Road property in Old Lyme boasts over 1,250 feet of frontage and public access which will seek to be added to a open space parcels totaling 147 acres.  The $162,500 grant will protect the property, which is traversed by two wetland tributaries of the Three Mile River and is covered by diverse upland forest and stands of mountain laurel.

Additionally, the state also awarded a $650,000 grant to the town of Westbrook, aimed at protecting Horse Hill Woods – Phase II, which consists of two separately owned – but abutting – parcels of land: the Russo (143 acres) and Miele (43 acres) properties.

Giuliano lobbied to secure the purchase of “The Preserve” – a 1,000 acre coastal-forest area that the state is seeking to purchase along with the Town of Old Saybrook and surrounding towns.  The $471,250 award to the Essex Land Trust supports that organization’s plans to purchase a 70.6-acre section of “The Preserve”.

“An investment in preserving open space in Connecticut is one which will surely pay off.  These grants will help safeguard the natural beauty and habitats our district is known for.  Through these grants, we will ensure that generations to come will continue to enjoy the abundant natural beauty,” said Giuliano.

Aiming to preserve 673, 210 acres of undeveloped Connecticut land by 2023, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) developed the Open Space program.  To date, the state has reached nearly 74 percent of its goal, preserving an impressive 496, 182 acres.

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Lewis Discusses Geology of CT River Valley During Today’s Foliage Cruise

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Join retired State Geologist Ralph Lewis, on a sunset cruise from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26, on the RiverQuest, a stable, 54-foot excursion boat with excellent viewing, enclosed cabin, and restroom. The cruise departs from Eagle Landing State Park, Rte. 82, Haddam at 3:30 p.m. The tour will examine the geological features and processes that created this beautiful river valley.

Wine and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres will be provided. The price is $40 for members of the Lyme Public Hall Association, $45 for non-members. Reservations and prepayment are required.

Proceeds support the Hall’s programs.

Contact Leslie at llewis81051@gmail.com or at 860 526-8886 to reserve a place on this trip.

For more information go to the Lyme Public Hall website at www.lymepublichall.org

The Lyme Public Hall Association is dedicated to the appreciation of Lyme’s history, culture, and community through the preservation and use of the historic hall, its archives and historical programs.

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Potapaug Hosts Fall Foliage Boat Cruise Tomorrow Afternoon

CT_River_fall_colors_580Potapaug Audubon is hosting a Fall Foliage Boat Cruise on the Connecticut River aboard RiverQuest on Sunday, Oct. 19, at 1:30 p.m..

The cost is $20 per person.

The cruise will depart from Connecticut River Expeditions, Eagle Landing State Park, 1 Marine Park, Route 82, Haddam, CT.

Call to register at 860-767-9763.

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Old Lyme Town Meeting Tonight to Vote on Additional $405,000 for Hains Park Boathouse

Additional town  funding of up to $405,000 for upgrades to the boathouse at Hain's park on Roger's Lake will be the subject of a Special Town Meeting Monday evening.

Additional town funding of up to $405,000 for upgrades to the boathouse at Hains Park on Roger’s Lake will be the subject of a Special Town Meeting Monday evening.

Old Lyme voters will be asked at a Special Town Meeting to be held this evening Monday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium to consider a request from the Boathouse/Hains Park Improvement Committee to approve additional expenditure for the renovation of the boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake.  The amount being requested from town funds is detailed in the meeting agenda as “not to exceed $405,000.”

In July 2013, Old Lyme was awarded a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for $478,000 to expand and renovate the boathouse at Hains Park on Rogers Lake.  The proposed renovations would make the boathouse ADA accessible with bathrooms, showers and  a workout room, and provide a space to properly maintain and repair equipment.  Renovation of the basketball court and repairs to the docks were also included in the original project scope.

At the Sept. 16 Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, representatives from the Boathouse/Hain’s Park Improvement Committee reported that the estimated costs for the new boathouse, including some site work and renovation to the basketball court, had been revised upwards to $883,000, leaving a shortfall of $405,000 against the original STEAP grant of $478,000.

The revised project includes new bathrooms, which would be accessible to the public, but it is unclear whether the revised scope includes repairs to the docks, which are presently considered unsafe.  At the meeting, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder expressed concern about the safety of the docks and requested that remediation of the docks should be included in the project. She also stressed that one of the conditions of the STEAP grant is that use of the boathouse building should be made available to the public.

At a previous meeting, Reemsnyder noted she had received criticism earlier in the year that this grant was being used for a project that did not directly benefit a larger segment of the population.  Reemsnyder had also previously suggested that Old Lyme residents should be allowed to store kayaks and similar equipment at the facility, but this does not appear to be part of the current vision for the boathouse.

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Thousands of Volunteers Solve Global Trash Problem Locally: Tons of Trash Hauled From Local Rivers

Boy Scout Troop 49 joined the 18th annual Source to Sea Cleanup last weekend. This group from Springfield, MA joined many other groups across the four CT River states to remove tons of trash from in and along our rivers. (photo credit: CRWC staff)

Boy Scout Troop 49 joined the 18th annual Source to Sea Cleanup last weekend. This group from Springfield, MA joined many other groups across the four CT River states to remove tons of trash from in and along our rivers. (photo credit: CRWC staff)

The 410+ mile long Connecticut River and nearby rivers and streams are cleaner of trash thanks to thousands of hard working volunteers. On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 26 and 27, volunteers from businesses, faith communities, watershed groups, schools, community and youth organizations grabbed trash bags and work gloves for the 18th annual Source to Sea Cleanup, organized by the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC). The Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day collaborative trash clean-up event in all four states of the Connecticut River basin (NH, VT, MA, CT).

“While removing trash is important, the Source to Sea Cleanup is about more than that,” says Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC’s Cleanup Coordinator. “The Cleanup is about strengthening community and allowing people to take meaningful action to improve their neighborhoods. When people help clean their rivers, they make connections with each other and their rivers. Those connections have benefits lasting well beyond the Cleanup.”

Final numbers are still being tallied, but it’s estimated that 2,000-2,300 volunteers participated in this year’s Source to Sea Cleanup, cleaning rivers from near the Canadian border down to the mouth of the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, CT. On average, 50 tons of trash is removed from in and near our rivers every year.

At Sumner Falls on the Connecticut River in NH and VT, volunteers from Hypertherm and King Arthur Flour hauled dozens of tires from the river, including one 8’ tall tractor tire that required an hour of work to get ashore.

In Deerfield and Holyoke, MA and in Wethersfield, CT the US Fish & Wildlife Service used an airboat, a landing craft, a john boat, and their research boat along with the elbow grease of eight employees to help get at debris along sites only accessible by boat. This work helped remove over 50 tires, a washing machine, shopping carts, and thousands of single-use beverage containers from high quality habitat areas including around an active eagle’s nest.

At the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club in Springfield, MA volunteers from Covanta Energy, United Water, local boy scouts, and community members filled a dumpster in just a few hours. They found and cleaned up a plastic bottle dump that included hundreds of non-redeemable, single-use plastic bottles.

At this year’s southernmost cleanup in Old Lyme, CT, DEEP Marine Fisheries, the Coast Guard Auxiliary 25-05 and community volunteers in waders spanned the marshes near the river’s mouth. They removed trash that is washed down from the 400+ miles above them, including dozens of plastic bottles, hundreds of Styrofoam pieces, televisions and tires. “From the water the marshes can look deceptively clean” says Talbot. “When you get an up-close look at this last stop before Long Island Sound, you see we are locally addressing a problem with regional and global implications.”

This year, CRWC is also using the Source to Sea Cleanup to support solutions to river waste. “Each year we find thousands of single-use bottles and hundreds of tires in and near our rivers,” notes Talbot. “Eventually, this trash becomes part of the large ocean garbage patches that harm wildlife. We will use the data collected during the Source to Sea Cleanup to help inform policies and practices that will get bottle and tire waste out of our rivers,” continues Talbot. “Healthy rivers are so important because they contribute so much, both to our economies and the beauty and enjoyment of our communities.”

Initiatives such as increasing access and ease of curb side recycling, expanding existing recycling efforts to process all varieties of materials, and extending the responsibility of recycling to manufacturers are essential to the success of zero waste programs. Given what’s found in our rivers every year, CRWC would like to see existing bottle bills be expanded to include all single-use beverage containers, banning or establishing pay-per-use plastic bags, and legislation allowing for free tire disposal. “We all have a responsibility to solve this problem—individuals, manufacturers, businesses, and government,” says Andrew Fisk, CRWC Executive Director. “Lead sponsors NRG Middletown and TransCanada’s financial support enables us to continue growing the Source to Sea Cleanup so that it has an impact beyond the two days of cleanup.”

The CRWC 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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Volunteers Needed for CT River Annual ‘Source to Sea’ Cleanup Day Today

Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have removed more than 851 tons of trash over the 18 years of the river clean-up event. Now CRWC is also working on solutions to keep trash out of our rivers in the first place, particularly tires and plastic bottles.

Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have removed more than 851 tons of trash over the 18 years of the river clean-up event. Now CRWC is also working on solutions to keep trash out of our rivers in the first place, particularly tires and plastic bottles.

The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) will use their 18th Annual Source to Sea Cleanup on Friday anS saturday, Sept. 26 and 27, as a way to push for solutions to river waste. The Cleanup supports policies and legislation that help keep waste from ending up in local rivers and streams. The Council also supports a new vision of zero waste for the Connecticut River and its tributaries.

Zero waste is a goal of a future free from waste. It is a concept being adopted by cities around the world, including Middletown, Conn., right on the Connecticut River. Zero waste aims for all discarded materials to become resources for another use. A zero waste community encourages individuals, businesses, and government agencies to take concrete steps towards rethinking how they treat their trash. “We all have a responsibility to solve this problem—individuals, manufacturers, businesses, and government,” says Andrew Fisk, CRWC Executive Director.

Initiatives such as increasing access and ease of curb side recycling, expanding existing recycling efforts to process all varieties of materials, and extending the responsibility of recycling to manufacturers are essential to the success of zero waste programs. Given what’s found in our rivers every year, CRWC would like to see existing bottle bills be expanded to include all single-use beverage containers, banning or establishing pay-per-use of plastic bags, and legislation allowing for free tire disposal.

“Each year we find thousands of single-use bottles and hundreds of tires in and near our rivers,” notes CRWC River Steward Jacqueline Talbot. “Eventually, this trash becomes part of the large ocean garbage patches that harm wildlife. We will use the data collected on these items during the Source to Sea Cleanup to help inform policies and practices that will get bottle and tire waste out of our rivers,” continues Talbot. “Healthy rivers are so important because they contribute so much, both to our economies and the beauty and enjoyment of our communities.”

Lead Source to Sea Cleanup sponsors NRG Middletown and TransCanada are pleased to support CRWC’s efforts. “TransCanada believes in partnering with organizations that help build stronger communities,” says Jasmin Bertovic, Vice President of the Eastern Commercial Region of TransCanada.

Jeff Araujo, manager of NRG’s Middletown Station, said “We’re pleased to sponsor this event annually, but also to go out and actually clean up the River. This is the community where we live and work, and it’s important to us.”

“We will address river pollution with innovation and teamwork,” says Talbot, “and you can be a part of it.” Volunteers of all ages and abilities are invited to head out to clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat on Sept. 26 and 27. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams and stream banks, parks, boat launches, trails and more. Individuals can join a clean-up group by visiting www.ctriver.org/cleanup and clicking ‘Join a Group’.

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 becoming an event sponsor.

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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Old Lyme Activists Join NYC March to Raise Awareness About Climate Change

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Yesterday morning at 6:45 a.m., a bus pulled out of The Bowerbird parking lot with 65 members and friends of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on board.  Among them were five students from Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools, including Hugh and Abigail Cipparone, who are seniors, Isaac Todd, and Isabella and Leland Hine.

Once in New York City, the bus party from Old Lyme joined what the Associated Press estimated was well over 100,000 marchers, who convened in downtown Manhattan.  Other estimates put the figure as high as 300,000.

At 12:58 p.m., all marchers were silent until 1 p.m. when they made as much noise as possible, sounding an alarm to raise awareness about the growing environmental issues our world faces.

Marchers, who came from as far away as Canada, Alaska, El Salvador, and Texas, carried a variety of posters with messages about fracking, global warming, and other environmental issues.

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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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