Archive for the ‘Environment and Ecology’ Category

Prominent Local Conservationist Cited for River Dumping

June 19, 2011

The Hartford Courant reports (June 15) that Richard Sweet, a past president of the Middlesex Land Trust, was cited on May 9 by CT DEP, on a complaint by Boston Road resident Al Maine, for illegal dumping of construction debris into the Coginchaug River here in Middletown. Mr. Sweet owns the Savage Arms factory site at 465 Middlefield St where the alleged dumping occurred, and another site on the same street occupied by an auto body company. He also is the steward of a 20 acre site nearby owned by Middlesex Land Trust along the Coginchaug River off of Forest St.

Also according to Hartford Courant, Richard Sweet describes the charges against him as “absolutely ridiculous”; that the debris stored on his property was swept into the Coginchaug River by the Spring freshet. The source of the debris according to news accounts is another building owned by Mr. Sweet in the city’s North End which collapsed under the weight of snow last winter; the wreckage was subsequently hauled to the Savage Arms site. Mr. Sweet has not responded to the complaint; the 30 day period for doing so expired on June 9. In response to questions Sweet said the lumber was cleaned up and “There’s no story here, It’s over.”

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, an important watchdog and steward of the Coginchaug River, is monitoring the situation according to Executive Director John Hall.


In the photo map above we see the Coginchaug River as a dark ribbon winding from lower right to upper right. At top (green arrow) is the property at 398 Boston Road where some of the debris washed ashore according to owner Al Maine. The red marker near the bottom is the location of the Savage Arms property on Middlefield Street upriver from the Boston Road property. Directly below that red marker is where the debris must have entered the river as this area is just below the Savage Mill Dam slightly to the right.

Savage Revolving Fire Arms Company (c 1860)

This is the historic building at 465 Middlefield Street owned by Richard Sweet where the river dumping allegedly ocurred.

This close up shows demolition debris sticking out of the river bank at Richard Sweet's property, 465 Middlefield Road. It does not appear that this situation occurred accidentally or overnight. Credit John Hall

Finally there is this view of the Coginchaug River as it cascades over the Savage Mill Dam just behind the property above. The falling water here provided the motive power for the factory in the mid 19th century.

Savage Mill Dam

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Connecticut and Mattabesset River Paddle-June 18

June 6, 2011

Bill Yule, Naturalist at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, will be our educator on this paddle. We will stop for commentary and questions at Wilcox Island, the confluence of the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, the open water of the Boggy Meadows, the proposed site of Middletown’s kayak launch, and at a sandy beach on the Coginchaug. Bill spent many hours paddling and exploring this area as a child, so he has observed its character and changes over a number of decades.

Paddlers need to provide their own boats, life jackets, paddles, drinking water, and snacks. Advance registration is not necessary, and there is no charge for the event. You may call 860-398-3771 for more information or in case of possible cancellation due to weather.

Reposted from The Jonah Center for Earth and Art

Birds in the Winter

January 19, 2011

Unlike veteran field birder and blogger Brownstone Birder I don’t feel comfortable with field I.D. of many smaller birds. However, this year’s harsh Winter season has provided many occasions to view birds at close range at my feeders. I have managed to photograph birds that I have seldom, or perhaps never, seen in field and wood. Attached herein are several photographs of birds seen through my back window here in Middletown. (Note: a loss of image clarity is the inevitable result of shooting through window panes; oh, and please correct me if I have misidentified any bird) (All photos: click to enlarge)

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Carolina Wren

Song Sparrow

Mourning Dove

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Educational Paddle-Connecticut R & Boggy Meadows-Sat June 5

May 31, 2010

Jonah Center News

Educational Paddle

Saturday, June 5,

Launch time: at 9 a.m from Harbor Park near the boathouses.

Leader-Contact person: Beth Emery, ctladycyclist@gmail.com

Be part of the CT Trails Day Celebration and have a paddle! This event, co-hosted by the CT Forest and Park Association and The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, will take place in the lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, as well as the Boggy Meadows where those two rivers converge. The tour departs from Harbor Park on the CT river in Middletown, Sat. June 5 at 9 a.m. Paddlers will return to the starting point between 12 and 1 p.m. Conditions permitting there will be 2 stops along a river bank. Paddlers need to provide their own boat, paddle, lifejacket, drinking water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing.

River historian and environmental journalist Erik Hesselberg will provide us with a historical overview of how these rivers have been used, traveled and misused over the years. Trip participants will be encouraged to pick up plastic bottles, cans, and other debris as part of the Jonah Center’s ongoing effort to beautify and protect our local waterways.

This event is free and advance registration is not necessary. CT Forest and Parks requires that you sign a waiver form to participate.  Call (860) 984-6178 for more information or to learn about a possible last minute cancellation due to weather conditions or river waters above flood stage.

In the Mattabesset River,August 2008

Here we head upriver towards the two bridges

Climate of Extremes: Patrick J. Michaels

May 9, 2009

Patrick J. Michaels: Cato Institute

Patrick J. Michaels: Cato Institute

This article appeared in National Review Online’s Planet Gore page (Jan 30, 2009)

Al Gore’s Climate of Extremes [Patrick J. Michaels]

Ho-hum. On January 28, in the midst of a pelting sleet storm, Al Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the end is nigh from global warming.

He told the Senate that “some scientists” predict up to 11 degrees of warming in the next 91 years (while failing to note that the last 12 have seen exactly none), and that this would “bring a screeching halt to human civilization and threaten the fiber of life everywhere on earth.” Hey folks, this is serious!

Besides having a remarkable knack for scheduling big speeches on remarkably cold or snowy days (it’s known as the “Gore Effect” in journalistic circles), Gore has been incredibly ineffective in bringing his message home.

According to the New York Times, Gore told the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last November, “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly. . . . [T]here is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency [about global warming]. This is an existential threat.”

And fail he has. The Pew Foundation recently asked Americans to choose which of 20 prominent issues is of most importance. They included the economy, crime, education, and, of course, global warming, which came in dead last….(read the rest here)

The video above is part 1 of 3 (be sure to watch all three parts) in which scientist Patrick J. Michaels is interviewed by Jon Caldara, president of The Independence Institute, a Colorado think tank. Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling, Jr. are the authors of Climate of Extremes, published by The Cato Institute in Jan 2009. Patrick J. Michaels is Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at The Cato Institute in Washington D.C. Michaels is a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and visiting scientist with the Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. Michaels is a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change….

In the Preface to Climate of Extremes former Virginia State Climatologist Michaels describes how he and other state climatologists were stripped of their titles, and jobs, and told by their governors to “shut up” about the global warming hoax. Something about, in the case of Oregon’s Climatologist, contradictions interfering “with the state’s stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases.’’

Continuing from the Preface:

David Legates, at the University of Delaware, was told by Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) that he could no longer speakon globalwarming as State Climatologist. His faculty position is a regular tenured line in the geography department. He’s free, as State Climatologist, to say anything about the weather, so long as there’s no political implication…..

Out West, things got even uglier. The Assistant State Climatologist for Washington, Mark Albright, was fired because, despite his boss’s orders, he refused to stop e-mailing—to journalists, to inquiringcitizens, to anyone—the entire snowfall record for the Cascade Mountainsrather than the cherry-picked one. For e-mailing that record,the assistant state climatologist in Washington lost his job.What had started with Oregon’s George Taylor had migratedacross the Columbia River.

For a further account of these shenanigans see NBC & Global Warming Jihad

Patrick J. Michaels and Joh Caldara

Patrick J. Michaels and Jon Caldara

For some comic relief listen to Paul Shanklin as Algore singing “Ball of Fire” (courtesy Rush Limbaugh show:

Carbon Dioxide NOT a Pollutant! ‘Tis Necessary for All Life

May 4, 2009

Science has now proven the following very important points:

  • CO2 is definitely not a pollutant. It is a friendly trace gas necessary for all life.
  • Human-produced CO2 is a miniscule fraction of a percentage of greenhouse gases.
  • 96.5% of all greenhouse gases emit from the oceans, naturally.
  • Without CO2, vegetation dies, herbivores die, you die.
  • CO2 levels used to be much higher many times in the past.
  • Higher temperatures from the sun result in CO2 levels rising long afterwards.
  • Rising CO2 is an effect of global warming, not a cause.
  • Global warming and cooling is a natural phenomenon.
  • The higher the CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the greener our planet becomes.
  • Forests and plant life growth has increased by approx 40% over the last 50 years, thanks to CO2.
  • Increasing CO2 yields larger food crops. This is beneficial to a growing population.
  • The Earth is not currently warming, it is in fact cooling.
  • Temperatures in the past have often been much warmer than today.
  • Even if it were to happen, a warmer Earth is far better than a colder one, for all life.
  • Many scientists believe we are on the brink of another ice age.
  • When the planet warms and cools it is purely due to the sun. Not your car.
  • Polar ice is now at record levels and still growing.
  • Climate changes happen all the time, and have occurred much faster than anything in modern times.
  • There has been no increase in extreme weather. In fact, records show the exact opposite.

Read the whole article at I Love Carbon Dioxide

Also see Michell Malkin, June 2008: In Praise of Carbon Dioxide
Here is a You Tube interview with Ann McElhinney, producer and director of “Not Evil Just Wrong”, a feature length documentary now in release:

CO 2 NOT a Pollutant

Birds Poisoned by USDA Litter New Jersey Town

January 27, 2009

European Starlings by the thousands, according to some reports, fell from the sky over one New Jersey community after being poisoned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Starlings are an introduced and well established species across the United States. Apparently, as non-native birds, they are not protected and can be considered, as in this case, pests. Starlings, and other black birds, congregate in huge flocks at this time of year and frequently descend in droves to lucrative feeding spots on farms and feed lots. Health and agriculture authorities say that is when the birds can contaminate and consume animal fodder. Other native blackbirds often congregate with the starling flocks and one would expect they would be victims of this culling as well. So far, the reports seem to be only about dead starlings. The Bergen Record reports:

Last night, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the dead birds were part of a USDA program to reduce the European starling population. Donna Leusner said the state health department was not part of the culling program but had been notified of plans to feed the birds a “controlled substance.”

From the Associated Press via Fox News:

FRANKLIN, N.J. —  The black carcasses of dead starlings still pepper the snowy roads and lawns of central New Jersey’s rural Griggstown community three days after federal officials used a pesticide to kill as many as 5,000 of the birds.

Many residents Monday were still getting over their shock from the sudden spate of deaths. Some were unaware that the deaths resulted from an intentional culling and that the pesticide used was harmless to people and pets.

“It was raining birds,” said Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine. “It got people a little anxious.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture called local police last week and the Somerset County Health Department to warn them that a culling program was under way, but there was no notice that dead birds could fall from the sky, Levine said.

“A lot of us are concerned because it’s so odd,” said Chris Jiamboi, 49, as his vehicle idled along a stretch of road in Griggstown marked with the flattened remains of dead starlings. “There were a lot of them dead in the roads and no one drives fast enough around here to kill a bird. Then they started showing up dead in people’s backyards.”

All about European Starlings: (excerpt)

All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds released in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. A group dedicated to introducing America to all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works set the birds free. Today, European Starlings range from Alaska to Florida and northern Mexico, and their population is estimated at over 200 million birds.

European Starling

European Starling

Middletown Environment Meetings This Week..

December 8, 2008

Item – Tuesday, December 9, 7 p.m.
At First Church of Christ, 190 Court St. in Middletown

Roger Smith, Coordinator of the Connecticut Climate Coalition and Campaign Director of Clean Water Action will tell us what is coming up in the January 2009 session of the Connecticut Legislature to improve home energy efficiency and address global warming. In what will certainly be another tough budget year, citizen action will be critical in order to pass progressive energy-related legislation and help consumers hurt by high fossil fuel prices

Item –

Attend the Public Hearing on

Middletown’s Plan of Development and Conservation

Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers

v Protecting Natural Resources & Preserving Rural Character

v Maromas: Middletown’s Last Frontier

v Protecting Water Quality

Middletown is in the process of updating its Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). This is an important document that will help guide the City’s decision-making on planning for the next decade or more. Citizen support for these chapters will send a message to the commission and city officials that we care about our environment.

Your attendance alone will demonstrate your support for these sections of the updated plan and your interest in protecting Middletown’s natural environment.

Drafts of the chapters are available on the City’s Planning Department website at http://www.middletownplanning.com/pocd/pocdupdate.html

Source: The Jonah Center

There’s a new bridge in town. To provide access to the new CVS store on Washington Street it was necessary to bridge the Coginchaug River at West Street. Yikes!

New Coginchaug Bridge at West St

New Coginchaug Bridge at West St

Global Warming News, Or is It Cooling?

November 30, 2008

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art will be hosting a public meeting Tuesday evening Dec 9, 2008, at 7PM in the Memorial Room at First Church, 190 Court St, Middletown. The subject: “What You Can Do About Global Warming and Energy Policy in Connecticut“. The speaker:

Roger Smith, Coordinator of the Connecticut Climate Coalition and Campaign Director of Clean Water Action will tell us what energy- and climate-related legislation is coming up in the January 2009 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. Roger has a wealth of information and experience in this area.

In what will certainly be another tough budget year, citizen action will be critical in order to pass progressive energy-related legislation and help consumers hurt by high fossil fuel prices. This is your opportunity to help shape our energy future and slow global warming.

A slight shift of gears is called for here as we mention one of our favorite bloggers on the subject of climate change; Gateway Pundit. Their post today presents a huge array of sources and stats that gives credence to the notion that the earth is cooling not warming. Read about it here…..

Of course cooling has been mentioned before; remember Newsweek from April 25, 1975? (PDF)

Finally, we couldn’t resist….

Global Warming or Cooling?



Farmer's Almanac Says It's Global Cooling

Farmer's Almanac Says It's Global Cooling


Old Farmer’s Almanac Latest Prediction for 2009 and beyond (video)

Leaving Seattle….

September 28, 2008

I’ve enjoyed a wonderful ten days in Seattle; fact is all of my time here was spent wholly within the city. Only tomorrow, for the first time, I am going out of town for a visit to Snoqualmie Falls of “Twin Peaks” fame. I’ll be back in Connecticut Monday morning. Some photos I made today are attached. Today was an exceptionally good day to view Seattle and the mountains including, of course, Ranier.