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Groton_fall_fest_colage_croppedSave the Date: Groton Fall Festival, October 10, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Groton’s Fall Festival is a community-wide event that attracts artists, crafters, businesses and nonprofit organizations who display their merchandise and information at Poquonnock Plains Park in Groton. Since its inception in 2006, the Fall Festival has grown dramatically: over 110 vendors participate and thousands of people from the local area and beyond attend. Visit GOSA’s booth for information on GOSA, kids’ nature activities, free milkweed seeds, and more!

SNIP_GOSA_Annual_Meeting _Instant_2015Save the Date: Annual Meeting, October 15, 7-9 p.m. 

Please join us at GOSA’s Annual Meeting and lecture on The Battle of Mistick Fort. For all the details go to our GOSA Instant! Annual Meeting announcement or click on the GOSA News icon at left.

Save the Date: Tour of Avery Farm, October 18, 2:00 p.m. 

Please join our next tour of beautiful Avery Farm    
When: Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2:00
Where: Enter “245 Lambtown Rd. Extension, Ledyard, CT” in your GPS device for parking lot location. For map go to: http://gosaonline.org/2014/02/avery-farm-tour-sign-up/
Your guides: GOSA President, Joan Smith, Sidney Van Zandt, GOSA VP, and Director, Whitney Adams, botanist.



August 27

Many thanks to Marie, Sidney, Sandy, Whitney, Jim, Tom, Joan, Sue, Scott, Joan, Si and eight volunteers from the Navy Sub base (in yellow shirts) for participating in a marathon staging and planting session.

SF.SSplanting8.27.15Two trucks, two vans and three station wagons hauled plants, soil, water, wheelbarrels, tools and people to GOSA’s Sheep Farm and The Merritt Family Forest.

Trees and shrubs have now replaced the trees damaged and/or downed by Superstorm Sandy, thanks to a USDA farmland grant and the efforts of our volunteers. Most of these are fruit bearing and provide good habitat for wildlife while adding to the diversity of our woods and landscapes.  Dogwoods, ironwoods, high-bush cranberries, huckleberries, blueberries, viburnums, inkberries, bayberries, winterberries and a few oaks (the latter donated by GOSA director Whitney Adams) were among the 40+ trees and shrubs planted by these hard-working and enthusiastic volunteers.

Huckleberries, for example, though not as popular with humans as true blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), are important to wildlife. Many songbirds as well as ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and turkey consume the fruits. Small mammals also eat them, and deer browse the twigs and foliage. Butterflies seek them out as larval host plants, and several types of bees gather nectar and serve as pollinating agents. 

So, a story that started with a terrible storm in 2012 ends fruitfully and happily in the summer of 2015!

moving imageOngoing Records Project 

GOSA is collaborating with the Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC) and the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) to organize and digitally scan our paper records according to Land Trust Alliance standards. We are honored to have been selected for this competitive program.

With the assistance of former Groton Town Clerk Barbara Tarbox, several GOSA members spent two weeks sorting records dating as far back as 1967, pulling boxes from member basements and the shelves, closets, nooks and crannies at the Pratt Wright Gallery. records sweep2015Discarded duplicates, obsolete and non-relevant materials, which filled a pick-up truck, will be taken to the shredder. Critical organizational, historic and property records will be scanned and saved.

Consultant Amanda Branson arrived in Groton to pick up several boxes of key documents on July 21, 2015 from both GOSA and Avalonia Land Conservancy. Amanda will review, organize and make recommendations for a records system that will conform to Land Trust Alliance standards,  can be updated on a  regular basis and that will have multiple back-up systems.  An intern will assist with the scanning project.

The records initiative will help us protect land by protecting the records that document them in perpetuity.  There will be back-up systems, both digital and paper, to hopefully last for hundreds of years.


Campers from the Groton Town Parks & Recreation/William Seeley School program visited the Sheep Farm on July 16. Upon alighting from the bus, the 9 to 10 year-old youngsters identified butterflies with guidance from Bea Reynolds. The children scrambled over rocks and a historic house foundation.  They admired large sycamore and oak trees  and enjoyed  a woods walk, the brook, waterfall, and grist mill dam. Joan Smith pointedcaddisfly out caddisfly larvae clinging to the bottom of rocks, a sign of clean stream water. 

NineBarkCandlewood Ridge Habitat Restoration Site 

Jim Anderson and Marie Olsen have been hauling water (generously supplied by the Groton Fire Station) by pick-up truck and watering ninebark shrubs in the restoration area by hand, one by one. Other species, of the 1100 shrubs and trees that were planted last year, have thrived despite the recent drought and the hard dry soil. Fortunately, they did not require this extra attention.

Whitney Adams dedicated many hours to removing mugwort_mature_leafJapanesestiltgrassmugwort, an invasive plant species that has cropped up in the restoration area. Jim Anderson and Jack Berlanda, a state forester, will work at eradicating Japanese stiltgrass, another invasive that may have been imported in the soils brought in by a former developer.

Tlong-earedbathe coppicing project to expand New England cottontail habitat will begin mid-September with the cutting of overgrown mountain laurel. Trees will be cut after October 1 to accommodate the possibility that the protected long-eared bat may be nesting at the site until then. Due to the presence of heavy equipment, and for safety reasons, the northern sections of Candlewood Ridge will be closed to the public.

The Sheep Farm and The Merritt Family Forest

Dick Raymond, the state forester working with the UDSA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) visited the areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy* on the Sheep Farm and on The Merritt Family Forest. He noted the areas where GOSA had constructed habitat brush piles from downed and broken trees, and the areas where Whitney Adams had recently eradicated Japanese barberry growing in the newly sunlit openings on the Merritt. 

Dick recommended planting hardwood and dogwood trees and multiple shrubs such as cranberry viburnum, maple leaf viburnum, blueberries, and other food-bearing native species. Bear Oak will be suitable for the dry ledge at the Sheep Farm. GOSA will plan to begin the planting project in mid-August. 

Garrett Timmons from USDA NRCS also visited the Sheep Farm to review the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) work performed by GOSA members over the past year. In year four of the five year program, GOSA removed a thick tangle of bittersweet, multiflora rose and other invasive plant species on several acres in the area below the yellow trail on the west side of the property. Native plants will be encouraged to grow in, providing better food and cover for wildlife.

* Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. 


Legislative Session Update on 2015 Biennial Budget:

  • Increases the cap on combined federal and state funding for projects under DEEP’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program (OSWLA) from 70% to 90%, and the DEEP Commissioner can now waive the cap entirely under certain conditions. This is a big win for land trusts and towns by reducing, and potentially eliminating, the often deal-breaking amount of match funding required to close a conservation project.
  • Partially restored the cut to the Community Investment Act (CIA) which provides a consistent stream of funding for critical programs for open space conservation, farmland/dairy support, historic preservation and affordable housing.
  •  Restores all but $200,000 of the $2 million cut by the Governor’s State Parks Budget in each of the next two years; but when added to the $400,000 in rescissions that will take effect, State Parks will take a total hit of $600,000.
  •  Restores funding for Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)staff and keeps the agency at DEEP.

pine_beetle2_hBeetle Invasion   Another issue of concern to Connecticut is the latest beetle invasion, threatening three varieties of our pine trees: the red pine, Scots pine and pitch pine. Of these, pitch pine — the only native species of the four — is at the greatest risk. Click here to learn more.

where.we.live_logoLearn all about land conservation on WNPR’s Where We Live program titled This Land (Trust) Was Made for You and Me.

CLCCdoc.ProtectingtheLandYou LoveProtecting the Land You Love   This booklet was written by the Connecticut Land Conservation Council for landowners who love their land and want to learn more about options for permanent protection and what to expect during the conservation process. Click on the icon to discover that there is no “one-size-fits all” approach to land protection, and that you can choose the option that best meets your family’s needs. Throughout the booklet, you can read real stories and advice from landowners who have conserved their own special places. 

TMFFCowslipbridgeMay 22   New Bridge Built Over Cowslip Brook at the Merritt Family Forest Improves X-Town Trail

Assisted by 20 young, enthusiastic and strong Naval Submarine Base volunteers, the  bridge was completed in record time: less than 30 minutes! Volunteers carried the frame from the road to the brook, and pushed or carried the wheel barrels filled with pre-cut boards and equipment to the crossing site. With five drills working, we started at both ends and met in the middle. As the last board fell into place, the Cutler Cross-Country team crossed the bridge for its first official use. Thank you U.S. Navy Volunteers! The bridge even came in under budget with donated surplus screws and supplies. 


Keeping Our Properties and Parks Clean and Beautiful

April 28 Joan Smith reporting: “Many thanks to all who volunteered to help with the The Merritt Family Forest Clean-up.The clean-up took about 2.5 hrs. Eighteen large trash bags were filled with an amazing array of strange materials including car parts, pieces of metal, foam, and a traffic signal light. A plastic human skull won first prize for most unusual item. The property looks great now. We picked up on both sides of the road and all around the intersection at Flanders too.”

HFCleanupDad4.25.15April 25 Joan Smith reporting: “GOSA’s Annual Haley Farm State Park Clean-up attracted GOSA members and friends of all sizes (see header image above) including UCONN Alumni, UCONN Eco-Huskies, Cache in-Trash-Out Geocachers and Canine Patrol Cadets (true heroes!). Five acres of invasive plants were lopped and trash bags filled. Large metal pieces, a buoy, a colorful kite and much more were removed from fields, shoreline, roadside and woods. A shout-out to The Last Green Valley for help in sponsoring tools, gloves, bags, water, cider and food. UCONN Alumni provided grinders and water and Eco-Huskies provided bags and water. Thanks everyone.”

April 23 We had a great time at the GOSA Gala! Thanks to the many who organized and attended the event. Pictures and more coming soon.

Outreach to kids
CK Explorer’s Club
here to read an article about this wonderful program for kids.




GOSA’s Spring Newsletter Click on the newlsetter image to read about “lawn-love” and its impact on the Sound, about some exciting sustainable development ideas from our new town planner, and much more.

Fundraising:  Avery Farm Update

“Preservation projects such as these,” said Malloy, “are fundamental to maintaining our high quality of life, protecting the immense natural beauty of our state, and making Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family.” 

The thermometer and pie chart tell the story of our fund-raising progress so far.  Please click here to help us raise the remaining $300,000 needed to purchase Avery Farm.

In an editorial titled Preserving Open Spaces for Posterity,  the Day’s editorial board encouraged their readers to support Avery Farm. If you have not read this wonderful editorial, please click here.

Sheep Farm Waterfall image2

Sheep Farm waterfall after a summer storm



Town Meetings

Go to the Groton Town Website for a complete schedule of town meetings. The only town meetings listed on this GOSA page will be those of expected special environmental interest. Once you are in the town schedule, click on the calendar displayed and move forward and backward with plus and minus signs. For a video of Town Council meetings, click on GMTV on Groton home page and then on Streaming Video.