To purchase tickets to the Forest & Garden Party on July 14, please use the orange DONATE button on the left to make your payment of $10 per person. Indicate “July 14 Party” in the form. Space is limited to 45. Once you payment is received, we will contact you with the address and directions. Thank you.
On Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, paddlers will return to the Floating Meadows to remove emerging water chestnut plants. This invasive species endangers our local freshwater marshland. Since plants are still small at this early stage in the season, removing them now saves much labor later in the summer. The Jonah Center is grateful to the Connecticut River Conservancy for staffing this work party and covering the event with their insurance policy. All participants will need to sign CRC’s liability waivers and paddle at their own risk. The starting point is the canoe and kayak launch at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown. For information on possible last minute cancellation, check back on this post or call 860-398-3771.
New This Year: At the Jonah Center’s request, the City of Middletown has installed a port-a-potty at the boat launch for the entire summer paddling season! The Public Works Department has also improved the facility in other ways you will notice. Thank you Director Russo and Middletown’s Department of Public Works.
On May 29, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, hundreds of citizens showed up to protest the FY2019 budget which did not contain funding for the Environmental Specialist and Arts Coordinator positions. The arts community was represented by numerous adults who were nurtured by the Summer Circus program, including a young woman named Jasmine who entered the Council Chambers on tall “giraffe stilts.” She had to duck to get through the door, and the camera needed to move up to capture her head and face. The testimonies were eloquent and passionate.
In the end, the Council voted 7-3 to sustain the Mayor’s veto of the relevant line items. 8 votes were needed to override the veto. But the struggle is not over. The positions still need to be evaluated, and refilled.
The Jonah Center and members of the environmental community remain concerned about the future of the Department of Planning, Conservation, and Development, which has 2 vacant positions and is struggling to complete urgent, necessary work.
To: Members of the Common Council
I am writing to you with great concern that the Planning & Environmental Specialist position in the Dept. of Planning, Conservation, and Development may not be funded in FY2019. I understand the revenue/expense/general fund balance situation that the City faces, but eliminating the ES position would be a serious additional setback to a PCD Department that has already been damaged and has functioned very poorly over the past few years. More important, given the services and grant receipts that come with the P&ES position, eliminating this position would be financially detrimental in the long run. Continue reading
The Jonah Center’s efforts to protect Snapping Turtles from commercial trapping was successful. The campaign began in 2012 and faced many discouraging moments along the way, but now we rejoice in victory for the ancient and majestic snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina
Our primary turtle advocate, Barrie Robbins-Pianka (who took all of the photos above) deserves major credit for the inspiration and investigative work behind the campaign. State Representative Matt Lesser was our legislative advocate. Wesleyan Professor Barry Chernoff provided scientific testimony. Many of you, Jonah Center advocates, sent emails and made phone calls to members and leaders of the legislature across the state. All of this finally added up to critical mass and so, at last, our state will protect snapping turtles from commercial trade. Governor Malloy has signed the bill into law.
To read one of the most compelling and informative testimonies sent to legislators (from Tim Walsh of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich), click here.
The following testimony by Tim Walsh of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich not only helped our legislative effort to protect snapping turtles, but it serves as a good summary of the science of the issue. Turtles still need protection. This bill only offers protection from commercial trapping. Habitat loss and resulting highway mortality are still threats to the majestic Snapping Turtle.
I am one of a group of citizens who have been urging legislation to protect snapping turtles from commercial trapping since 2012. This year, HB5354, A Bill Concerning Snapping Turtles and Red-Eared Slider Turtles, passed the Environment Committee 19-0, and an amended version of it passed the House of Representatives 141-0.
Please accept this letter as support for a cessation of legal harvest for the common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina in the State of Connecticut. Turtles are ancient creatures that walked the earth with the dinosaurs and today are important and visible elements in many ecosystems. Many species play key ecological roles, serving as both predators and prey, contributing to the cycling of nutrients, and acting as seed dispersers. Currently, turtles are the 2nd most endangered vertebrate group in the world. Approximately, 53% of the world’s species are threatened with extinction. We are not talking about just an endangered genus or species of animal, but an entire family. The decline of turtle species throughout their range is being fueled by habitat loss and modification, highway-related traffic mortality, and collection for the pet trade and human consumption. Continue reading
For the first time, a bill protecting Common Snapping Turtles from commercial trapping in Connecticut has passed in the CT General Assembly’s Environment Committee. The vote tally was 29-0. In previous years, we could not even get a vote for Snapping Turtles in the committee. This bill also addresses commercial trade of Red-Eared Slider Turtles.
Now we need citizens to email their State Rep to bring attention to this bill. Below is a sample message that you can cut and paste. Additional talking points and Reps’ email addresses are further down this post. Please “Bcc:” John Hall so we know you took action. Continue reading
The Jonah Center and various partners are promoting exciting, long term projects that will make a huge difference for bicyclists and walkers in our area. Completing such projects requires public awareness and support at many points along the way. Click on the links to view maps. At the bottom of this post, see how you can speak out in favor of these improvements.
The Long Lane Multi-Use Trail has been designed as a 1.4 mile, 10’ paved walking and bicycling trail from the Long Hill Road soccer fields to a point on Pine Street just south of Wesleyan University. The Jonah Center was designated the “Project Advocate” in 2011, and the trail was funded by a federal grant that year. After many route complications were resolved, the project will go “out to bid” soon for construction in 2018. The “final” route (we hope) may be viewed here: Long Lane Multi-Use Trail Route
The Landfill Trail is a hiking path on the North End Peninsula (site of Middletown’s retired landfill adjacent to the recycling center.) Funded by a CT Recreational Trails Grant, the trail will begin at the kayak and canoe launch (at 181 Johnson Street) and circle the base of the landfill, with a spur leading to the top of the landfill mound. From the top, hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the Floating Meadows. Landfill Trail 2017
The Newfield Corridor Trail will connect the Mattabesset Bike Trail in the Westfield section of Middletown to the downtown area. This project has been funded through Middletown’s 2016 Parks Bond. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee are pushing to begin route definition and design. View the map here: Newfield Area Bikeway Layout
Connecting the new (under construction) Air Line Trail in Portland to downtown Portland, the Arrigoni Bridge, and Middletown. This project is led by the Portland Air Line Trail Steering Committee with support from Portland’s Complete Streets Group and the Jonah Center. Phase 2 of the trail includes property that is currently privately owned. Some property owners have indicated a willingness to negotiate trail access while others have not or need further negotiation. Alternative routes are also being considered. View a map of the current “Phase 1” trail route and possible routes for “Phase 2” here: Portland Air Line Trail Map.
The Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route will utilize Newfield Corridor Trail, Mattabesset Bike Trail, Quinnipiac Gorge Trail in Meriden, and other still-unnamed segments. Completing this envisioned 18 mile route from Portland to Cheshire will allow safe bicycle travel all the way from New Haven to Willimantic via Cheshire, Meriden, Middletown, and Portland. It will also provide an alternate route of the East Coast Greenway and a 125-mile loop trail around the greater Hartford area once the main East Coast Greenway route is completed. This project was initiated by the Jonah Center with support from the Lower CT River Council of Governments, engaging elected officials, staff, and volunteers from Portland, Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire. View map here: ALT to FCT Connector Route
Middletown’s new Bike Route Master Plan sets the stage for signage, share-the-road pavement markings, and bike lanes. The plan focuses on connecting surrounding communities to downtown Middletown and facilitating safe bicycling within the downtown area. Implementation of this plan, produced and promoted by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee, will be a key step in qualifying Middletown as a bike-friendly city. View the plan here: Bike Route & Trails Plan 2017
To show your support for any or all of these projects, sign the Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes petition. Or, to speed up the process, you may skip the petition and go straight to the questionnaire where you can tell us which projects interest you and how you can help. When citizen support is most needed, you will receive a “call to action” explaining in more detail how you can express your support for a particular project.
SPEAK OUT FOR TRAILS & BIKE ROUTES PETITION
Speak Out For Trails and Bike RoutesRead the petition
The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snowshoeing expedition at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Saturday, February 17th with an alternative date of Saturday, February 24th. If there is no snow, a conventional hike will go forward on the 17th. The hike will begin around 9:30 at the intersection of Coleman Road and Round Hill Road – at the parking lot across from the T-intersection with Coleman Road.
If the weather is truly inclement — bitterly cold, heavily raining or seriously snowing — the ramble will be postponed until the 24th. Call 860-301-1980 for an update on the hiking plans. Continue reading
Easy to moderately difficult group hikes will take place on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Harbor Park & River Road led by Deb Stanley; Saturday March 10 at Long Hill Estate led by Beth Lapin, and Sunday, April 8 in Maromas, led by Beth Lapin. Hikes start at 10 a.m. Click here for more information.