Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Inc.
deKoven House Community Center
27 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Welcome to Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District
soil and water conservation since 1946
The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is
to promote the sound use and management of natural resources in our 26-town area.
The District provides technical assistance and education in:
♦ soil and water conservation
♦ erosion and sedimentation control
♦ stormwater management
♦ watershed protection
Our programs and services are provided to:
♦ municipal staff and land use commissioners
♦ private residents
♦ agricultural producers
♦ the public
♦ the development community
The Connecticut River Watch Program, a citizen monitoring program for the Connecticut River and tributaries, is one of the District's flagship programs.
The District receives financial support from municipal contributions, the State of Connecticut, an
annual native plant sale, state, federal and private grants, and private contributions.
|2013 CT Native Plant Sale--April 19-21 |
Spring is finally here, and our annual plant sale is right around the corner! Our 2013 sale will take place April 19-21 at Old Saybrook Shopping Center. The brochure and order form are now available here (link to PDF brochure and order form). Ordering deadline is April 1, 2013, however there will be plenty of extra plants available for purchase at the sale. Come early for the best selection!
We are pleased to once again offer a variety of CT natives to enhance your landscape, including shrubs, groundcovers, evergreen tree seedlings, grasses, ferns, flowering perennials, many edibles suitable for landscaping, and wet-loving plants for rain gardens. A new, special focus of this year's sale is plants to attract pollinators We are also offering two popular items first offered last year: the "Buffer in a Bag" packet to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality along streams, lakes and ponds; and Collins Organic Compost, direct from Collins Powder Hill Farm in Enfield.
Phone 860-346-3282 or email email@example.com to be placed on our mailing list and receive a copy of the brochure when it goes out in the mail in February. Or download a copy here (link to PDF brochure and order form).
|Coginchaug Water Quality Findings to Inform Restoration Efforts |
Water quality results for this past season's water quality study of the Coginchaug River watershed have been compiled and analyzed, and follow up activities are currently being planned in cooperation with the towns. Water sampling was conducted this past season as part of the District's citizen water quality monitoring program, the Connecticut River Watch Program. 15 volunteers from the four watershed towns--Middletown, Middlefield, Durham and Guilford--and one even from Clinton, were recruited, trained and equipped to participate. Sampling began on Wednesday June 13 and took place every other week through October 17. A total of 21 sites throughout the watershed were monitored as part of the study. Samples were analyzed for E.coli bacteria at the State Department of Public Health Lab free of charge through a cooperative arrangement with the towns. Results were mixed, with some sites meeting the criteria in CT's Water Quality Standards and some not. Findings are being used to inform and guide ongoing water quality improvement efforts in the watershed, and the District is currently working with towns to plan for further investigations to track down possible sources of bacteria. Funding to support this effort comes from a grant from USDA-NRCS, and other partners include the watershed towns, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, USGS, and the State Lab. Thanks to all--including our dedicated water sampling volunteers--who made this program possible! For more information, contact Jane Brawerman or Kelly Starr at the District office.
|Rain Garden Sign Installed at Acton Public Library |
We are pleased to report that with installation of the educational sign, our demonstration rain garden project at Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook is now complete. The sturdy outdoor sign was developed in collaboration with Old Saybrook and CT NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) staff as part of a project to build awareness about the "green" benefits of rain gardens and promote their use to reduce storm water runoff and protect water resources. Funding for the sign was provided by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation and the Town of Old Saybrook. For more information about the project, including a sequence of photographs of the rain garden in development, go to the "Past Events" tab, and also see the cover article in our newsletter (link to PDF of newsletter). To link to a PDF of the sign, click on the sign image below.
|District's 65th Annual Meeting Featured Tour of Wellstone Farm |
Friends and partners of the Conservation District joined staff and board members at Wellstone Farm in Higganum, CT on Saturday, November 3, 2012, a beautiful fall day, for our 65th Annual Meeting. The program featured a very informative tour of Wellstone Farm, a two acre biologically managed farm growing vegetables, flowers, berries and herbs, led by Ian and Melissa Gibson, the mother and son team who own and run the farm. Participants learned about the CSA (community supported agriculture) operation, the farm's focus on organic principles and healthy soil, as well as the many environmental initiatives and sustainable practices implemented at the farm, including a composting facility, nutrient management practices, a micro-irrigation system, and energy conservation. Following the tour, everyone gathered to hear about the Districts's 2012 conservation highlights (link to pdf of Year in Review), then for a ceremony honoring our Conservation Award Winners (link to pdf list of conservation awardees).
|District Holds Workshop on Managing Livestock to Protect and Improve Water Quality |
Farmers and other interested community members attended the Conservation District's evening workshop on managing livestock waste, held on October 25, 2012 at the Durham Public Library. The workshop was planned as part of ongoing efforts to improve water quality in the Coginchaug River watershed, with funding from USDA-NRCS. While intended primarily for agricultural operations in the watershed's towns--Middletown, Middlefield, Durham and Guilford--others were also welcome. Presentations were geared toward any size operation, ranging from a few backyard animals, to larger horse, cattle, dairy, pig , goat, sheep, etc. farms. Presenters included Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, Equine Extension Specialist at UConn, who discussed recommended management practices to reduce pollution from livestock; Joe Wettemann, Senior Sanitary Engineer with CT DEEP, who provided an overview of manure, wastewater, and mortality management to minimize water quality impacts; and Javier Cruz, District Conservationist with NRCS, who reviewed technical and financial resources available to plan, design and install conservation practices. In addition, Dino Esposito, owner of Stoneridge Farm in N. Guilford, spoke about his positive experience working with NRCS and the Conservation District to plan and install a number of water quality improvement practices at his farm. Attendees also received a packet of resource information. Based on feedback received from participants, everyone felt the workshop was informative and useful. See the workshop flier for more information (link to PDF flier).
|Coginchaug River Cleanup a Success! |
On September 29, 2012 the District and Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center held a successful annual Coginchaug River cleanup at Veterans Park in Middletown. The cleanup was held in conjunction with the Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup, an annual four-state community cleanup of the Connecticut River and tributaries coordinated by the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Many thanks to teacher Courtney Johnson and her students, members of the community, and the City of Middletown for their efforts to help clean up the river.
Volunteers for the 2012 Coginchaug River cleanup haul the prize--
a shopping cart lugged up a steep and slippery slope--into the
dumptruck provided by the City of Middletown
|Tree Swallow Cruise & Wine Tasting Enjoyed by All!!! |
What better way to spend a lovely late summer evening, than tasting wine, eating gourmet food, and enjoying the beauty of the lower Connecticut River? On Thursday, August 30, 2012, fifty-two supporters joined us aboard the RiverQuest for our 8th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program. The event featured local wines from Priam Vineyards in Colchester, organic wines from all over the world provided by Organic Vintages, a delicious dinner from The Cooking Company in Haddam, all topped off by stunning scenery, bald eagle sitings, a beautiful sunset, an almost full moon, and a most amazing tree swallow show, one of the best ever seen by many of us!!! Door prizes were also given out, including gift certificates for the Conservation District's annual native plant sale, and a cruise for two on the RiverQuest; a copy of The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey; bottles of Priam wine; and gemstones donated by local gemologist, Jim Sipperly. A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors whose generous contributions made the cruise possible: Captain Mark and First Mate Mindy Yuknat of the RiverQuest; Gloria Priam and Gary Crump of Priam Vineyards; Organic Vintages; Clinton Nurseries; Jim Sipperly; and R2 Graphics. Many thanks also to our enthusiastic cruise participants who helped make the event such a great success...and so much fun!
|Copies of Invasive Plant Guide Available!! |
Copies of our popular invasives guide are now available again, thanks to funding from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area (RC&D)!! This guide was developed to help landowners identify and control non-native invasive plants in their yards. Invasive plants thrive outside their natural range, threatening the health of our native plant and animal communities. Controlling invasives is a challenge, but the benefits are great! Download a PDF of the guide (1.3 MB), or contact us for hard copies. (link to PDF guide)
|Updated Backyard Water Resources Guide Available |
The second edition of our popular guide, The Backyard Water Resources Guide: A Guide to the Stewardship and Protection of Backyard Wetlands, Ponds, Streams, Lakes, Rivers and Estuaries, is published, thanks to generous support from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area! Copies are available in our office, or you can view the guide here (link to PDF guide).
|Rain Recycling with Rain Barrels |
Learn about the benefits and how-tos of rain barrels from this new brochure published by the Conservation District (link to PDF brochure)!
|2012 Plant Sale a Success! |
Thanks to everyone who made a plant sale such a great success this year--our hard-working volunteers, our customers, our nurseries and other suppliers, and our host at the Old Saybrook Shopping Center! We look forward to seeing you all again next year!!!!
|District Newsletter Published |
Learn how our demonstration rain garden was built in Old Saybrook and read about our new initiative to work with horse owners and operators in coastal areas...and much more! Newsletters will be going out in the mail soon with your plant sale brochure. Copies are available at our office or view a copy here (link to PDF newsletter).
64th Annual Meeting Held at Priam Vineyards
Friends, board members and staff of the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District's gathered for our 64th annual meeting on Saturday, October 23, 2011 at Priam Vineyards in Colchester. The meeting was hosted by board member Gary Crump and his wife Gloria Priam, co-owners of the farm winery. Priam is an environmentally sustainable vineyard and winery located in the Salmon River Watershed, producing a variety of award-winning handcrafted white and red wines. Notably the first completely solar-powered winery in New England, the winery and 40-acre farm provide many notable examples of practices designed to reduce their impact on the environment. Participants were treated to an informative presentation and tour led by Gary Crump, Vineyard Manager and Winemaker, highlighting the vineyards' environmental features, including the large solar array, sustainable agricultural practices and wildlife habitat enhancements. Following the tour and a brief business meeting we were pleased to recognize and congratulate our 2011 conservation award winners. Then, after we enjoyed some refreshments, many of the attendees retired to the busy and buzzing tasting room to sample the fruits of Gary and Gloria's labor. Many thanks to everyone who came to the vineyard for our meeting, and to Gary and Gloria for taking time out of their busy weekend schedule to graciously host our meeting We applaud them for their passion for their land, and their commitment to managing their farm winery in an environmentally sustainable way.
7th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Fundraiser Our Biggest Ever!
Our rescheduled cruise aboard the RiverQuest to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program set off without a snag from Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam on October 4, 2011 despite the threatening rain. The evening turned a bit chilly but not a drop of rain fell on us the entire time, although the dock was drenched when we returned from our trip! We are very grateful to our sponsors for their generous contributions that make the cruise possible, including RiverQuest owners Mark and Mindy Yuknat; David Richards of Clinton Nurseries; Priam Vineyards' Gary Crump and Gloria Priam; and R2 Graphics. A variety of fine Priam wines and delicious and plentiful fare from The Cooking Company were enjoyed by all, as were the beautiful scenery, Mark and Mindy's stories about the river and natural history information, and, of course, the swallow show. Thanks to all of our enthusiastic and fun-loving Connecticut River Watch Program supporters for joining us on board and making the evening so enjoyable!
Coginchaug River Cleanup Held at Veterans Park in Middletown in Conjunction with Duck Race Fundraiser
For the second year, the Conservation District and Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center cosponsored a river cleanup at Veteran's Park in Middletown. The cleanup took place on October 8, 2011 as part of the watershed-wide Connecticut River Watershed Council Source to Sea Cleanup. Despite the fact that the river was cleaned up a year ago, volunteers once again picked up an impressive dumptruck full of trash, with many recyclables separated out. Thanks to the many students, parents, and members of the community who helped. Thanks also to the City of Middletown Parks and Recreation Department, which provided cleanup supplies and a dumptruck for the event.
Once again, the cleanup was scheduled in conjunction with the Mattabeset FFA duck race fundraiser, which was held earlier in the day at Wadsworth Falls State Park. The duck race raised over $3,000, which will support the Mattabeset FFA chapter and student leadership trip to Indiana this fall.
Demonstration Rain Garden Built in Old Saybrook as Part of Workshop
A beautiful and functional rain garden is now featured at the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook as a result of our "Build a Rain Garden" workshop held in September. The workshop drew a great group, who came to learn about rain garden benefits and design, and then pulled up their sleeves to help construct the rain garden on-site. We were excited to partner with the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Program, and The Rockfall Foundation on this project to promote the use of rain gardens to protect and improve water quality in developed areas. The rain garden, with accompanied educational signage (still under development), will serve as a learning tool and inspiration for library patrons. For more information about the project see our newsletter.
Healthy Fall Lawns Program Features Scott Reil
As a follow-up to the spring screening of the documentary about the health and environmental risks of lawn care chemicals, A Chemical Reaction (see below), Project Green Lawn hosted a talk on making the switch to organic lawn care methods on September 12, 2011 at Russell Library in Middletown. There are many things to do in the fall to prepare your lawn for the spring growing season,like seeding and spreading compost, and it is also an excellent time to begin the transition to organic methods, according to local organic land care professional, Scott Reil, who presented the program. Scott provided many tips along with a schedule for when to do what to have beautiful organic lawns that aren't harmful to us, our pets or our environment. Sponsored by Project Green Lawn (go to Community Outreach tab).
Second Annual Screening of A Chemical Reaction an Inspiring and Eye-Opening Event
Over fifty people came out on a rainy night in March to Middlesex Community College to watch our second annual screening of A Chemical Reaction, an inspirational documentary about the dangerous health effects of lawn chemicals and a community’s successful campaign to ban them in Canada. The film followed Paul Tukey, a former lawn care practitioner and founder of SafeLawns, on his path across the county and into Canada to spread the word about the dangers of lawn chemicals and how to have beautiful, lush lawns organically. Paul’s own health was affected from using lawn chemicals and at his doctor’s advice he made a transition to organic methods. He now has extensive experience maintaining organic lawns. Through the movie Paul tracked the progress of Dr. June Irwin’s efforts to ban lawn care chemicals from her town due to the medical problems she was seeing in her patients. The ban passed, was upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court and eventually spread all across Canada.
After the film Scott Reil, a Connecticut accredited nurseryman, organic lawn care professional, and representative of SafeLawns, led a discussion on organic lawn care. He answered many questions ranging from how to make the switch to organic methods, to how to deal with poison ivy, and whether crabgrass really is bad for your lawn.
Community leaders attending the event included State Representative Matt Lesser, Middletown Common Councilmen David Bauer and Dan Drew and the Director of Middletown's Water & Sewer Department, Guy Russo.
The evening ended with a drawing for a variety of fun door prizes. Winners received low water use plants suitable for use in place of grass (donated by Scott Reil); The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey, and a plant sale gift certificate (donated by Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District); The Healthy Home Book by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz (donated by Cindy Snow), a Middlesex Community College t-shirt (donated by the college); and a Green Cone food digester (donated by the Middletown Public Works Department).
Little yellow signs popping up all over at the time of the screening announced the beginning of lawn care season--the time to think about what we apply to our lawns. The film makes a compelling case for chem-free, organic lawns, not only the safe choice, but the choice for sustainable, healthy and lush lawns. When human health is at stake, “better safe than sorry” as one expert aptly told it.
More information on the film can be found at safelawns.org/chemical-reaction. If you missed the screening but would like to see the film, contact Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's Recycling Coordinator at 860-344-3526 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Other useful information about organic gardening can be found on Scott Reil’s website, www.helpfulgardener.com, and on the SafeLawns website, www.safelawns.org.
The film screening was held as part of the Project Green Lawn public awareness campaign to encourage residents and businesses to maintain healthy lawns free of chemicals that are harmful to people, pets and the environment. For more information about the campaign go to the Education page on our website (Community Outreach tab).
Workshop Participants Learn About Creating Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Beginning in 2006 we were pleased to collaborate with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Project Green Lawn Partners to promote backyard conservation for wildlife at on-site seminars highlighting a Middletown resident's yard. The last such program was held on Sunday, October 4, 2009, when 20 people gathered to learn from Eleanore Milardo's yard, transformed from a lawn dominated 3/4 acre suburban lot into a diverse array of plants and habitats, now featuring 120 native species planted to enhance wildlife value. DEP Wildlife Biologist Peter Picone gave an information-packed onsite presentation and walking tour, highlighting the relationship between the native plants and abundant insects, birds, and mammals that now share the garden.
At the workshop, we were pleased to present Eleanore with an award from the District in recognition of her ongoing efforts to transform her suburban lot into a haven for wildlife using native plants, and to teach and inspire others with her yard.
In June 2010, we were saddened to learn of Eleanore's passing. As it was her wish to allow continued use of her property for workshops, we hope to continue the tradition.