Tag Archives: Jackson Cregan

Sherwood Island Dune Restoration Takes Root

Twenty years ago, officials at Sherwood Island bulldozed all their dunes away. They wanted state park visitors to have an unimpeded Long Island Sound view, from the parking lot and concession stand.

It was not a great idea. It affected the coastal wildlife habitat, and lessened the shoreline’s resiliency to rising seas.

Five years ago, Friends of Sherwood Island board member Michele Sorensen wondered how her group could improve the dune habitat. Ecologist Juliana Barrett met Michele and then-park supervisor Jim Beschle on April 5, 2017. She said that to build out the dunes, they had to plant dominant grass before April 15, or after November 15.

That afternoon Michele ordered 800 American Beach Grass culms. She corraled up a small team of volunteers — including 2 grandchildren — to spend 4 days during Easter, planting.

Michele Sorensen, at the start of the dune restoration project.

The project has continued ever since.

Every year during Fairfield County Giving Day, the “Friends Garden Team” fundraises to buy plants, tools, signs and supplies. Michele provides a matching grant of up to $1,000. Last February’s effort was the best yet.

Westporter Bill Yaffa — whose company sells erosion control cloth — suggested using it at the park. An experimental sand patch had a 97% success rate (far better than the usual 60-85%). This spring the group will expand the areas they plant in sixfold, using jute cloth.

The dune restoration project, last August.

Since 2019 — when Michele became a University of Connecticut advanced master gardener — she has been assisted by nearly a dozen other master gardener graduates and interns from around Fairfield County, and local helpers like Westporter Lavinia Larsson and Barbara Dahm, now in her 80s.

Barbara’s connection with Sherwood Island dates back to when her parents brought breakfast, lunch and dinner, spending all day at the beach.

Current Staples High School sophomore Jackson Cregan and his father Johannes were key members of last November and April’s plantings too.

Jackson Cregan, hard at work.

Birds, butterflies and many other creatures have taken advantage of the restored dune habitat.

And no one has complained that they can’t see the shore from the parking lot or concession stand.

Friends Garden Team members Heather Williams (Westport Shellfish Commission) and Westporter Barrie Holmes, with hundreds of plantings.

Roundup: Black Bear, Private Ryan, Chad Knight …


A black bear has been making its way south, from northern Fairfield County. On Saturday, it roamed around the Cranbury area of Norwalk.

Yesterday, the medium-sized mammal lumbered into Westport. Stella Wong spotted it in her Old Hill back yard, around 9 a.m.

“It looked healthy and beautiful,” she reports. Then it headed downhill, toward Wilton Road.

(Photo/Stella Wong)

Later yesterday, the bear was spotted at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, near Mahackeno.

No word on whether it had a membership pass.


Last night’s Remarkable Theater showing of “Saving Private Ryan” was rained out.

It’s rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1, 8 p.m.). So you can extend your Memorial Day weekend one day.

Click here for ticket information, and future shows.


Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.

Jackson Cregan remembers.

The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:

“100%  of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.

“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.

Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.

Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.

Jackson Cregan, with Michele Sorenson.


Congratulations to Chad Knight!

Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.  

Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.

Chad Knight


Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.

News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.

Click here for the report.

Screenshot from yesterday’s News12 report.


The Sunrise Rotary Club has missed 2 years’ worth of Great Duck Race fundraising efforts. Which means we haven’t seen Sunny the Duck bobbing in the Saugatuck River for 2 years either.

But the club is marching in today’s Memorial Day parade. And they’re marching with “Little Ralphie,” Sunny’s smaller counterpart.

Club members inflated Ralphie yesterday. They had a blast.

From left: Sunrise Rotary president George Masumian; members Jake Labate, Mark Mathias and Mike Hibbard. Little Ralphie is behind them. (Drone photo/Mark Mathias)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes this mommy and her 10 babies. Can you find them all?

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.

Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.

I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)