Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Inc.

Middletown office:
deKoven House Community Center
27 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Phone: 860-346-3282
Fax: 860-346-3284

Welcome to Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District
soil and water conservation since 1946

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is
to promote the sound use and management of natural resources in our 26-town area.

The District provides technical assistance and education in:

♦ soil and water conservation
♦ erosion and sedimentation control
♦ stormwater management
♦ watershed protection

 Our programs and services are provided to:   

♦ municipal staff and land use commissioners
♦ private residents
♦ agricultural producers
♦ the public
♦ the development community 

The Connecticut River Watch Program, a citizen monitoring program for the Connecticut River and tributaries, is one of the District's flagship programs.

The District receives financial support from municipal contributions, the State of Connecticut, an
annual native plant sale, state, federal and private grants, and private contributions.


New Location! 2018 Plant Sale to be held April 27-29 in Old Saybrook

The District's 27th Annual CT Native Plant and Seedling Sale will take place April 27-29 at Old Saybrook Shopping Center in Old Saybrook, CT (corner of Boston Post Road and Elm Street).  Our sale brochure is now available on our website (download PDF brochure), and copies will be sent in the mail in mid-February. Stay tuned for a new online ordering option!

While it may be hard to think about landscaping right now, winter is the perfect time to plan for a spring renewal of your yard! We will have an exciting assortment of CT native shrubs, ground covers, evergreen tree seedlings, flowering perennials, ferns, grasses, and culinary herbs to choose from in our 2018 sale. Offerings will include new plants, such as fragrant sumac, and favorite standbys, like winterberry, red chokeberry, and summersweet. Once again we will have expanded ground cover and perennials sections; two gardens in a box (bird and pollinators); and Collins Organic Compost.

Advance orders will be due by April 6, 2018, but we recommend ordering early for the best selection. Most plants are pre-ordered, but we will also have extra plants available on the days of the sale. To sign up for our mailing list, contact our office at (860) 346-3282 or


Just Eat It Screening on February 5 Draws Large Enthusiastic Crowd

There were just a few seats open in the theater for our recent screening of Just Eat It, about food waste and food rescue, which drew our largest crowd since the environmental film series began in 2015. Thanks to all for coming out!

The film does a great job illuminating the many steps along the way from farm to plate where food is wasted, as well as efforts being made to rescue some of it. At the same time it is quite entertaining as it documents the adventures of filmmakers and food lovers Jen Rustemeyer (Producer) and Grant Baldwin (Director/Editor/Composer) as they feed themselves rather well with food that would otherwise be thrown away.  It's hard to imagine just how much perfectly edible food is wasted, from produce left in the fields; produce harvested but rejected because it's not perfect; food culled from the shelves at grocery stores and sent to the landfill; large portions served at restaurants that diners can't finish; uneaten food from buffets and large functions; and food we've left in our fridge for too long that's no longer edible.  Thankfully, at least some of this food is rescued and provided to food pantries or soup kitchens, to feed animals on pig farms, and for composting and producing energy, also addressed in the film.

Following the film, many stayed for an informal discussion led by three people working to reduce food waste and rescue food at Wesleyan University and in the community. They included Michael Strumpf, Resident District Manager for the school's food service, Bon Appetit Management Company, which is known nationally for its efforts to reduce food waste, including through its Imperfectly Delicious Produce program; Sarah Mount, a student volunteer who works with the student-run group Bread Salvage, which  picks up unsold bread products from Freihofer’s Bread Company and delivers them to two schools in Middletown each week; and Natasha Timmons, a student volunteer who works with the student-run group Food Rescue, which picks up food normally wasted from eateries on campus, for delivery to the Eddy Shelter six days a week. Both student programs operate through Wesleyan's Jewett Center for Community Partnerships. Many thanks to our discussion leaders for lending their perspective and stories, and kudos for their efforts to reduce food waste and support the community through their food rescue programs.

This film screening is part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.

Our next film in the series will be Comfort Zone, about what climate change means locally, in our own backyards. This screening will be on April 2, 2018 at Middlesex Community College. Phone our office at 860-346-3282 for more information.



CRCCD 70th Annual Meeting Held at Forest City Farms as part of Fall Harvest Day

District board members, staff, family and friends joined us for our 70th annual meeting at Forest City Farms, featuring a farm tour and lots of family-friendly activities! Following our brief business meeting and a report on the year's conservation successes, we celebrated the District's Conservation Award winnners, then enjoyed refreshments and Fall Harvest Day activities, including a walking tour of the farm.

Forest City Farms, owned and managed by Gabe Russo with support from many of his family members, is a small farm located in the Middletown along the Connecticut River producing organically grown food, and contributing to the local sustainable food community. The wide variety of heirloom produce and culinary herbs grown at the farm are sold at farmers markets and to restaurants, distributed in local farm shares, and donated to the local soup kitchen and food pantry. Gabe Russo led us on an extensive tour and spoke about the farming operation, their efforts to enhance their farmland for agriculture, the many conservation practices they've put in place, and their plans to expand their crops and also develop educational facilities and offer programs to engage local families and children.

Many thanks to Forest City Farms for hosting our annual meeting at the farm, and including us in their first  Fall Harvest Day. A fun, and educational time was had by all!


Forgotten Farms Kicks Off 2017-18 Environmental Film Series

The 2017-2018 season of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series kicked off  Monday, October 2, 2017 with a screening of Forgotten Farms, about New England's dairy farmers. Thanks to everyone who came out to see this excellent film, which  covers so many important issues related to farming, food, and the environment, all with a wonderful human touch. If you don't have an appreciation for dairy farmers before seeing the film, you can't help but have one after! The film was followed by a great discussion led by Joe Greenbacker and Melissa Greenbacker-Dziurgot of Greenbacker's Brookfield Farm in Durham. Many thanks to Joe and Melissa for taking time out of their busy schedules to participate in the film screening.

As stated on the film's website, New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years, and fewer than 2,000 farms remain. Collectively, these farms tend 1.2 million acres of farmland and produce almost all of the milk consumed in New England. In our enthusiasm for the new food movement, we often overlook the farmers at the foundation of the regional agricultural economy. Only 100 years ago, New England produced most of its own food on 16 million acres of farmland. Climate change will demand that more of our food is grown closer to where we live. As we strive to revive local production, we have much to learn from dairy farmers who have been managing most of the farmland and sustaining the farm economy all along. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, the film reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers.

Our next film, on November 6, 2017, will be A Plastic Ocean, an exploration of the issue of plastics in our oceans and their effect on marine ecosystems and human health. We hope you can join us!

This film screening is part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.


Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Fundraiser a Fun and Successful Event

Thank you to everyone who came aboard or otherwise supported our 13th annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program held in late August, which was another successful event! The weather cooperated and we had a beautiful evening. Delicious food and wine, fun people, multiple eagle, osprey, heron, and egret sightings, gorgeous scenery, and one of the best swallow shows we've ever seen all contributed to an exceptional evening. Many thanks to our generous sponsors for making it possible, including Connecticut River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, and R2 Graphics, and the many individuals who made generous contributions.



26th Annual District Plant Sale a Success!

The District's 26th Annual Plant Sale held the last weekend in April was a great success! This sale is our main fundraising event, and all proceeds support our conservation, environmental education and technical assistance programs. It is also our biggest outreach event--through the sale we promote the use of CT native plants by home gardeners, enhancing habitat for wildlife and pollinators; encourage edible landscapes through offering a variety of edible plants; and provide plants appropriate for conservation uses, such as rain gardens and streamside buffer gardens.  The sale also supports our local nurseries.

Thank you to everyone who bought plants and supported our annual sale! Many thanks also to our amazing hard-working volunteers--including community members, master gardeners and our board members--and to Tanger Outlets in Westbrook for generously donating space for our sale!! Pictured below are volunteers bagging bare root strawberries and asparagus before the sale, and sale shoppers in front of our store.



Forest City Farms Spring Discovery Day Draws Many Community Members to the Farm

The first annual Spring Discovery Day at Forest City Farms held Saturday, May 20, 2017 was a big hit, drawing many families and children to the farm for their first visit.

Freshly harvested produce, and Forest City Farms t-shirts and bags were available for sale at the farmstand, and attendees enjoyed a variety of fun hands-on activities and learning opportunities. Many people planted their own pumpkin in the patch to return to harvest in the fall; learned about different types of soil (sandy, clay, loam) and what grows best in each type; investigated the critters that live in healthy soil to help make plants grow; learned about the benefits of compost and how to make it; planted beans, cucumbers, and snap peas in CT CowPots; learned about the water cycle and made water cycle bracelets; tested pH; and visited a display about bee-keeping too! It was a successful event, and we are looking forward to our first annual Fall Harvest Day to be held in October.

Forest City Farms is a small organic farm on City owned land on the Connecticut River in Middletown, focused on contributing to the local sustainable food community in which farm manager, Gabe Russo, his wife Allison, and their two young children live. They grow a wide variety of vegetables and culinary herbs that are sold at farmers markets and distributed in local farm shares. The farm’s goal is to grow food ecologically and ethically, and to be a community farm with educational programs to engage local children and families. A portion of the farm shares are subsidized for low income residents, and the farm is approved for SNAP/EDT. The summer CSA begins in June and runs to September; and the fall CSA runs from October to November.

The Forest City Farms Spring Discovery Day was part of a Conservation District project to enhance urban agriculture in Middletown, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts. Project Partners include Foresct City Farms, Long Lane Farm on the Wesleyan University campus, the City of Middletown, Middletown High School Agricultural Science and Technology Program, North End Action Team, the Macdonough and Farm Hill School Family Resource Centers, and the FoodCorps program. Funding for a pilot program to plan and hold two on-farm educational events at Forest City Farms, the first of which is the Spring Discovery Day, was provided by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation.




2016-2017 Environmental Film Series Ends with Inspiring Screening of Racing to Zero

Thank you to everyone who came out for our spring film, Racing to Zero! We had an enthusiastic group of nearly 70 people in attendance, with many excellent comments and questions to contribute to the post-film discussion. Many thanks also to Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's Recycling Coordinator, who did a great job leading the discussion, as well as to John Ferguson from the new Quantum Biopower composting facility in Southington, for lending his expertise to the discussion.

For those of you who missed the screening, I would definitely recommend seeing the film. As indicated on the film's website, Racing To Zero is a quick-moving, upbeat documentary presenting new solutions to the global problem of waste. By simply substituting the word RESOURCE for the word GARBAGE, a culture can be transformed, and a new wealth of industries can emerge. Three years ago the mayor of San Francisco pledged to achieve zero waste by 2020; the film tracks San Francisco’s waste stream diversion tactics and presents innovative new solutions to waste.

It was inspiring to see all that San Francisco's team of experts has been able to accomplish in their efforts to reduce waste. And as Kim O'Rourke pointed out, what they are doing in San Francisco is not that different from what we're doing here, they are just farther ahead of us. For more information about the film and what you can do to reduce waste, check out the film's website

We hope you can join us for future films! Stay tuned for information about our next film, which will be shown at Wesleyan Unviersity in the fall.  Phone our office at 860-346-3282 for more information. 

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. Racing to Zero is the ninth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, The End of the Line, The True Cost, Dukale's Dream, Xmas Without China, and Merchants of Doubt.



2017 Newsletter Features Fishway and Other Conservation Projects

Check out our latest newsletter (download PDF newletter), featuring lots of great project news. Read about progress on the Chapman Pond fishway, our Urban Agriculture project, and more!


Shop at AmazonSmile, Support Local Conservation!

Do you shop at Amazon? If so, you can support the Conservation District through AmazonSmile. Just click through the link below and a portion of the purchase total will be donated to the District on eligible items. Help support our technical and educational services and programs, and LOCAL conservation by adding the District as your charity of choice. Thank you!!!   


Merchants of Doubt Screening Draws Large Crowd!

Our most recent film in The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, was Merchants of Doubt, shown on February 6, 2017, 7pm at the Wesleyan University Center for Film Studies. This series of free film screenings has been a big success, and this film was no exception, drawing our largest audience ever--over 100 people!

As described on the website, Merchants of Doubt was inspired by the acclaimed book of the same name by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The film provides a satirical, often chilling expose into the conjuring of American spin, and the secretive group of pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of manufacturing doubt about well-studied, serious public and environmental health threats, including cigarettes, flame retardants, and climate change. It is an extremely well-done, compelling film, with interviews of a variety of players on both sides, including Naomi Oreskes.

After the film we were lucky to have Wesleyan Psychology Professor Steve Stemmler lead off the discussion by introducing some concepts relevant to the phenomenon portrayed in the film. Many people stayed to participate in a lively post-film discussion. 

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. Merchants of Doubt is the ninth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, The End of the Line, The True Cost, Dukale's Dream, and Xmas Without China.

Our next film will be Racing to Zero, about San Francisco’s efforts to achieve zero waste by 2020, which will be shown on April 3, 2017 at Middlesex Community College (movie at 7pm and BYO dinner and conversation at 6:30pm). We hope you can join us! Phone our office att 860-346-3282 for more information.


Interactive Coginchaug Water Quality Story Map Now Online

After testing a prototype and getting input from the community, the District's new web-based Coginchaug River water quality map is now available online!

For those of you who may not know, the District has been engaged in a long-term water quality assessment and improvement project to address elevated levels of E.coli bacteria in the Coginchaug River and tributaries. The river has been listed by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) as impaired and not supporting contact recreation and aquatic life since 1996 due to high bacteria levels. Much progress has been made over the years by the District and partners to address water quality concerns, with the goal of removing the river from the State Impaired Waters List. Current activities are focused on tracking down potential sources of bacteria through water quality monitoring and other assessment activities, and planning and implementing water quality improvement projects.

For more information, we encourage you to check out our interactive map. The map includes graphic displays of bacteria data gathered with the help of community volunteers through our CT River Watch Program; river facts; water quality improvement efforts; and actions that individuals, municipalities and farms can take to protect water quality. It currently features four years of results and will be updated annually with new results. The interactive map project was funded in part by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation as part of an effort to make water quality data more accessible, and build public awareness about Coginchaug River health.



Updated, Expanded Invasive Plant Guide Now Available!

We are excited to announce the recent publication of an updated, expanded version of the District's popular guide, Invasive Plants In Your Backyard! A Guide to Their Identification and Control. Copies of the guide are available at our office in Middletown, and will be distributed to town halls and libraries throughout our area in the coming weeks. A digital version of the guide is also available here (download PDF guide).

The original guide covered detailed identification and control information for ten common backyard invasives and recommendations for native alternatives to plant in their stead, as well as background information on invasive plants and why they are a concern. The new expanded guide includes nine additional plants: Wineberry, Mile-a-Minute Weed, Goutweed, Norway Maple, Black Swallow-Wort, Mugwort, Japanese Hop, Porcelainberry, and Japanese Stiltgrass.

This is the third printing of the guide, but the only major update since we first published the guide in 2009 with support from a grant from The Rockfall Foundation. Initially, we printed 3,000 copies, then three years later, 10,000 more! When we were running out of copies of our second printing, guide users urged us to expand the guide to include additional plants that are a growing concern in CT.

We are grateful for the technical input and assistance provided by the CT Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) in developing our expanded guide, and to The Rockfall Foundation for a generous grant to support printing of the guide. Project partners who supported this project by committing to buy into the print run include CIPWG, the Essex Land Trust, and other CT Conservation Districts. We printed 12,500 copies this third time, which we hope will be a sufficient supply to last for a while!


District 2016 Annual Report Published!

 We are pleased to present...the District's 2016 Annual Report! To view a PDF of the report, click on the image below.


Xmas Without China Shown as part of Environmental Film Series

The second fall film in The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, Xmas Without China, was shown on November 14, 2016 at Middlesex Community College in Middletown. It was an interesting departure from our usual films, more of a cultural study focused on consumerism and immigration in American society, than a film with an environmental theme.  In the film, a Chinese immigrant challenges a US family to reject materialism and live without Chinese products during Christmas, touching on themes of globalization, product safety standards, the intersection of cultures, and shifts in our views of the 'American Dream'. The film provides an intimate portrait of families wrestling with their drive to consume cheap products, as well as their desire for human connection and a sense of who we are in a fast-changing world.

In the spirit of issues raised by the film about Christmas and consumerism, I assembled a list of local, sustainable and non-materialistic giving options to consider this holiday season. Ideas include local farm products; soaps, candles and lip balms; herbs, teas and botanicals; local wine and beer, and vineyard or brewery tours and tastings; yarn and wool products; local crafts; gifts certificates for local restaurants, yoga classes, theater or dance performances, concerts; massages or a day at the spa; a special outing...the possibilities are endless!

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. Xmas Without China is the eighth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, The End of the Line, The True Cost, and Dukale's Dream. Our next film will be Merchants of Doubt, to be shown in early February at Wesleyan University. Stay tuned for details!


District's 69th Annual Meeting Features Cato Corner Farm Tour

A fun time was had by staff, board, partners, and members of the community at our 69th annual meeting at Cato Corner Farm in Colchester. Participants heard about the District's 2015-2016 accomplishments; helped honor our conservation award winners; and learned about the farm’s conservation practices and cheese-making operations.

Cato Corner Farm, owned and managed by the mother-son team of Elizabeth MacAlister and Mark Gillman, is renowned for its raw farmstead cheeses made by hand from the delicious milk of its 45 Jersey cows, using traditional cheese-making styles. The cows are raised humanely on a pasture-based diet without growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. A lifelong goal to ensure the land would be preserved for future generations has been met with two protective easements on the land, one that protects all pastureland from development or cultivation through the Natural Resources Conservation Service Grassland Reserve Program, and the second on the entire farm held by Connecticut Farmland Trust.

The farm tour was led by Elizabeth MacAlister, who spoke about the dairy and cheese making operation, and introduced us to the herd, including serveral newborn additions. We had the opportunity to taste several of the delicious cheeses, and many of us bought cheese to take home; and all enjoyed the hot mulled cider and other refreshments brought by staff and board members. Many thanks to Cato Corner for hosting our annual meeting at the farm!


Dukale's Dream Screened as part of Environmental Film Series

We launched our 2016-2017 season of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series with a screening of Dukale's Dream on September 26 at Wesleyan University's Powell Family Cinema. The film, about the beneficial impacts of fair trade coffee on the environment and the lives of the growers, was a welcome, uplifting story that focused on a combination of successful solutions to bring light to several human and environmental concerns related to the coffee growing industry. These include coffee farmers not being paid fair prices, and the environmental and human impacts of conventional coffee growing practices.

Surprisingly, as I learned from the Dukale’s Dream website, the coffee industry is the second largest international commodity (the first is oil), and one of the largest sites of forced labor and child slavery around the world. Coffee workers are forced to work long hours with little to no pay, and are often exposed to toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides banned in the U.S.  We can make a difference to coffee farmers and the environment by choosing to buy Fair Trade! For more information about the impact of choosing Fair Trade go to

We hope you can join us for the next film in our series, Xmas without China, on November 14, 2016 at 7:00pm, in Chapman Hall at Middlesex Community College.

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. Dukale's Dream was the seventh film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, The End of the Line, and The True Cost.



The True Cost Opens Eyes to Environmental and Human Impacts of Clothing Industry

The sixth film in The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, The True Cost, was shown on Monday April 18, 2016 at Middlesex Community College. Thanks to all who came out for this Earth Week screening! The film told a very compelling story of the little known impacts of this industry, what we were told is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to the oil industry, and did an excellent job of weaving together multiple environmental and human aspects of the story behind our clothes. If you haven't had a chance to see it, I recommend it highly. We all wear clothing, after all!

For a few tips on more sustainable and ethical clothing choices, go to the movie website, and The Good Trade, Green Choices, and Ecocult.


Our next film will be shown in Fall 2016--stay tuned for further information about the film and our schedule.  Please contact our office at 860-346-3282 with any questions.

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. The True Cost is the sixth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, Chasing Ice, and The End of the Line.


The End of the Line Screening the Fifth in Our Environmental Film Series

Thanks to everyone who came on Monday, February 29, 2016 for our fifth film in The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series,  The End of the Line, a film about the devastating effects of overfishing. The film was shown at the Powell Family Cinema in Wesleyan University's Center for Film Studies. There were 65 people in attendance, there was great deal of interest in the topic, and we had a lively discussion after the film led by Barry Chernoff, Wesleyan Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the College of the Environment, who studies fish. For resources on what you can do as a consumer, such as making more sustainable fish choices, go to the film website (3 Steps to Sustainability), and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment. The End of the Line is the fifth film in the series. Previous films include: Elemental, Watershed, Dirt! The Movie, and Chasing Ice.


District Receives Environmental Champion Award from Rivers Alliance of CT

We are excited to announce that at the Rivers Alliance of CT Annual Meeting on December 2, 2015, the District received an Environmental Champion Award along with the other four Conservation Districts and the CT Association of Conservation Districts. The award was given for expert and generous assistance in helping our communities preserve healthy soils and waters. We very much appreciate the recognition by Rivers Alliance of the important services we provide to our communities, and our role in protecting soil and water in the state! (photo of Executive Director Jane Brawerman and District Chairman Tom ODell taken by District board member Lorraine Jalbert)


Chasing Ice Screening the Fourth Film in our Environmental Series

Bone-chilling, hair-raising, and an amazing accomplishment were some of the words used by one viewer to describe the film Chasing Ice after watching it in November as part of our series, The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series! This fourth film in our series was another well-attended event, with a group of about 50 people joining us on November 9 at Middlesex Community College to see this film focused on climate change. I think all would agree that Chasing Ice was eye-opening and well worth watching, with its stunning photography, riveting story line, and edge of your seat moments. Many stayed for the informal discussion to share their impressions after the film, led by Christine Witkowski, Coordinater of the Environmental Science Program at Middlesex Community College. 

We hope you can join us for our next film, The End of the Line, about over-fishing, which will be shown at Wesleyan University on February 28, 2016 at 7pm (exact location TBA). Check back soon for details!

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Series was launched in 2015 by the CT River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's College of the Environment and Center for the Arts. In addition to Chasing Ice, past films include Elemental, Watershed, and Dirt! The Movie.


DIRT! The Movie Screening a Success

The screening of DIRT! The Movie, presented as part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, was a great success! A good crowd of over 60 were in attendance at the Goldsmith Family Cinema to join us in celebrating the International Year of Soils, one of the reasons we chose this film. The film provides an in-depth view of why soil is such an invaluable natural resource, threats to soil health and productivity, and how tied soil is with so many significant global, environmental, political and social concerns. For more information go to the film's website.


Durham-Middlefield High School Team Wins CT Envirothon

Kudos to the Coginchaug Regional High School CT Envirothon Team for winning the 24th annual CT Envirothon in 2015, placing first out of forty-two teams! CT Envirothon is a high school natural resource education program begun in 1992 by CT Conservation Districts. As part of the year-long curriculum, teams of students, mentored by their teachers, learn from web-based resources and hands-on workshops covering soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatics and a changing current issue. In late May, they test their skills and knowledge at a field competition, this year held at Connecticut College Arboretum.

Coginchaug H.S. team members, advised by Science Department Chair Susan Michael, included Amelia Bianchi, Natalie Charette, Tyler McDonald, Matthew Sawicki, and Lilian Zhou, and alternates Ryan Gossart and Troy Willis. The team is pictured below sporting their hard-won medals. Please join me in wishing them a hearty congratulations! See the District's press release for more information about the team and the CT Envirothon (link to PDF press release).



Second Environmental Film in New Series Shown in May

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series continued with a screening of WATERSHED: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, on May 4, 2015 at Middlesex Community College in Middletown. The new environmental film series was launched on March 30 in partnership with the Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, Wesleyan University's College of the Environment and Center for the Arts, and The Rockfall Foundation. The screenings are open to the public and free of charge.

Thirty-five people attended the film and participated in an informal discussion following the screening. Delicious baked goods were provided by ION Restaurant in Middletown. WATERSHED is executive produced and narrated by Robert Redford, and has received numerous awards. Using the Colorado River as an example of issues facing rivers around the world, the film tells the story of threats to the "once-mighty Colorado River, now dammed and diverted and struggling to support 30 million people." It offers solutions for "meeting the competing interests of cities, agriculture, industry, recreation, wildlife and indigenous communities with rights to the waters...and the future of the American West." In the film we learn about competing demands and uses from a fly fishing guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, a Colorado rancher, a Delta restoration worker, a Navajo Council member, a Colorado mayor, a Los Angeles native, and a group of Outward Bound teens rafting down the Colorado River, who all reflect on how a new water ethic can result in coexisting with enough for all.

The Colorado River is just one of many similarly significant rivers that run dry from overuse before they reach their outlets ( Others include the Indus River in Pakistan, Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers in Central Asia, the Rio Grande River in N. America, the Yellow River in China, the Teesta River in India, and the Murray River in Australia.

Our next film, Chasing Ice, will be shown in September at Wesleyan University (date TBA). Once again, refreshments will be served, and there will be time for informal discussion after the film. We hope you can join us! If you have questions, please contact our office, (860) 346-3282.  


Technical Assistance Available for Horse Owners

Given that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year and uses 3 tons of bedding material, managing horse waste properly is essential to prevent environmental impacts. As part of a program funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, the District has been providing technical assistance to horse owners free of charge. While the grant project is now completed, the District will continue to offer this assistance.

If you have a horse operation, or just a few backyard horses, and would like to learn more about management practices to protect water quality and available technical and financial assistance, please contact our office! We will be happy to schedule and on-farm assessment to identify  management concerns, recommend improvements, and advise on how to get help with planning and implementation. Assistance is available to anyone in our 26-town area: Berlin, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Hebron, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Marlborough, Middlefield, Middletown, New Britain, Newington, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Rocky Hill, Salem and Westbrook. 


Rain Recycling with Rain Barrels

Learn about the benefits and how-tos of rain barrels from this new brochure published by the Conservation District (link to PDF brochure)! 


12th Annual CT River Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Fundraiser a Magical Trip!

A full boat left the dock at Eagle Landing State Park for our 12th annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program on August 23, 2016. It was another exceptional evening on the scenic lower Connecticut River that featured a wide variety of local and organic wines, a delicious and plentiful dinner spread, many bald eagle and other bird sightings, and fun and interesting information about the natural and cultural history of the river, as told by Captain Mark and First Mate Mindy. At twilight, we settled in to watch the plentiful tree swallows return before they settled for the night in the marsh, and while they didn't entertain us with their typical swirling formations, their numbers were indeed impressive! Many thanks to our generous donors, including Connecticut River Expeditions, Clinton Nurseries, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, and R2 Graphics, and to all who joined us on board to support our efforts to promote citizen science and engage our communities in river conservation through the Connecticut River Watch Program.


68th District Annual Meeting Features Hike at the Preserve in Old Saybrook

The District's 68th Annual Meeting on October 24, 2015 drew a large crowd to celebrate The Preserve, along with our 2015 Conservation Award Winners (download PDF list). Attendees joined District Board and Staff at the Saybrook Point Pavilion to elect board members, take a look back on our conservation highlights of the past year, hear about and honor the accomplishments of our award winners, learn about the long effort to protect The Preserve and plans for public use of the property, and enjoy a cool fall hike on one of the properties' many trails. The hike was led by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator with Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who played an important role in protection of The Preserve and is now active with the committee planning for recreational use of the property in balance with protecting natural resources.

The Preserve--a 1,000 acre coastal forest in Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook--was protected permanently in spring of 2015, a happy conclusion to a long effort that began in 2003 when development of the land was first proposed. Preservation of this significant property ensures a key link to over 500 acres of existing parkland and hiking trails will remain open to the public and provide a place to connect with nature close to home. The extensive woodland includes 38 vernal pools, 25 miles of trails, and more than 3,100 feet of streams. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including many species of special conservation concern, and is used as a refueling stop by migratory birds. The Preserve also plays a critical role in protecting water quality in the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, which flow into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

Below (left), accepting the Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest award are (L to R) Kathy Connolly (Old Saybrook resident), Alicia Sullivan (CT Trust for Public Land), and Chris Cryder (CT Fund for the Environment), along withTom ODell (Conservation District Board), and Jane Brawerman (Conservation District Executive Director).


Clean Water Paddle Draws Enthusiastic Group of Boaters

The joint Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District paddle on the Mattabesset and Connecticut Rivers on August 10, 2013 was a great success. We had a big turnout and a fun morning on the river, not to mention incredibly beautiful weather. Everyone was excited about the opportunity to participate in the group paddle, and the feedback afterward was all very positive. We started in Cromwell at the Mattabesset River Canoe/Kayak Trail launch, and took out at Harbor Park in Middletown. After getting organized and shuttling cars and people back and forth to the takeout spot, everyone heard from Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC's CT River Steward in Connecticut, and CRCCD Executive Director, Jane Brawerman about each organization's--and the state's--efforts to keep our rivers clean and build awareness about water quality issues.

On the river, we had a impressive flotilla of about 20 boats. As we paddled down the Mattabesset River through Cromwell Meadows, sightings included an adult and an immature bald eagle; a great blue heron; black ducks and lots of ducklings; black crested cormorants; a kingfisher; an eastern kingbird; barn swallows; and lots of painted turtles. There were also many beautiful fields of cardinal flowers, and large stands of wild rice. It is a truly special spot--an amazingly peaceful and ecologically rich refuge, not far from a busy commercial area and several major roads. If you've never had the chance to enjoy it, you should definitely go for a paddle there! Thanks to CRWC for inviting us to partner with them on the Clean Water Paddle, and The Rockfall Foundation for the grant funding that provided boats for a number of participants.

Waterside Buffers in the Eightmile River Watershed: The Lake Hayward Demonstration Buffer

In spring 2013, the District collaborated with the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Watershed to establish a buffer on Lake Hayward in East Haddam with the help of the Lake Hayward Association and Landscape Designer, Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes. The buffer is part of a project to promote use of vegetated buffers along streams, lakes and ponds to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality throughout the Eightmile River Watershed, funded in part by The Rockfall Foundation. In addition to the Lake Hayward demonstration buffer, this multi-component project consists of a Buffer in a Bag, a packet of trees, shrubs and flowering perennials suited for areas that might get flooded periodically, offered at the District's annual plant sale in 2012 and 2013. The project also includes education and outreach about the benefits of waterside vegetated buffers and information about how to create them. A poster, Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed (link to PDF poster), has been developed to place in town halls, libraries, as well as several outdoor areas (e.g. the Lake Hayward pavillion and Devil's Hopyard State Park kiosk).

For more information, including photos and a planting plan, check out, and