Tag Archives: Friends of Sherwood Island

Sherwood Island Shorefest Set

Alert “06880” reader Claudia Schattman has a secret. 

It’s one she wishes more people knew about. She writes:

Many Westporters have heard of it, but very few venture across the connector and wander into Sherwood Island State Park (which is now free to all Connecticut residents with a car registered in the state). Those of us in the know, though, warmly refer to Sherwood Island as the “hidden jewel of Westport.”

The park offers 238 acres of beach, wetlands and woodlands. It is home to the 9/11 Living Memorial. On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline.

Sherwood Island is a place where tantalizing aromas of spices and herb from barbecues mix with the hum of many languages. It’s filled with children laughing and playing, friends walking and talking, and everyone enjoying this beautiful spot.

Sherwood Island scene

Now Westporters have another incentive to visit Sherwood Island. The Friends of Sherwood Island are holding their annual fundraiser — Shorefest — on Friday, September 7 (6-9 p.m., at the pavilion).

Westfair Fish & Chips is catering. Liz Gabriel and Pete Muller provide live music. The silent auction includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Copps Island Oysters, Broadway tickets to “Beautiful,” and a dinner cruise aboard a 30-foot Bahama sailboat.

All proceeds support the Sherwood Island Nature Center, summer internships for students, and Friends’ projects to help maintain and enhance the park’s unique environment and habitat. A donation opportunity is available to restore trees lost to storms and aging, in the West Beach Grove area.

(Click here for tickets and more information.)

1 Mosaic, 100 Trees

Visitors to the Sherwood Island pavilion know Claudia Schattman’s artwork.

Now her many fans can do more than admire her next project. They can donate funds — not to her “tree” mosaic-in-the-making, but to help plant them.

Friends of Sherwood Island is sponsoring a “100 Trees for 100 Years” drive. The goal is to help purchase trees, shrubs and grasses to replace the dozens of mature trees lost to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and mitigate significant habitat loss.

The mosaic is a collection of plates, teapots, stained glass and knickknacks Schattman collected at tag sales, flea markets, even local beaches.

Donor names will be placed around the perimeter (minimum donation: $275). To donate, click here.

Claudia Schattman’s tree mosaic.

Sherwood Island Shines Today

You could say that Sherwood Island made lemons lemonade out of lemonade lemons.

A better analogy would be: The state park’s admirers and friends made foie gras out of goose poop.

Less than 2 weeks ago, “06880” published alert reader Ellen Bowen’s complaint that the 9/11 Living Memorial there — Connecticut’s tribute to state residents lost on that tragic day 15 years ago — was an unkempt disgrace.

Very quickly, several things happened.

Tony Palmer — owner of T. Palmer Landscaping and Anthony’s Nursery and Garden Center, both in Westport — donated a 3-man crew. Working gratis for 2 days, they weeded, pruned rose bushes, cleaned and helped the overworked, under-budgeted park staff get the memorial in tip-top shape.

Tony returned this week, with a mission. He made sure that everything was perfect for today’s 5:30 p.m. ceremony.

Other volunteers turned out yesterday, to weed, clear and prune a large garden bed that visitors pass on their way to the memorial.

The garden bed on the way to the Sherwood Island 9/11 memorial.

The garden bed on the way to the Sherwood Island 9/11 memorial.

Bowen’s story also brought attention to Friends of Sherwood Island. The non-profit does important, seldom-noticed work everywhere in the park. Its annual fundraiser — ShoreFest — is set for 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Local businesses and individuals rushed to offer goods and services for the silent auction.

In addition, a major donation — for ongoing plantings — was made to the Friends’ tree committee.

It’s easy for Westporters to overlook Sherwood Island. Residents may not realize Connecticut’s oldest state park is also home to our 9/11 memorial — and a robust organization that serves the entire 220-acre property.

Thanks to Ellen Bowen’s alert, more Westporters now do.

And many are doing whatever they can to help make Sherwood Island sparkle.

9/11 Memorial: Friends Of Sherwood Island Respond

The other day, “06880” reader Ellen Bowen complained about the unkempt, goose-drop-filled state of the 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park.

Yesterday, Friends of Sherwood Island State Park co-president Liz-Ann Koos said:

First, it is  very important that you understand  some facts about birds nests. If house sparrows are making nests in the indoor memorial, they can be removed, even while they are building their nests. They are one of the few bird species not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

A volunteer Friends member (and dedicated birder) will check and remove whatever  nests are in the 9/11 Memorial area now. However, if a protected bird such as a swallow built a nest, nothing can be done until after the birds leave the nests. Most migratory birds have left their nests by now.

Second, please understand that controlling the Canadian geese is impossible. No one, including the Town of Westport, can remove every goose dropping..

The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)

The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)

Third, the Sherwood Island supervisor and his staff work  hard to keep the Park looking its best, in spite of the many visitors leaving garbage all over the grounds and not using dumpsters. You are correct that the  responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the 9/11 Memorial  is indeed part of the staff’s responsibilities. Rest assured it will be in order for the September 8 (5:30 p.m.) service.

However, I am sure that you have been reading about the huge budget cuts impacting the size of the staff and other matters relevant to your concerns, which brings me to my last point.

One of the reasons for the founding of Friends of Sherwood Island State Park was to supply assistance to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in the form of advocacy, volunteers, and funds (through memberships, donations, fundraising projects and events). We need concerned people like yourself to join our ranks to produce positive changes and support for our beautiful Sherwood Island  State Park, where state budget dollars fall short.

Friends of Sherwood Island logoPlease consider buying a ticket or two for our upcoming ShoreFest in the Pavilion (strikingly reconstructed including solar-heated year-round restrooms, with your tax dollars) on Friday September 9 (6 to 9 p.m.). Proceeds from the silent auction will be specifically targeted for our 100 Trees for 100 Years Project, aimed at replacing and maintaining trees and shrubs that were devastated in major storms.

Please go to our website (www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org) to learn about joining Friends, or purchasing tickets for ShoreFest (where you will have an opportunity to discuss your concerns with the park supervisor, State legislators who have adopted the park, and our board and other Friends).

Please contact me directly at  lizannlwv@gmail.com if you would like to know more.

Ellen Bowen: Sherwood Island 9/11 Memorial Now An “Embarrassment”

“06880” reader Ellen Bowen recently visited  Sherwood Island State Park. She was stunned at the condition of the state’s official 9/11 memorial. Among the Connecticut residents honored there are several Westporters. 

With the 15th anniversary of that tragic day near, Ellen writes:

Imagine my surprise and disgust to find the plaques covered with goose poop,  and the walkways and grassy areas (including near the water fountain and picnic area) overrun and filled with weeds. The condition was disgusting. And I paid $9 to park.

(Photos/Ellen Bowen)

(Photos/Ellen Bowen)

I am appalled and saddened that a beautiful and contemplative place remembering the victims and heroes who lost their lives that day has become an embarrassment to our town and the state of Connecticut. I will share some of the pictures I took with the Friends of Sherwood Island, local and state government officials, and anyone else I can think of.

I hope they clean it up in time for the governor and 9/11 families’ visit, and the memorial service, on September 8. But I sincerely hope they consider maintaining the memorial on a year-round basis, and not just “for show.”

Chamber Project Sells Westport To Sherwood Island Visitors

Sherwood Island — Connecticut’s 1st state park — covers 234 acres of Westport’s finest beaches, wetlands and woodlands.

But — except for some very dedicated Friends of Sherwood Island members, and a few folks who make it their own special playground — it might as well be in Westport, Massachusetts. Or Westport, New Zealand.

The isolation cuts both ways. I bet the only bit of Westport that 99% of all visitors know is the brief stretch of the Connector that gets them to and from I-95. The other 1% are people who miss the ramp, and end up mistakenly on the Post Road.

Sherwood Island State Park -- right here in Westport.

Sherwood Island State Park — right here in Westport.

If Matthew Mandell has his way, that will change.

As executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, he’s all about promoting local businesses. He sees 500,000 people get off I-95 each year, with the sole aim of visiting Sherwood Island.

But how to get those potential customers to see Westport?

This week, 40,000 copies of a handsome brochure will be delivered to Sherwood Island. The tri-fold includes a brief history of the park; a detailed map, showing fishing and model aircraft areas; the Nature Center and 9/11 Memorial, bathrooms and more. QR codes take users to a map of Westport, and the Chamber’s restaurant and visitor guides. Park-goers will see there’s far more here than just a highway interchange.

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

The brochures — produced in conjunction with Friends group — will be distributed free. Ads — from Earthplace, realtors, a college counselor, bank and McDonald’s (“only 2 miles from the beach!”) — cover the cost.

Sherwood Island brochure - front and back

Westport Downtown Merchants Association president Randy Herbertson did the graphics gratis.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection loves the concept. Now they want other communities with state parks to produce their own maps.

It’s a win-win: great for local merchants, and for visitors looking to do more than just drive in and out.

Who knows? If it’s successful, maybe the Chamber can do another map next year — for all the out-of-towners who have discovered Compo Beach.

Happy Trails!

Alert — and environmentally conscious — “06880” reader Gene Borio reports:

Westport should be proud!

Sherwood Island State Park’s participation in CT Trails Day was spectacular this year. Connecticut held the largest number of events of any state — by far —  on National Trails Day this past weekend (a nationwide celebration of trails of all kind).

On Saturday, Sherwood Island held probably the widest variety of “trails” in the country. Participants followed them by air, land and sea. Attendees learned about archaeology, ornithology, zoology, history, aerodynamics–and just plain had a lot of fun in the sun.

Not too many Westporters spend a lot of time at the state park in our back yard.

Even if it does lead the nation in the very important category of trail events.

Friends of Sherwood Island sponsored this weekend's Trails Day.

Friends of Sherwood Island sponsored this weekend’s Trails Day.

For more photos of the event, click here.

Discover Sherwood Island — Especially This Saturday

If you’re like (too) many Westporters, you’ve never been to Sherwood Island.*

You should visit Connecticut’s 1st state park** soon.

Like, Saturday. This Saturday (June 4, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Friends of Sherwood Island logoFriends of Sherwood Island — a group filled with Westporters*** — is sponsoring a “CT Trails Day.” There are bird, archaeology and nature walks and talks; nature/bird photo tips with Westport native AJ Hand; a BYO kayak paddle adventure off of the beach — and flight simulators in the morning, followed by a hands-on flying experience and an air show by the Fly Guys.

That group of 100+ men, women and children has flown at Sherwood Island for nearly 50 years.

But this is the park’s 1st-ever air show. It includes drones, radio-controlled helicopters, aerobatic planes and gliders.

Two of the Fly Guys, at Sherwood Island.

Two of the Fly Guys, at Sherwood Island.

The best part: It’s all free. Here’s the secret code to get in to Sherwood Island without paying: “CT Trails Day.”

For details and a full schedule, click here. Pre-registration is appreciated; email alisonrivard5@gmail.com, or call 203-955-1943.

*That 3rd grade field trip does not count.

** If you’re embarrassed to ask: It’s located at the end of the Sherwood Island connector, just past the I-95 Exit 18 on/off ramp.

*** Who DO spend a lot of time there.



Happy 100th, Sherwood Island!

Next year, Sherwood Island celebrates 100 years as a state park. (At least, 1914 was the year Connecticut acquired the initial parcels for what — 23 years later — eventually became our 1st state park.)

In anticipation of the centennial celebration, the Friends of Sherwood Island will install educational panels on the history of the Sherwood family. Daniel Sherwood and his wife Catherine Burr settled the area in 1761. They farmed onions and potatoes, and harvested oysters.

An aerial view of Sherwood Island State Park.

An aerial view of Sherwood Island State Park.

But before the signs can be installed for a historical walking tour, an archaeological survey must verify the locations of houses and barns.

Next Wednesday (May 22, 10 a.m.), Connecticut state archaeologist Nick Bellantoni will make a presentation and inspection visit. The public is invited to attend his free lecture and walk-about tour. Entrance to the park is also free.

Elwood Betts will be there. The 87-year-old Westporter remembers where the Sherwood house was; he visited the farm complex as a 6-year-old. (Just as notably, he’s a Sherwood descendant.)

In preparation for Wednesday's event, Elwood Betts (left) shows archaeologist Ernie Wiegand where the 1787 Sherwood house stood.

In preparation for Wednesday’s event, Elwood Betts (left) shows archaeologist Ernie Wiegand where the 1787 Sherwood house stood.

Archaeology professor Ernie Wiegand will exhibit Native American artifacts from Sherwood Island and nearby Green’s Farms. He’ll also help identify arrowheads, stone axe heads or other artifacts residents have picked up over the years.

Sherwood Island is an enormously popular state park — and a spot many Westporters have never set foot in. You may not be able to make it to next Wednesday’s event — but don’t wait another 100 years to go.

Nature Center Hides In Plain Sight

Add to the many things Westporters don’t know about Sherwood Island State Park — its various beaches, sand dunes and 9/11 Memorial — one more: There’s a Nature Center on site.

A very interesting and comprehensive Nature Center, in fact.

A cooperative effort of the state Department of Environmental Protection and  Friends of Sherwood Island, its now in its 3rd year. A wide variety of displays and exhibits help visitors understand the rich diversity of plant and animal life inhabiting the park.

Few of those visitors are from Westport. For us, Sherwood Island is both out of sight and out of mind.

But a few Staples students find it. They’re interns, working with DEP staff and docents.

Sherwood Island Nature Center intern Taylor McNair shows a snake to visitors. (Photo/Stevie Klein)

Taylor McNair — a June SHS grad headed for Emory University — heard about the Nature Center from his friend Jon Wormser. Jon’s mother is a Friend of Sherwood Island, and Jon has worked there for several years.

Taylor, Jon and the other interns show off animals: turtles, snakes, crabs, snails, lobsters, sea urchins, native fish and many other sea creatures. They explain everything that grows and lives in the marshes and Sound. They help kids enjoy the “touch tank.”

“People think Long Island Sound isn’t very interesting. But it really is,” Taylor says.

One of the many attractions at the Sherwood Island Nature Center.

He’s learned plenty, by reading and listening to the directors and other interns. Some interns are part of the aquaculture project at Trumbull High School’s regional agricultural and biotech magnet school.

Ellie Gilchrist is one of those students. She volunteered at the Nature Center for several years. This year, she’s old enough to be paid.

“I’ve learned about so many creatures in the Sound,” she says. “I also learned to deal with people — naturalists, co-workers, kids and visitors.”

She loves her internship, but wishes there were more bilingual programs. Many visitors speak Spanish.

Taylor, Ellie and the other interns also help out with — and learn from — the free Thursday lecture series. Topics range from raptors to undersea diving.

The Sherwood Island Nature Center.

This Thursday (July 19, 6 p.m.), Marilyn Bakker speaks on the 23-year fight, from 194 to 1937, during which advocates for Connecticut’s 1st state park battled neighboring landowners, real estate developers and the town of Westport.

It’s a little-remembered part of Westport history. Perhaps that story will entice some local residents out to the Sherwood Island.

If they go, odds are good they’ll stay for the bivalves, birds and fascinating beach exhibits.

(The Nature Center is located between East Beach and the salt marsh nature trail. Hours are are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Some of the Sherwood Island Nature Center interns pose with Senator Richard Blumenthal (the only one wearing a tie) and director Rindy Higgins (far right).