Feb. 4, 2016

Consultants present proposed Mago Point regulations

Waterford — Proposed zoning rules and regulations for Mago Point could allow for a boardwalk down the neighborhood’s main street, boutique stores and incentives for shared street parking spaces among business owners, according to consultants who presented their proposals at a public meeting Wednesday.  Read more at The Day.

Jan. 27, 2016

CFE Co-launches Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition to Protect Fragile Forest from Ill-conceived Development

Save the River-Save the Hills and the Friends of Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve unite with statewide group in fight for the forest

New Haven, Conn.—Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE), Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve (Friends), and Save the River-Save the Hills (STR-STH) have launched the Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition to protect 236 undeveloped acres of forest, wetland, and Niantic River shoreline adjoining the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve in East Lyme. The creation of the coalition formalizes the groups’ partnership and provides an opportunity for organizations and citizens across the state to join the fight.

The southeastern Connecticut parcel drains to the Niantic River, a coastal estuary feeding into Long Island Sound. Despite shallow soils, steep ravines, and legally-protected vernal pools and wetlands throughout the terrain, the privately owned Hills have attracted numerous development proposals, which the Friends and STR-STH have opposed. The current owner of the 236-acre parcel, Landmark Development, LLC, has proposed high-density housing on the top ridge of the rocky landscape.

“These dedicated local organizations have been steadfastly fighting ill-conceived development proposals on these hills and wetlands for many years,” said Don Strait, president of CFE and its bi-state program Save the Sound. “An unbroken, fully-protected Oswegatchie Hills is critical to the entire region, coastal ecology, and the health of Long Island Sound. It’s time that we all stand united to speak up for this natural treasure. Saving important lands is difficult, but we’ve proven that when our community bands together, we can win big preservation victories. Last year, a 10-year coalition effort of determined local groups and statewide organizations secured permanent protection for the 1,000-acre forest in Old Saybrook. We’re looking forward to working alongside the Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve and Save the Rivers-Save the Hills to achieve the same success in Oswegatchie.”

Oswegatchie Hills, one of the few remaining large stretches of undeveloped and unprotected coastal waterfront land in the state, has been classified as open space and conservation land in the Town of East Lyme’s Plan of Conservation and Development since 1968. Concerned citizens formed the Friends and STR-STH organizations soon after proposals for a golf course community and high-density housing surfaced in 1999.

The most recent proposal from Landmark is for high-density housing that would place 840 housing units and over 1,700 parking spaces on 36 acres of land. In March 2015, CFE formally challenged the development proposal and became an intervenor in the ongoing litigation brought against the Town of East Lyme.

“CFE’s state-wide presence, credibility, and track record give us renewed energy to save this last large parcel of undeveloped open space,” said Kris Lambert, president of the Friends. “With their expertise, we continue to show that the best use of this land is preservation, not development.” The volunteer-based Friends organization coordinates stewardship of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve with the town and the East Lyme Land Conservation Trust, including trail maintenance, erosion control, and invasive species control. Since its founding, the Nature Preserve has grown through the donation and acquisition of land and conservation easements and now totals 457 acres, comprising the southern two-thirds of the Hills. The coalition aims for the remaining 236 acres to be added to the Nature Preserve.

“Multiple conservation organizations and many individuals have told us, over the years, that they support our cause, but until now we haven’t had the means of bringing broader attention to our battle,” said Fred Grimsey, founder and president of STR-STH. “This coalition shows that we are a unified front of people and organizations who want to see the remaining Oswegatchie Hills preserved, not developed.”

Coalition outreach efforts include community presentations, emails and newsletters, and a Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition section on CFE’s website, where conservation supporters can receive regular updates.

For more information and to schedule a presentation for groups, contact Suzanne Thompson, Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition Coordinator, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, sthompson@ctenvironment.org, (203)-787-0646, ext. 114.


Niantic River sees plentiful scallop season after two-year drought

For the past two years, there weren’t enough scallops in the Niantic River to justify an official harvest season.

But this year the population of the mollusks in the river has jumped, drawing dozens of people to the area after the season’s opening day on Dec. 1.

Click here to read  this article by Martha Shanahan of The Day.

Dec. 28, 2015

NRWC Awarded Funding

NRWC has been awarded funding from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut to update the Niantic River Watershed Protection Plan.  This funding is derived from the inaugural Peter Grayson Letz Fund for the Environment. The Niantic River Watershed Protection Plan, which turns 10 years old in 2016, was the first  DEEP-approved watershed plan in Connecticut to utilize the nine element format recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  NRWC will use the funding to review and update the watershed plan to reflect the many plan elements that have been addressed and/or completed, and to include elements such as climate change and sea-level rise that were not included in the 2006 document.

Read more about the Peter Grayson Letz Fund for the Environment award at the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut or at The Day.

November 29, 2015

New Waterford planning director has a passion for coastal communities

Waterford — More than three months into her post, it seems like Waterford’s new director of planning and development has found the perfect job.  Read this article by Martha Shanahan of The Day here.

November 29, 2015

Landmark appeals Oswegatchie Hills decision; environmental groups intervene

East Lyme — Landmark Development is appealing the town’s latest decision on an affordable housing proposal in the Oswegatchie Hills, but three environmental groups are attempting to have the case dismissed.  Read this article by Kimberly Drelich of The Day here.

Sept. 29, 2015

Study will look at bringing sewers to Saunders Point

East Lyme — The town is moving forward with a study of the feasibility of installing sewers in Saunders Point.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently approved a scope of work for wastewater facility planning for the neighborhood, giving the town the go-ahead to start the study.

Click here to read more of this article by Kim Drelich at The Day.

Click here to read  USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5011 – Evaluation of the Effects of Sewering on Nitrogen Loads to the Niantic River, Southeastern Connecticut, 2005–11.

Nov. 16, 2015

URI study: Beaver dams help keep water cleaner

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — In Rhode Island’s battle to keep its waters clean, count beavers among the state’s allies.

A new study by a team of scientists at the University of Rhode Island has found that beaver dams help remove dissolved nitrogen, a nutrient that washes into waterways from fertilizers and underground septic systems and contributes to low-oxygen conditions that can cause fish kills.

Read this article by at The Providence Journal.

Sept. 21, 2015

NRWC Awards Watershed Supporters

The Niantic River Watershed Committee was pleased to present awards to Senator Paul Formica, East Lyme resident Marvin Schutt and Dominion-Millstone for their support of conservation in the Niantic River watershed.

NRWC Awards_9.21.15Pictured from left to right are: Don Landers, Chris Tomichek, Kevin Hennessy, Sen. Paul Formica, Marvin Schutt, Ralph Bates, Judy Rondeau, John Jasper, Fran Violante and East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson.

As First Selectman of East Lyme, Senator Formica was instrumental in the formation of the Niantic River Watershed Committee, and provided support for several water quality improvement projects that were conducted in partnership with the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District and CT DEEP. Senator Formica continues to support the preservation and protection of the Niantic River in his new role as State Senator.

Marvin Schutt has been involved with the Watershed Committee since its inception in 2008. Marvin served on numerous boards and committees, including the Board of Directors, from which he retired in 2014. Marvin’s energy and experience were invaluable to the Watershed Committee, and were instrumental to both the formation of the Board of Directors in 2011 and the acquisition of 501c3 status in 2015.

Kevin Hennessy was on-hand to accept Dominion-Millstone’s award. Dominion-Millstone has been a dedicated community partner to the Niantic River Watershed Committee since 2008. Dominion has provided financial and technical support for NRWC programs. The Millstone Environmental Lab (MEL) has provided technical assistance to support the water quality monitoring program.  MEL staff have participated in several water quality improvement projects, including the Clark Pond (East Lyme) riparian buffer restoration and the installation of a demonstration coastal riparian buffer at Mago Park (Waterford).

Aug. 17, 2015

Commission likely to approve preliminary plan for Oswegatchie Hills

By Kimberly Drelich

East Lyme — The Zoning Commission moved Thursday in the likely direction of approving both a rezoning proposal and preliminary site plan for an affordable housing development in the Oswegatchie Hills, with several modifications.  Read more at The Day.