Sunday, March 16, 2008

What ATVs Can Do

Some people think of the ATV problem as one of simple "trespassing". On the contrary, ATVs and dirtbikes cause serious damage to parkland. Unchecked, the ruts grow deeper and deeper, like the ones here at Fountain Lake in Seymour, which were over 3 feet deep. Even if all ATV usage stopped here today, these unsightly ruts will be visible for hundreds of years. Sometimes the ruts from just a few passes can cause damage that lasts for decades.

Here's a video of ATVers in Oxford tresspassing on private property that has become a regional destination for ATVers, including some from Shelton who drive across the city using powerlines, church property, open space, and RR tracks to get there.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Stratford Point

Most people around here have been to Short Beach in Stratford at one time or another, but very few know that you can walk south along the shore for about a mile to the Stratford Point Lighthouse, built in 1881.

From Short Beach you can see the former Remington Gun Club at the point, the really big house sitting all by itself. The Gun Club was shut down due to lead contamination, and the owner Dupont was ordered to remediate the site, which it did. The land was then going to be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an addition to the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge, who was to turn the site into a public access and educational facility. However, the land transfer has stalled due to remaining contamination. The site is none-the-less being used as a scientific research facility as well as a local public access point, although it is not advertised as such.

When you get near the Gun Club, the shore will steepen and is covered by rip-rap. At that point, you have the option of walking along a mowed grassy path at the top of the slope, which is what most people do because it's a beautiful walk. You'll round the point and head straight to the lighthouse, which is occupied by a Coast Guard family and strictly off-limits (a fence surrounds the lighthouse complex). This spot is a wonderful location for a picnic.

The Point marks the tip of the Housatonic River Delta. Yes, we have a delta in Connecticut.

If you go, be sure to respect any signs or barricades that may be installed to protect the Plovers or ongoing scientific studies. An alternative access point is on Prospect Drive, just past Riverdale Lane, at a pull-off lined by boulders. Walk to the left of the chain-link fence and follow the heavily-used trail down to the water (this avoids the beach fee).

Here's a pair of Long-Tailed Ducks near the lighthouse. These are sea ducks that breed in the Arctic and can dive as much as 200 feet to find food such as snails.