Category Archives: Environment

Pics Of The Day #660

One view of the Sherwood Mill Pond … (Photo/Katherine Ross)

… and another. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Pic Of The Day #657

Seen today on the semi-frozen Saugatuck River (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Fortunately, Westporters Can Get Flood Insurance Discount

Floods are a fact of life in Westport.

Fortunately, homeowners in certain areas can buy flood insurance.

Unfortunately, it’s expensive.

Fortunately, FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — offers discounts. They’re based on rankings of each community. #1 offers the highest reduction; #10 the least.

Unfortunately, Westport is #8.

Fortunately — thanks to efforts implemented by the Planning & Zoning Commission — that’s up from #10.

The high water mark on an “06880” reader’s garage is very high. This was last October.

Fortunately too, the Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management is available online. It enables residents to receive a 10% reduction on their flood insurance.

Unfortunately, the report itself is not available online. You’ll click on the town website, and see that the online document merely tells you the next step to complete to receive the information.

Fortunately, I’ve cut and pasted the relevant information:

A copy of the CT South Western Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (2016) is available either in person at the Westport Planning and Zoning Office (Town Hall, Room 203), or by clicking here.

Unfortunately, the link above does not bring you where you want to be. I think this is the relevant document:

Fortunately, there are no floods in the immediate forecast.

Idle Talk

Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Tracy Newman writes:

Last Sunday night marked the start of the Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat. It originated as a way to calculate the age of trees. Today it’s evolved into a time to celebrate nature, and protect the environment.

The backdrop of this holiday is a good time to remind Westporters of one small change they can consider making, to help the earth.

One of our town’s greatest treasures — its beautiful coastline — is accessible to Westporters of all ages. Children crowd the playgrounds. Kiteboarders ride the waves on windy days. Sun worshipers soak up rays. Picnickers, shell collectors, fishermen, sand castle builders — the list of people and activities at Compo goes on and on.

Even during winter’s frostiest days, people still come to Compo. They walk their dogs. They gundle up and stroll the shoreline. They perch on benches, or sit in their vehicles and take in the view.

No matter the weather, the Compo Beach view is gorgeous. (Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

How fortunate are we that even those who prefer to stay inside their car, admiring the dynamic vista — from sunrise to sunset, low tide to high, bright sun to stormy clouds — can enjoy Compo? It is to those people that I make my heartfelt request.

Please, turn off your engine.

Chilly? Bring a blanket.

On the phone? Switch your headset to speaker.

Listening to music? On most newer cars, the radio continues until you open the driver’s door.

Why bother making these adjustments?

Because idling your car is bad for the earth.

The Environmental Defense Fund says, “For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll prevent 1 pound of carbon dioxide from being released.” Carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to global warming.

Running your engine also costs you money. The EDF calculates that an idling car uses between 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon of fuel an hour.

Idling your car makes people sick. It emits hazardous pollutants linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.

Idling your car can even damage your engine. The California Energy Commission says idling leads to “the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.”

Finally, it’s against state law. Unnecessary idling for more than 3 minutes is illegal.

Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA) 22a-174-18 prohibits vehicles of all kinds from unnecessary idling for more than 3 minutes.

So whether you do this for the earth, your wallet, your health, your car or your civic duty: Please, turn off your engines. Together, we can all make the planet a little greener.

And Happy Tu B’Shevat to you all!

Pic Of The Day #648

Everybody loves the Westport Farmers’ Market. The winter version is held each Saturday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane South. (Photo/Lisa Lewin for Westport Farmers’ Market)

All Gone!

Chipper B was grounded for more than 4 months.

It took just 24 hours to turn it into just a memory.

Here are 2 photos from earlier today, off Harbor Road

(Photo/Mary Anne Mayo)

(Photo/Jill Delaney)

A hole was found in the vessel’s hull. It was declared “derelict.” Now it’s all been hauled away.

Happy sailing!

Pic Of The Day #645

Seagulls over the Saugatuck River (Photo/Leigh Gage)

Pic Of The Day #635

A couple of turkeys on Bart Shuldman’s roof. He found another 10 or 12 in his back yard. (Photo/Bart Shuldman)

Invasive Vines: If You See Something, Do Something

Darcy Sledge has lived in Westport for 30 years. She is active in several organizations — most importantly for this story, the Westport Garden Club and University of Connecticut invasive plant working group. Darcy writes:

This is the perfect time of year to check the health of your trees and shrubs.

Many trees are being smothered by invasive vines — often right under our noses.

I took a few photos in Greens Farms right before New Year’s, to show a few examples.

This is the entrance of a beautiful estate, with stone wall gates. In the foreground you see gorgeous pines. In the background, you see the same type of trees completely smothered in vines.

Vines weaken trees and shrubs. When weakened, they are the first to fall in a storm. The result is power outages, property damage and injuries.

When leaves are out, vines are hard to see. It’s easier to see them now.

I’ve gotten rid of my vines by cutting them at ground level, then cutting them again at head level. The dead ones hang in the branches, but eventually fall off.

Here’s what they look like:

(Photos/Darcy Sledge)

You  have to watch for new growth, and cut it every time. Eventually though, you get rid of the vines.

Even thick ones (called Asiatic bittersweet) can be cut with a lopper. I did it often in Winslow Park, and earned the nickname Cyndi Lopper.

Invasive vines are a rampant problem throughout the US — especially in Connecticut.

We will lose our beautiful trees and shrubs if we don’t work on getting rid of invasives. The town and state can do only so much. People need to walk their own properties on nice winter days. You may get an unhappy surprise. Landscapers may not even notice or identify owners about vines.

We talk about Westport’s changing streetscape, properties being torn down, and lovely trees being cut for new construction.

Yet our own trees may be slowly dying.

(For more information on invasive vines, click here. For more on the UConn invasive plant working group, click here.)

Supermarkets Can’t Handle Paper Bags

Alert — and frustrated — “06880” reader/shopper Bob Weingarten writes:

Several years ago Westport banned plastic shopping bags. They were replaced by paper bags. Most had paper handles, for ease of carrying.

Only one supermarket consistently provided paper bags without handles: Stop & Shop.

But a month ago, Fresh Market switched from paper bags with handles to ones without.

When Fresh Market management was asked about the switch, they said it was done by corporate, because all other Fresh Markets use plastic. That’s not really an excuse.

I no long buy more than one bag of groceries, since it is difficult to carry bags without handles. I could use a cart to my car but would rather not. It just causes congestion in the parking lot.

“06880” readers: Has the plastic bag ban worked out for you? Click “Comments” below.

Local grocery store bags — with and without handles. (Photos/Bob Weingarten)