Paddle Schedule for 2024

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Our “Paddle With A Purpose” schedule for 2024 has been set.  We need lots of volunteers to remove as many water chestnut plants as possible between June 1 and late July.

Please use the Paddle Registration Form to register for any of the events listed (see below the “continue reading” hyperlink). By registering, you will receive last-minute news on changes of plans due to weather or other factors. Note: The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) has a limited number of loaner kayaks but you need to reserve one at least several days in advance.

CRC also leads similar paddles to remove water chestnut plants in Glastonbury and sometimes other locations. You can view and register for those through the CRC website here.

Jonah Center Paddles in the “Floating Meadows” in Middletown will launch from the boat launch at 181 Johnson Street.  Paddles in Pecausett Pond in Portland launch from Portland Boat Works at 1 Grove Street.

Sat. June 1 @ 9 a.m. — Floating Meadows in Middletown

Mon. June 10 @ 6 p.m. — Floating Meadows or Pecausett Pond in Portland (TBD)

Sat. June 15 @ 9 a.m. — Floating Meadows in Middletown

Tues. June 25 @ 6 p.m. — Floating Meadows or Pecausett Pond in Portland (TBD)

Sat. June 29 @ 9 a.m. — Floating Meadows in Middletown

Sat. July 13 @ 9 a.m. — Mega-pull in Floating Meadows, followed by Pizza Party

Tues. July 23 @ 5 p.m. — Pecausett Pond in Portland

Sat. July 27 @ 9 a.m. — Floating Meadows in Middletown

Central CT Loop Trail Public Workshop — Monday, June 10

We urge the public to attend a special workshop on the route study for the Central CT Loop Trail segment from Portland to Cheshire, conducted by engineering firm VHB. The event will be held in the Council Chambers of Middletown’s City Hall on Monday, June 10, 7 – 8:30 p.m., beginning with a formal presentation and followed by questions and comments from the public. Continue reading

Vernal Pool & Wood Frog Video by Phil LeMontagne

Deep in the forest, hidden in the confines of a thick Laurel grove near the Bear Hill Loop Trail in the Maromas section of Middletown, a silent vernal pool waits for the oncoming spring.  Sometimes spring comes late, sometimes early. This year it was especially early. When the weather is right, after a warm rainy 50 degree night, Wood Frogs will leave their shelters to congregate at vernal pools where they raucously compete for mates.  Wood Frogs are “vernal pool obligates”, which means that a vernal pool is the only place where they can reproduce.  The following video gives a peek into a short, but very busy period of time in the life cycle of a Wood Frog.

(Click on the image below to play.)

The Solar Eclipse on April 8

This image shows the path of the eclipse over northern New England.

The moon’s shadow will pass over northern Vermont at a speed of 2600 mph. The total eclipse in Burlington will last approximately 3 minutes and 15 seconds, starting at 3:26 p.m.  That doesn’t sound like much time, but those who have witnessed previous total eclipse say it is not to be missed.

The Vermont State Park website lists a number of parks that will be open for eclipse viewing. Driving time from Middletown to northern Vermont is approximately 4 hours, but make allowances for possibly heavy traffic.  A detailed map showing the path of the eclipse can be viewed here.

Near darkness will come quickly, accompanied by changes in the sounds made by birds and crickets (if one is in an otherwise quiet place) and the dramatic light effects of the corona. Viewers need to wear ISO 12312-2 rated sunglasses (which can be purchased online) until the eclipse is total.

Public Workshops on Route 9 Traffic Signal Removal

By John Hall

The article below was posted before the Feb. 21 & 22 workshop sessions.  Since then, we have learned that there will be a follow-up workshop and presentation at Wesleyan University on April 30.  The exact time and campus location of that event have not been announced, but we will add those details to this post when they become available.  Continue reading

Traffic Cameras Survey

traffic camera

Please let us know your thoughts about the use of “automated traffic enforcement safety devices” (i.e. cameras) to reduce deaths and serious injuries of pedestrians and bicyclists. (Read the article “How To Reduce Speeding” posted earlier on our website.)  If you support such use, please add your name, street address, and town to a petition to the governing body of your town of residence (especially Middletown and Portland) requesting the adoption of a local ordinance that would permit the use of these devices in limited, prescribed locations.

Continue reading

Herbicide Treatment of Water Chestnut

The proliferation of invasive plants such as water chestnut and hydrilla in the Connecticut River, its tributaries, and local ponds has led to more common use of EPA-approved herbicides by government agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Paddlers work on a thick mat of water chestnut plants. If we can pull out the plants, the challenge becomes how to carry them, and then where to dispose of them.

The Jonah Center has asked these agencies, and others, for advice on how best to manage the water chestnut infestation in the Mattabesset River (Floating Meadows). The message we have heard is consistent. Hand-pulling is best where it is feasible. But there are some shallow areas with dense, stubborn infestations where hand-pulling by paddlers is not effective. Such areas represent a small percentage of the total surface area, but the seeds from these remote patches keep germinating in deeper areas, producing more patches that hand-pullers face each year. Every year, the seed bank in these coves and creeks grows. Continue reading

$3 Million Awarded to Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route

The Jonah Center’s most far-reaching project — to connect the 2 longest multi-use trails in Connecticut — has been awarded 3 grants: a $315,000 route study grant by CT DOT in February 2022; a $500,000 grant by the state bond commission in April 2022; and a $2 million grant by the bond commission in October 2023. We thank Senator Matt Lesser whose leadership and advocacy has enabled this progress and funding. (Please note that none of these funds pass through or benefit the Jonah Center.) These grants will allow the project to proceed from route study (which is now underway) to design and construction work. The most recent $2 million grant is intended to be used as state & local matching funds for $8 million in federal transportation funds to be applied for in the future. In short, we are well on our way to making the connector route a reality. Continue reading

How To Reduce Speeding?

Everyone knows that the “speeding problem” on local roads has gotten worse in recent years.  Add to that “distracted driving” (using one’s phone, texting, checking social media, etc. while behind the wheel), intoxicated drivers (from alcohol, cannabis, etc.) and pedestrians who are also distracted or intoxicated. Finally, the height and weight of vehicles has increased over the years, raising the rate at which crashes result in serious injuries and fatalities. All of this means that our streets and highways have become more dangerous. There is widespread outrage among the public at the lack of speed limit enforcement. Continue reading