Archive for August, 2007

North End Peninsula Hike-Saturday 9/1

August 30, 2007

Don’t miss the Saturday hike to the former landfill summit at the Middletown North End peninsula. Meet at 9AM at the recycling center at Johnson and North Main. John Hall, Jonah Center executive director will lead the way and he recommends long trousers and sturdy shoes. Excellent views of the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, the “floating meadows” and the Arrigoni Bridge are seen from this high point. Below are 2 views from the summit earlier this summer.

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More details at Jonah Center web site.

Middletown to Join Mattabesset District?

August 27, 2007

Quotes of the Day….

The sooner Middletown can remove its sewage treatment plant on River Road, the better, according to Middletown Planning Environmental Specialist Jim Sipperly.

“Middletown would represent 30 percent of the flow if it enters the district,” –Mattabesset Chairman William Candelori

Actually Middletown already pours 2.5 million gallons per day into the Mattabesset system, but only as a customer, not as a member.

The Middletown Press reports extensively on the issue today:

MIDDLETOWN – The plans for economic development along the Connecticut River face one major hurdle the waste water treatment plant located on River Road, south of Harborpark.

City say the plant must be upgraded, replaced, or – better yet – removed entirely in order to make room for the proposed river-front development.
That is, if Middletown can send all of its wastewater to the Mattabassett District regional sewer treatment plant in Cromwell…..

The image below is an aerial view of the Mattabesset plant along Route 9 in Cromwell just north of Middletown.

Tags: middletown ct,cromwell ct,sewage plants,mattabesset district

The Hidden World in Our Neighborhood

August 24, 2007

That so stunningly magical a place as “The Floating Meadows” can exist unnoticed, under our very noses, is exposed today in Peter Marteka’s excellent column in the Hartford Courant. Marteka writes a weekly piece called “The Path Less Traveled” and this weeks offering is an account of his, mine, and a couple dozen others’ journey into the Mattabesset River and a hidden world of Wild rice, Arrowroot, and Swallows.

Marteka’a column begins…..

When I first decided to journey up the Connecticut and Mattabesset rivers, I had visions of my canoe tipping over because of strong currents, slapping away mosquitoes the size of blimps and paddling around half-sunk refrigerators and washing machines rusting in the murky water.

Not even close.

Peter Marteka is pictured below as we near the bridges between Middletown and Portland.\paddlers%2Ejpg

Tags: Middletown Ct,Connecticut River,Mattabesset River,canoeing,kayaking

Illegal Trapping on Our Rivers

August 23, 2007

This special bulletin from The Jonah Center’s Barry Chernoff is posted as a public service.

Citizen’s Alert to Protect Wildlife in the Floating Meadows – from Barry Chernoff

Update on trapping (July 14, 08)

14 July 2008  Dear Friends:  I wish to correct a serious error of fact that I have inadvertently spread through our community.  It has to  do with the legality of trapping snapper turtles in CT for private consumption or sales.  Last, year my research team and I encountered unmarked home-made turtle traps in the lower  Mattabesset River.  The traps contained large snapping turtles and one had a raccoon.  After freeing the  animals by cutting open the traps, I contacted the CT DEP law enforcement division.  They told me that  those trapping activities were illegal and they assigned a case number to the case.  I know that an  enforcement officer visited the area and he may have removed some of the traps.  At the end of Saturday’s Jonah-Center river trip, some colleagues and I discovered two unmarked homemade turtle traps in the Coginchaug downstream of the riffle below the Johnson St. Cemetery.  One had  a snapping turtle in it and I walked up the slough, cut the trap open and released the turtle.  This morning, I called the CT DEP to report the incident and received a very clear and different  message.  That it is legal in CT to trap snapping turtles with no limits on size or number whether for  private or commercial use.  I spoke with individuals in law enforcement and in wildlife.  They could not  explain why the message I received last year was different.  I am looking into the efficacy of the lack of restrictions on snapping turtles.  The snapping turtle is  known to live more than 40 years in the wild , much longer in captivity, and breeding begins after 7  years of age (2646 days).  Can the trapping pressure exerted on snappers in the Mattabesset and  Coginchaug drive them to extirpation?  As top predators and scavengers, they have an important role to  play in the ecology of rivers and wetlands. Whether Middletown or Cromwell can take further action to  protect the ecosystem of the lower Coginchaug and Mattabesset rivers is open to question (for example,  a town can decide whether or not to allow taking of wildlife within its boundaries).  In any case, I apologize for spreading false information.  If you spot turtle traps, I, again, urge caution  both because these homemade traps are not designed for the turtles or other creatures to exit alive and  because the owners of the traps may take exception to have having their traps handled.  Sincerely,    Barry Chernoff

I am asking for any of us who are kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing or otherwise recreating in the Lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers to be on the lookout for illegal traps and to report any sightings to the CT Department of Environmental Protection (860-842-4357).

When we were doing our monthly fish census on Wednesday, 22 August, we spotted two illegal traps. The traps are about 3 feet by 4 feet and made out of wire mesh, baited with fish. They were placed near the mouths of slews that enter the river. We found one trap just below where the Coginchaug joins the Mattabesset and the other on the south side one river bend below the house boat.One of the traps had a raccoon in it, which somehow escaped before we returned to free it.The other had two 20-25 lb snapping turtles that we freed.

Do not attempt to handle the traps or release any wildlife that you see in a trap. Trapped wildlife is dangerous, even if you are acting in a friendly fashion. These illegal traps are not designed to allow one to easily remove a live animal. Although the poachers who set these traps usually run their traps during the early morning or at night, poachers are not to be taken lightly or interacted with in a cavalier fashion. They are almost always armed. If you see the traps or someone setting the traps, just note the time and location and call the CT DEP (860-842-4357) to report. Based upon my report the DEP has opened a case and has assigned a conservation officer to investigate.

If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me (

Thanks for your help

Barry Chernoff\floatingMedows1%2Ejpg

New additions today on our Middletown and Military & Veterans pages.

Tags:illegal trapping,coginchaug river,mattabesset river,connecticut river,ct census,jonah center for earth and art

Wild Rice, Arrowroot and Swallows

August 23, 2007\IM000040%5F1%2EJPG

It was a picture perfect, autumn-like day on the Connecticut River yesterday with just enough headwind to test the paddlers’ arms as the flotilla of canoes and kayaks gathered for the Floating Meadows Tour sponsored by The Jonah Center for Earth and Art. I paddled in the media canoe with Peter Marteka of the Courant whose column. The Path Less Traveled appears in the paper on Fridays. In the photo below Peter interviews Jonah Center executive director John Hall.\IM000071%2EJPG

John Hall explained early on that because of the wind some folks might find the going difficult but only one crew had a problem, capsizing near the launch area. Once in the Mattabesset things were much calmer. John Hall explains:

It was, at first, a strenuous paddle into a stiff 17 mph breeze as 25 paddlers departed from Harbor Park and headed upriver, but the wind abated from that point on and we were well-rewarded for our effort. The Floating Meadows are in their glory at this time of year, with wild rice high and bright green, arrow root in purple bloom, swallows darting overhead, and the river water clearer at this time of year than at any other.

IM000074.jpg picture by johnbrush

Last boats in at sunset ending a beautiful day!

Lots more photos here.