20th Anniversary Forest & Garden Party

The Jonah Center Board invites you to help celebrate our 20th Anniversary at our Forest and Garden Party on Saturday, June 22 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM at the South Middletown home of Jon Morris and Pam Frost.

Over the past 14 years, they have transformed their thirty-acre property into a beautiful and inspiring model of sustainable living, with highly productive vegetable gardens, fruit trees, a woodlot that they harvest selectively and keep free of invasive plants, a solar-heated swimming pool, perennial borders, solar panels, and decorative use of stone and wood. Continue reading

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, 6:30  – 8:00 p.m., beginning with a formal presentation and followed by questions and comments from the public. Continue reading

Paddle Schedule for 2024

Featured

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: For Saturday morning paddles only, The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) has a limited number of loaner kayaks available, but you need to reserve one at least several days in advance. 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.

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

“Save As Your Throw”: A Concept Whose Time Has Come

by Krishna Winston

Currently president of the Jonah Center Board and chair of Middletown’s Resource Recycling Advisory Commission, Krishna Winston has been committed to environmental conservation since long before recycling became mandatory in the State of Connecticut in 1991. She served on the task force that designed Middletown’s first recycling program. In October of this year she spent sixteen hours going door to door on Middletown’s north side to inform residents about the new co-collection program beginning in November.

The Context

 Connecticut’s waste crisis became impossible to ignore once the MIRA trash-to-energy plant shut down in the summer of 2022, leaving 49 towns—representing about a third of the state’s trash—in the lurch. But the crisis has been in the making far longer. For decades the state DEP (now DEEP) has been setting targets for reducing waste, and time and again those targets have been missed. With more and more disposable and single-use items, along with packaging, much of it difficult or impossible to recycle, many residents’ trash carts are filled to overflowing. Because of contamination, single-stream recycling, originally intended to simplify and promote more recycling, has actually lowered the value of the material collected. To separate mixed recyclables into marketable commodities, material-recovery facilities (MRFs), like the one recently inaugurated by Murphy Road Recycling in Berlin’s industrial park, must be equipped with sophisticated and costly equipment imported from other countries. Whereas recycling once brought in some revenue, in recent years municipalities and hauling companies have been paying for recycling, and the cost keeps going up. Continue reading