Saying the changes will harm the environment, officials with a prominent New Canaan nonprofit organization are voicing concerns about a proposal to raise the height of a dam in the Silvermine River and construct berms and walls along its bank. The First Taxing District of Norwalk’s plans for the Grupes Reservoir Dam off of upper Valley Road will result in the permanent clearing of more than 400 native trees and shrubs that comprise important riverbank habitat, according to the New Canaan Land Trust.
The proposed barrier of berms and walls also will disconnect wetlands and streams from the reservoir at the Land Trust’s abutting 10.3-acre Browne Sanctuary, Land Trust Executive Director Aaron Lefland said. The Land Trust is joining the Norwalk River Watershed Association in petitioning the application and urging the public to participate in a Sept. 29 hearing. “We feel pretty strongly that the application the Norwalk Taxing District submitted to DEEP [state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] is incomplete and does not address any impacts of the project,” Lefland told NewCanaanite.com.
“Of the 600-page application, two [pages] talk about impacts on vegetation and all they talk about is vegetation downstream of the dam, whereas all we are concerned about is upstream,” he said.
For today’s Q&A with a local organization, we hear from Aaron Lefland, executive director of the New Canaan Land Trust.
Here’s our exchange. New Canaanite: The Land Trust closed and then reopened its walking trails. What has the feedback from trail-goers been since the reopening? Aaron Lefland: Our members and visitors were very understanding about the trail closures, and like us, were happy to see the trails re-opened after the brief closure. Since the health crisis began, we’ve seen a significant uptick in visitation to all of our properties, and are thrilled that so many people are exploring the special places that the Land Trust has worked to protect.
Town officials on Sunday reopened New Canaan parks strictly for use of walking trails. Though park visitors may drive into places such as Waveny and Irwin, activities other than trail-walking—such as use of fields and playgrounds—are not permitted, with the sole exception of picking up to-go food from Mead Park Lodge, according to Emergency Management Director Mike Handler. “We trust that residents will use common sense and maintain proper social distancing,” Handler said in Saturday’s town-wide outcall. “If possible, we suggest that you wear a face covering. Again, this is just a suggestion and we leave it up to you to decide what is appropriate given your activity. We hope this reduces some of the congestion on our roadways.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan closed New Canaan parks March 30. Since then, New Canaan has lost an additional 17 people to COVID-19 virus, bringing the town’s total to 21.
A large crowd gathered Thursday evening to witness the release of two rehabilitated red foxes on a New Canaan Land Trust nature preserve off of Davenport Ridge Road. The young foxes, one male and one female, had been orphaned earlier this year, according to Dara Reid, director of Wildlife in Crisis, a Weston-based nonprofit organization that has been caring for the pair. “Both families were killed,” Reid said from the Colhoun Preserve, a 21-acre parcel acquired by the Land Trust in 1974. “One by cars and one by rodenticide—rat and mouse poison.”
Now about six months old, the foxes were in “very poor” condition when they were brought in, Reid said. “We had to give them fluids and a lot of rest when they first came to us but they have fully recovered and grown at this point,” she said.
When the cages were opened in a clearing away from the road, one of the foxes was eager for freedom, hesitating only momentarily before bounding into the bushes.
Of all the ways to protect ourselves against Lyme disease, planting “this” instead of “that” isn’t usually part of the conversation. And yet, knowing which plants attract disease-carrying ticks can make a difference. Japanese barberry, a non-native ornamental shrub that’s popular for its deer resistance, became established on New England’s post-agricultural lands in the early 1900s. It has invaded our forests, stifling native tree and wildflower regeneration and altering soil chemistry. Extensive research has revealed there is a link between Japanese barberry infestations and blacklegged (aka “deer”) ticks and the causal agent of Lyme disease with which they are infected.