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.
|January 2015 Newsletter Features Article on District's Roots |
Our January 2015 edition of Conservation Times is now available (link to PDF newsletter). In addition to a cover article, "The Dust Bowl, the Conservation Districts, and a Celebration of Soils," the newsletter includes updates on our Coginchaug Watershed water quality assessment work, and our Horse Manure Management Project, among other activities. There is also a news flash about an exciting new environmental film series we are launching with partners. Check it out!
|2015 Plant Sale Brochure Available Now!!! |
Spring is around the corner...and we've been busy getting ready for our 24th annual plant sale! The sale will be held April 24-26, 2015 at the Old Saybrook Shopping Center. Once again, you will have the opportunity to select from an extensive and exciting variety of Connecticut native shrubs, ground covers, evergreen tree seedlings, flowering perennials, grasses and ferns, as well as several culinary herbs. As in past years, our offerings include edibles, pollinator plants, and plants suitable for a variety of landscape conditions and uses, such as waterside buffers and rain gardens. This year we'll also have the popular Collins Organic Compost (from Collins Powder Hill Farm in Enfield, CT), and two types of special grouped plants--one to attract hummingbirds and the other, butterflies--packaged in a rustic, reusable, handmade pine box. It's best to order early to reserve your selection!
Advance orders are due by April 6, 2015. A full brochure and order form are available here (download PDF brochure). Please contact our office if you have any questions, (860) 346-3282). Happy garden planning!!
|2014 Annual Report Published |
We are pleased to announce that the District's 2014 Annual Report is now available. Click on the image below to link to a PDF of the report.
|CRCCD 67th Annual Meeting Features Tour of Urban Oaks Farm in New Britain |
New Britain’s Urban Oaks Organic Farm was a wonderful setting for the Conservation District’s 67th annual meeting, held on a warm sunny day in late October. The program featured a talk and tour led by Mike Kandefer, Urban Oaks Founder and Farm Manager, and Joey Listro, Education Coordinator. Our staff and board were joined by friends and partners to hear about highlights of our past year’s conservation work; learn about and honor the accomplishments of our 2014 conservation award winners; and hear about the history of Urban Oaks, the education and outreach programs, and tour the farm’s extensive fields and greenhouses. Participants were even encouraged to taste the delicious salad greens and other produce as we toured the farm, and took advantage of the opportunity to shop at the excellent farm market, which was kept open an extra hour especially for our annual meeting!
Everyone enjoyed our visit and tour of the farm, and was impressed with the success of the operation, the variety of foods grown there, and the tie the farm has forged with the neighborhood and surrounding community. Begun in 1999, Urban Oaks is the first urban farm of its kind in the nation. The 3.5 acre nonprofit certified organic farm works to nourish the local communities and greater CT with high-quality produce accessible to all; provide education and employment opportunities; and showcase economically viable, progressive, organic farming methods that promote and provide sustainable, ecologically sound agriculture in an urban environment. Urban Oaks grows a wide selection of heirloom and specialty vegetables and fruits, including award-winning salad greens, for area restaurants, caterers, schools and the local community. Education programs highlight organic gardening methods, composting and other sustainable practices, and provide hands-on learning and job opportunities for neighborhood children to promote a connection to the land. We encourage you to visit the farm and see for yourself how a blighted inner city area was transformed into an urban oasis.
|10th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting our Biggest Ever! |
Our 10th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program was held on August 26, 2014, a beautiful late summer evening. We had our biggest crowd ever on board, and had to turn away a long list of others who wanted to join the fun. A great time was had by all, with excellent food, wine, scenery and an amazing show put on by the swallows. We are grateful to our sponsors who made the cruise possible, including CT River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, R2 Graphics and Clinton Nurseries. Our sincere thanks also to everyone who joined us and supported our efforts to engage citizens in river monitoring programs.
|Organic Lawn Care at Home |
The District and Middletown's Project Green Lawn partners hosted a program for homeowners in early June focused on maintaining safe and healthy yards, just in time for summer outdoor fun! Many people don't realize that traditional lawn care methods can use dangerous chemicals that are very harmful to people, pets and our environment. The program was held at Russell Library in Middetown. Matt Carroll, co-owner of Jessica's Garden in Marlborough, CT, taught us the steps to having beautiful, healthy lawns that are safe to play on. Topics covered included the benefits of soil testing, aeration, and re-seeding, as well as organic methods of dealing with weeds and fertilizing, along with recommended products. We are planning for another lawn care program in the fall, so stay tuned!
|Technical Assistance Available for Horse Owners |
Given that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year and uses 3 tons of bedding material, managing horse waste properly is essential to prevent environmental impacts. As part of a program funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, the District has been providing technical assistance to horse owners free of charge. While the grant project is now completed, the District will continue to offer this assistance.
If you have a horse operation, or just a few backyard horses, and would like to learn more about management practices to protect water quality and available technical and financial assistance, please contact our office! We will be happy to schedule and on-farm assessment to identify management concerns, recommend improvements, and advise on how to get help with planning and implementation. Assistance is available to anyone in our 26-town area: Berlin, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Hebron, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Marlborough, Middlefield, Middletown, New Britain, Newington, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Rocky Hill, Salem and Westbrook.
|District Newsletter Features Article on Waterside Buffers |
In case you haven't seen our January 2014 edition of Conservation Times, you can view a copy here (link to PDF newsletter). In addition to a cover article on the "Whats, Whys and Hows of Waterside Buffers," you will find updates on our Coginchaug Watershed assessment and conservation projects, horse farm assessments, and Miner Brook stormwater retrofit project, among other activities.
|Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed: The Lake Hayward Demonstration Buffer |
Last spring, the District collaborated with the Eighmtile River Wild & Scenic Watershed to establish a buffer on Lake Hayward in East Haddam with the help of the Lake Hayward Association and Landscape Designer, Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes. The buffer is part of a project to promote use of vegetated buffers along streams, lakes and ponds to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality throughout the Eightmile River Watershed, funded in part by The Rockfall Foundation. In addition to the Lake Hayward demonstration buffer, this multi-component project consists of a Buffer in a Bag, a packet of trees, shrubs and flowering perennials suited for areas that might get flooded periodically, offered at the District's annual plant sale in 2012 and 2013. The project also includes education and outreach about the benefits of waterside vegetated buffers and information about how to create them. A poster, Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed (link to PDF poster), has been developed to place in town halls, libraries, as well as several outdoor areas (e.g. the Lake Hayward pavillion and Devil's Hopyard State Park kiosk); and an on-site educational program will be held in spring 2014 at Lake Hayward.
For more information, including photos and a planting plan, check out www.speakingoflandscapes.com/Lake-Hayward-Buffer-Garden, and www.facebook.com/pages/Eightmile-River-Watershed/170379183001385
Before planting the buffer the area was all turf
Lake Hayward Association volunteers assisted with the planting under the direction of Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes
One of the three segments of the buffer several months after planting
|District's 66th Annual Meeting Celebrates State Park Centennial at Devil's Hopyard |
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of CT's State Parks, our 66th annual meeting was held at Devil's Hopyard State Park on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Participants heard about this past year's conservation highlights; helped honor our Conservation Award winners; and enjoyed a talk and guided walk led by Alison Guinness, District board member, birder, naturalist, historian and friend of Connecticut state parks. One of the earlier properties to become part of our state park system, Devil's Hopyard was acquired by the former State Park and Forest Commission in 1919. The park features the dramatic Chapman Falls--where the Eightmile River drops more than 60 feet over a series of steps--and its unusual pothole formations, thought by some to be the work of the devil. Alison's fun and information-packed presentation covered the park's history, geology, flora and fauna, and the lore behind its name. She even told a few spooky tales to usher in the Halloween season.
Congratulations to our Conservation Award winners, including Environmental Professional, Steve Gephard, DEEP Fisheries Biologist; Cooperator, Urban Oaks Organic Farm, Mike Kandefer; Special Merit Award winner, Jenifer Nadeau, UConn Equine Extension Specialist; and Special Merit Award winner Kathy Connolly, Landscape Designer, Speaking of Landscapes. See the 2013 Conservation Award list (link to list) for a complete listing and additional information. Thanks to all who joined us for a fun fall adventure!
|Coginchaug Water Quality Monitoring Informs Restoration Work |
Water quality investigations in the Coginchaug River Watershed continued this past summer to follow up on 2012 monitoring results as part of ongoing efforts to identify and address sources of bacteria. The monitoring data will be used in planning future assessment and improvement activities, supporting implementation of the comprehensive watershed management plan completed in 2008. Monitoring activities were conducted with the help of volunteers as part of the District's Connecticut River Watch Program, following a plan developed with input from members of the Coginchaug River Watershed-based Plan Implementation Committee. Goals of the water quality study are to locate areas and specific sites contributing to bacterial loading in the Coginchaug, and to build public awareness of water quality issues and human impacts on rivers.
This year's study consisted of a broad survey and a more intensive survey. The broad survey included tributary sites where high bacteria levels were documented in 2012; new sites to bracket potential sources; several main stem Coginchaug River sites; and sites along tributary streams where management practices are being implemented to monitor water quality improvements. Samples were collected every week mid-July through early September. The intensive survey was conducted on a stream where bacteria levels have been consistently high over the years. This sampling was done by staff at multiple sites, both during wet and dry conditions. All samples were being analyzed for E.coli bacteria at the State Department of Public Health Lab free of charge through a cooperative arrangement with the towns. Data are being analyzed and a summary will be posted here soon! For more information, contact Jane Brawerman or Kelly Starr at the District office.
|Clean Water Paddle Draws Enthusiastic Group of Boaters |
The joint Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District paddle on the Mattabesset and Connecticut Rivers on August 10, 2013 was a great success. We had a big turnout and a fun morning on the river, not to mention incredibly beautiful weather. Everyone was excited about the opportunity to participate in the group paddle, and the feedback afterward was all very positive. We started in Cromwell at the Mattabesset River Canoe/Kayak Trail launch, and took out at Harbor Park in Middletown. After getting organized and shuttling cars and people back and forth to the takeout spot, everyone heard from Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC's CT River Steward in Connecticut, and CRCCD Executive Director, Jane Brawerman about each organization's--and the state's--efforts to keep our rivers clean and build awareness about water quality issues.
On the river, we had a impressive flotilla of about 20 boats. As we paddled down the Mattabesset River through Cromwell Meadows, sightings included an adult and an immature bald eagle; a great blue heron; black ducks and lots of ducklings; black crested cormorants; a kingfisher; an eastern kingbird; barn swallows; and lots of painted turtles. There were also many beautiful fields of cardinal flowers, and large stands of wild rice. It is a truly special spot--an amazingly peaceful and ecologically rich refuge, not far from a busy commercial area and several major roads. If you've never had the chance to enjoy it, you should definitely go for a paddle there! Thanks to CRWC for inviting us to partner with them on the Clean Water Paddle, and The Rockfall Foundation for the grant funding that provided boats for a number of participants.
|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)!
Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Raises Fun and Funds!
Our 9th annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting on the CT River to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program, held on August 27, 2013 was another great success! A warm late summer evening, beautiful scenery, delicious food, plentiful fine wine, a sky full of swallows and many other bird sightings (bald eagles, cormorants, great blue herons...), and a boatful of fun people! What more could you want?!?
Thank you to our generous sponsors--CT River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, Clinton Nurseries and R2 Graphics--and all of the cruise participants for supporting our efforts to engage our communities in working for cleaner rivers.
District Holds Workshop: Horse Keeping to Protect and Improve Water Quality
Did you know that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year? Add to that about 3 tons of bedding material, and the total amount of waste per horse per year is 11 tons!
The waste produced by horses, and other livestock for that matter, makes it essential that livestock operations are properly managed to prevent environmental impacts. This spring, the Eastern Connecticut and Connecticut River Coastal Conservation Districts joined together with the Connecticut Horse Council to hold a workshop on best management practices for horse owners. The program, held at Killingworth Equestrian Center, featured a tour to learn firsthand from practices in place at the facility. The workshop was part of an effort funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, primarily in coastal areas.
Participants, some with large facilities and some with a few horses, learned how to make a contribution to protecting and improving water quality by using best management practices, and about technical and financial resources available to help with planning and implementation.
Presenters included Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, Associate Professor and Equine Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut; and Javier Cruz, District Conservationist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Thank you to all who attended, to our presenters, and to our hosts at Killingworth Equestrian Center.
To learn more about technical assistance and cost-share funding available to horse owners, please contact our office.
65th Annual Meeting Features 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
2012 Tree Swallow Cruise and 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!
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 2011. 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 to build awareness about the "green" benefits of rain gardens and promote their use to reduce storm water runoff and protect water resources. The rain garden, with accompanied educational signage completed and installed in 2012, will serve as a learning tool and inspiration for library patrons. For more information about the project, 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.
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.