NCHS Juniors, Pesticide-Free New Canaan Research Fellows: Highest Incidence of Pollutants Directly Downstream from Country Club Golf Course

Researchers say they’ve detected a higher incidence of pesticides in surface waters in New Canaan this year than last, mostly “downstream” of the Country Club of New Canaan’s golf course. Of the 28 different pesticides (four more than in 2013) detected by New Canaan High School juniors Connor deMayo and Paul Gelhaus—environmental research fellows with Pesticide-Free New Canaan, a nonprofit organization—more than 60 percent were found “directly after the golf course on Country Club Road,” deMayo said Tuesday during a presentation to the Board of Selectmen. “Coming into New Canaan, there are relatively few pesticides, and after the golf course there are really a lot of pesticides in the water,” he said during the meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. The reason is likely from “point source pollution” that flows into the Fivemile River, among other places, he said. Under the direction of Pesticice-Free co-founders Heather Lauver and Miki Porta, the teens this summer performed water sampling and lab and computer analyses, among other work, at 14 research sites in New Canaan—mostly along the Fivemile River.

Parks Officials: New Canaan’s Pesticide-Free Playing Fields Are Safe

Though some of New Canaan’s playing fields—specifically, those located on school grounds—may see more bare patches, ruts and uneven surfaces as a result of a pesticide ban, the fields themselves are safe, parks officials say. John Howe, parks superintendent with the New Canaan Department of Public Works, said it’s true that not using pesticides allows crabgrass and clover to grow, and leaves grubs to eat roots, meaning “the fields could be less safe.”

Yet “I do not feel we have any fields that are unsafe, whether they have pesticides or not,” Howe said during the regular Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday morning, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. The comments came as the board approved a total of about $47,000 for the purchase and application of grass treatment products for New Canaan’s athletic fields. State law prohibits the use of pesticides on school grounds from pre-K through eighth grade. New Canaan about five years ago, led by a subcommittee on the Town Council, extended the pesticide ban to include the high school.

Kiwanis Club of New Canaan Awards $16,000 to 25 Local Organizations

Six years ago, the Kiwanis Club of New Canaan—a nonprofit organization whose mission is “serving the children of the world”—doled out $1,800 to seven local recipient groups in line with its cause, with monies coming from established, though limited, events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. On Friday—thanks mostly to the more recent, very popular Zerbini Family Circus, which Kiwanis presents in conjunction with the New Canaan YMCA—Kiwanis was able to give nearly $16,000 to 25 organizations. According to 6-year Kiwanian David Hoyle, an attorney in town who helped host a gathering at the Y to mark the handing out of those funds, the circus “has really changed what we’re able to do.”

“We work really well with them and they do stuff that we can’t do and vice versa,” Hoyle said. “[YMCA Marketing Director] Kristina Barrett and [Kiwanian] Kathy Holland just do yeoman’s work.”
Local organizations receiving allocations include ABC House, CERT, Future 5, New Canaan Historical Society, Pesticide-Free New Canaan and Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

New Canaan Nature Center, Town, Businesses and Organizations Mark Earth Day 2014 [VIDEOS]



“Where have those flowers and butterflies all gone

That science may have staked the future on?”

—from Robert Frost’s “Pod of the Milkweed”


The migration of monarch butterflies through New Canaan—and everywhere else along the East Coast—is happening less frequently in recent years, to the point where some are calling the insects’ once widely anticipated journey between the Northeast/Canada and Mexico “endangered.”

The major reason, experts say, is a lack of milkweed, which monarch caterpillars feed on. “The butterflies can go to all kinds of flowers for nectar, but the caterpillars can only eat milkweed plants. They’re having a hard time with loss of bio-habitat, so we are encouraging people in town to plant these free milkweed seeds,” Susan Bergen, a volunteer for the New Canaan Garden Club, said Tuesday morning from a table inside New Canaan Library. There, she and Jen Rayher (nee Sillo, a 1994 New Canaan High School graduate), director of membership and volunteers at the New Canaan Nature Center, handed out the seeds (“Got Milkweed?” on the packet) to mark Earth Day here in town. It’s one of several initiatives and events planned by the Nature Center for the next week, which New Canaan’s highest elected official today declared “Environmental Awareness Week 2014Week” (see video below).