Category Archives: Environment

About Those Beach Boulders…

Alert “06880” readers have noticed earth movers and boulders on Compo Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Don’t worry: Renovations — if they happen — are far in the future.

This is part of a long-planned shore stabilization and dredging project on the south side of the marina.

Note: Vehicle access to the west end of the beach will be restricted soon. Pedestrians can walk along the beach.

 

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

In April, a towering apple tree in front of Town Hall was cut down. Planted in its were several cherry trees.

They have not yet borne fruit. But another big apple tree that remained is producing plenty.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Just in time for cider.

 

Tooling Around The Farm

Today was fantastic for anything outdoors related. If a realtor couldn’t sell a house with today’s spectacular weather and fall foliage, she should find another line of work.

Meanwhile, down on the (Wakeman Town) Farm, volunteers were out in force. They helped harvest fall vegetables, and prepare for the arrival of sheep and alpacas (!).

The crew was helped by the Tauck family’s “Trip’n trailer.” It hauls tools to national, state and local parks, to help with events like this.

Tauck tools 1

In the spirit of volunteerism, Robin Tauck says that if you’ve got a group project and need shovels, rakes, trowels and wheelbarrows, just call 203-227-0677.

The tools are free. The experience is priceless.

Compo Acres Renovation: The Sequel

The renovation of Compo Acres Shopping Center has been controversial for several reasons.

As noted yesterday, merchants worry that the ongoing, long-running project will run through the make-or-break holiday season.

They’re not the only ones upset. Neighbors have put up with noise and dust, as the upper back parking lot has been leveled.

The resulting one-level lot is intended to be easier for shoppers and employees — few of whom ever ventured back there.

But it’s also resulting in a loss of privacy. A number of trees were felled and shredded this week.

Compo Acres trees

It may not quite be “paving paradise” to put up a parking lot. But those trees sure were nice.

 

Downtown Trees: The Sequel

This morning’s post warned that some beloved trees may soon disappear from downtown.

To everything there is a season, and all that. In a nearby location, 9 new trees will soon provide beauty and shade.

The Westport Tree Board has announced a “Memorial Tree Program” for Veterans Green. Trees may be purchased to honor — here’s the tie-in — veterans, for their service to our country.

New trees will join old on Veterans Green.

New trees will join old on Veterans Green.

A donation of $2,000 includes the cost and planting of the tree, 5 years of maintenance, and a 4 inch-by-8 inch commemorative plaque.

Nine spots have been chosen, on a first-come, first-served basis. The size and species of each tree will be determined by the tree warden.

Applications are available in the Town Clerk’s and Public Works department offices, up the hill from the green in Town Hall. They’re also at the Parks & Rec office at Longshore. For more information, call 203-341-1134, or email treewarden@westportct.gov.

Deadline for full payment is October 20. Just in time for Veteran’s Day.

Downtown Trees: Enjoy Them Now

While Westport wonders about the fate of the cherry trees in front of the now-abandoned downtown Y — they’ll probably end up like George Washington’s — JP Vellotti is thinking about a different species.

These stand handsomely on the small rise at the corner of Church Lane and Elm Street:

Downtown trees

Though the nearby Kemper Gunn House will soon be moved to the Baldwin parking lot, these trees will most likely not go with them. They’ll make way for the Bedford Square retail/residential/office complex, whose construction begins soon.

JP wondered if — thanks to their location — they are elms.

They are not. He learned they are Norway Maples — a common street tree, he says, “but one that Columbia University’s forestry department calls an invasive species.”

Cherry trees, Norway maples, and whatever else is downtown: JP advises, “enjoy ‘em while we got ‘em.”

 

Bye Bye, Ospreys

Alert — and very environmentally conscious — “06880” reader Wendy Crowther writes:

At 6:45 Wednesday morning, as I drove to work, I noticed that the giant osprey nest that had been perched on top of the utility pole at Fresh Market was gone.  It had been there very recently.

I want to reassure everyone who, like me, enjoyed watching this nest all summer that everything is okay. The osprey family (mom, dad and their matured hatchling) flew the coop a few weeks ago. Since mid-August the family was spending less time in the nest – often perching high up in a large, dead tree behind Fresh Market that was more spacious than their nest had become as the young one grew.

I haven’t seen any of the ospreys in their nest for a month, although I would still see (and hear) them flying overhead above Winslow Park (near my home). I don’t know whether ospreys migrate or roost elsewhere once their young ones mature. Maybe someone out there in the “06880” world knows.

I want to thank the utility companies and Fresh Market property owners for being sensitive to the presence of these birds all summer long, and for allowing nature to take its course.

The osprey nest near the  Fresh Market parking lot, earlier this summer.

The osprey nest near the Fresh Market parking lot, earlier this summer.

I loved driving by this nest every day. It was fun to see the young chick grow to adulthood. It was fascinating to watch the parents soar in with fish in their talons, or observe the fledgling patiently waiting for its parents to return. The young one would screech when it saw a parent in the distance, and fluttered its wings when mom or dad dove from on high and came in for landings.

The nest provided a unique opportunity to observe wildlife close up, while allowing the birds to remain totally wild. My heart felt a bit of a pang when I saw the empty utility pole. But the birds had moved on, as do we all.

I couldn’t imagine why such a magnificent creature would choose the top of a Post Road utility pole for its nesting site. It was a fascinating  juxtaposition. But I, for one, thank them for providing me with amusement and a lesson in nature.  I hope they’ll return next year, although I’m sure Fresh Market and the utility companies feel otherwise.

(NOTE: Connecticut Light & Power workers relocated the nest to a higher utility pole — one with fewer wires 150 feet away — earlier this week, after the birds flew south for the winter. The hope is that the ospreys return to the relocated nest in the spring.)

Poop Plea

Haskins Preserve is an astonishing site on Green Acre Lane (off South Compo Road) administered by Aspetuck Land Trust. Its 16 acres are filled with woods, meadows, ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees.

Many Westporters have never heard of it. Those who have, treasure it as an oasis of beauty and solitude.

Most do, anyway.

Dog waste is a mounting problem at the Haskins Preserve. And it’s not just droppings on trails and paths. Some owners actually take the time to wrap waste in plastic bags — then leave them lying around.

Some sleazeballs “hide” the poop behind rocks and trees. Others are more brazen. They dump the dumps within sight of a sign saying, “Please remove dog waste.”

Steward Jamie Walsh has posted a video documenting this spectacularly rude and seriously obnoxious behavior.

Why don’t the stewards just put garbage cans at Haskins Preserve?

“We’re a volunteer organization, with a limited budget and resources,” Jamie explains. “It’s not practical for someone to empty them on a regular basis.

“And it would attract wildlife that would feast on the remaining garbage, which would then be strewn all over the parking lot.”

Haskins is a preserve — not a park. Is it too much to ask that if you bring your dog with you, then you take your dog’s business out?

For some Westporters, the answer is apparently: yes.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.

 

Fox On The Run

For over a century, Westporters have enjoyed Old Mill Beach.

But wildlife has been here longer than that. And — after decades away — it seems at least one species is back.

Robin Tauck owns a quintessential, weather-beaten home on Compo Cove. Yesterday, while enjoying perfect late-September weather, she spotted a large, seemingly wounded red fox.

The fox on Old Mill Beach. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

The fox on Old Mill Beach. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

He spent much of the afternoon “cruising the beach.”

As Robin noted, he was “cute, fast, limping and watchful.” He may also be rabid.

Some beachgoers were worried. Others, Robin said, thought it wonderful “to see and be mindful of our still-natural setting, and the species with whom we share our special environment.”

Be warned. Be careful.

But remember: The foxes were here first.

Feral Cats: The Sequel

The infestation of feral cats in the Compo Beach neighborhood may be over.

According to Foti Koskinas — Westport Police Department deputy chief who, as one of his duties, oversees animal control — told “06880” today that he and several others are helping the homeowner who, to the dismay of neighbors, has provided food and shelter for up to 30 feral cats.

The owner is “working hard to do the right thing,” Koskinas reports.

Four cats have already been removed, and will be spayed. Then they’ll be relocated, away from the neighborhood.

When feral cats multiply, it's no day at the beach.

When feral cats multiply, it’s no day at the beach.

The owner is also collaborating with PAWS. That organization will trap 5 more cats, spay them, and relocate them to farms and barns.

The woman has agreed to feed only her personal cats — not strays — and to do so inside her home, not outside. She will also give up 1 rescue cat for adoption.

“We’re committing to helping her in any way we can,” Koskinas says. “The neighbors are helping too.”

Several neighbors contacted “06880” to offer praise for Koskinas, PAWS and the homeowner.

Sounds like a problem that — in more than one way — is almost “fixed.”