Another Native Tree Threatened

Dark green striping or other discoloration between veins of beech leaves indicates disease.

By Jane Harris

Although Beech Leaf Disease has been observed in the U.S. since 2012, little as yet is known about the spread of the disease, and a cure is still to be found.  While it is most often seen on younger forest trees, it can spread to, and kill, ornamental European beeches, including the enormous purple and copper beeches seen in of large estates and cemeteries. Typically, the first sign of the disease is in the form of thinning leaf canopies.

While it is known to spread via a nematode, the way that the nematode infects the trees is not well understood.

Beeches have suffered for some time from Beech Bark Disease, and trees already weakened by one disease will be more susceptible to the other. More information is contained here, including diagnostic photos of infected leaves.

Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route Update

The Jonah Center’s most far-reaching project — to connect the 2 longest multi-use trails in Connecticut — has been awarded 2 grants: a $315,000 route study grant by CT DOT this past February; and a $500,000 grant by the state bond commission in April. The bond commission grant will allow preliminary design work to be done on at least some sections of the connector route. We are well on our way to making the connector route a reality for regional bicyclists.  Continue reading

The Future of Pameacha Pond

Photo credit: Mary-Ellen Sutton

What will happen to Pameacha Pond? 4 years have passed since Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the city of Middletown signed a consent order in August 2018 requiring the relocation of a main sanitary sewer line from the dam’s discharge culvert and the repair of the Pameacha dam.  For decades, DEEP had expressed concern about deterioration of the dam, but when another break (like numerous previous ones) in the sewer line in June 2018 resulted in the discharge of raw sewage into Long Hill Brook, DEEP required the city to take certain steps leading to the repair of the dam.    Continue reading

Source To Sea Cleanup On River Road

On September 24,  35 hard-working volunteers removed many bags of trash, a mattress, 5 tires, several coolers, discarding clothing, and many other items from River Road and the shore of the Connecticut River near the decommissioned sewage treatment plant. Shown here is about ½ of the total of the Jonah Center’s haul. Continue reading

Route 9 Middletown-Cromwell Multi-use Connector Trail

The proposed connector trail is indicated by the yellow line. The Arrigoni Bridge is at the bottom.

Let’s make it possible to bicycle or walk safely from downtown Middletown to Main Street in Cromwell via a multi-use trail constructed on the existing access road the lies parallel to Route 9, between the highway and the railroad tracks.

Here’s the background: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 21-03, signed on December 16, 2021, lists actions to be taken by CT State agencies to achieve the goals of the Governor’s Climate Change Coalition (GC3).  Among them was this item:

DOT shall set a 2030 vehicle miles traveled reduction target and develop a plan of investments to contribute to and encourage the achievement of such targeted reductions. Continue reading

Pecausett Pond Mega-Pull

Photo credit, Anne-Marie Cannata McEwen

In spite of a heavy downpour that ended just 30 minutes before the scheduled launch time of 5 p.m. on August 17, 41 paddlers showed up to save Pecausett Pond in Portland from a serious infestation of water chestnut. Our goal was to remove several large, dense patches and many isolated plants before their nuts dropped.  Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aquatic invasive plant imported from Asia in the 1880s.  Once established, the plants can cover freshwater ponds and river coves, cutting off sunlight and oxygen that fish require. Continue reading

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Energy prices are rising, as our readers have probably noticed.  The Jonah Center urges our readers to take advantage of the State’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program, and other low-cost, high-return opportunities to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. This program, subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, reduces home utility costs, on average, by $200 per year. The co-pay for HES is $50, and $0 for income-eligible residents (up to 60% of the state’s median income level). Your home will have air leaks sealed, energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads installed, and insulation evaluated. Those who take advantage of HES services will learn about low cost, subsidized insulation options.  Visit EnergizeCT or call 877-947-3873 to get started.

Who’s Walking In Portland

Cora Chenier is a proud and happy walker.

The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone, but especially on elementary school children. It’s an age of rapid development – intellectual, social, and emotional. When students had 3 days per week of “virtual” classes from home, learning was limited. Children’s development was restricted just when it needed stimulation through adventure, growing independence, and socializing with classmates. Continue reading

Traffic Calming in Portland

First Selectman Ryan Curley was the first to sign the Pace Car Pledge.

By Amanda Foley

Portland’s Complete Streets Group (CSG) invites Portland residents to participate in the Pace Car program by signing a pledge to drive safely, courteously, within the speed limit, and to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. A Hartford Courant article published on 3-19-22 stated that the number of pedestrians struck and killed by cars on Connecticut roads has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Factors cited include speeding and distracted driving. Portland Complete Streets Group has introduced this Pace Car program as a traffic calming initiative to address these factors. Continue reading

Close Lyceum Road & Protect Wildlife Habitat

This article (not including the update at the end) originally appeared on June 9 in the Middletown Press.

Lyceum Road in May 2022. Photo credit Jon Morris.

Over the past winter (2021-22) Middletown’s Department of Public Works proposed to close Lyceum Road, a 3/10-mile road south of Randolph Road, between Millbrook and Chamberlain Hill Roads. It crosses Sumner Brook (below) and its surrounding floodplain. For years, the road has been in chronically poor condition due to its low elevation and frequent flooding. Continue reading

Dams of Middletown — Past & Present

A Jonah Center tour of local dams included the remains of Middletown’s first dam on Pameacha Brook near Sumner Brook. Photo credit: Trevor Davis

MIddletown’s First Dam (Stroud’s Dam) at an earlier, unknown date.

Recently, discussions about the removal of several dams from Middletown waterways have arisen. The primary reasons for dam removal are 1) to allow fish migration 2) to prevent flooding upstream from the dams, and 3) because several dams are in danger of failing.  The dams in question now are along the Sumner Brook watershed and Sawmill Brook (west of Route 91).

Back in 2013, Wesleyan Professor Elise Springer (then a Jonah Center board member) developed a survey and map of Middletown’s dams and their history. A significant factor in Middletown’s development in the 17th and 18th centuries was the availability of water power for grist mills, saw mills, and manufacturing.  View Professor Springer’s website Dams of Middletown, Connecticut — Past and Present Dams.