CLINTON LAND CONSERVATION TRUST, INC.
49th ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
FOR THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 to AUGUST 31, 2016
We started our fiscal year with investments and cash totaling $494,665.41 and ended our fiscal year on August 31, 2016 with investments and cash totaling $510,301.38. This represents a net increase in our endowment portfolio of $15,635.97.
Dividends and interest earned on investments this year totaled $8,492.11. We received $3,687.14 in membership dues and for general donations, which include donations for the David and Alice Crosby Scholarship, land acquisition, programs and maintenance. We also received a $500.00 donation from Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale and $430.34.00 in grant money was received from the United States Department of Agriculture. Additionally, this year we received a generous donation from the Mays family in the amount of $25,000.00 in honor of Victor and Lynnabeth Mays.
We had operating expenses of $21,010.00 this year, compared with $25,380.00 last year, which represents a decrease of $4,370.00. Expenses include costs for insurance, property maintenance, Website and network support, accounting fees, printing and postage, boundary and trail maintenance, and our annual scholarship awards. We also have an outstanding loan in the amount of $123,000, borrowed for the purchase of the Weisse-Loveday property.
The Finance Committee, which includes our treasurer Jack Breen, Ken McDonnell, Mike Houde, our bookkeeper Kathy Tessman, our accountant Dave Reynolds and Dave Adams from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, helped in compiling information for this annual report.
This report will be posted on our Website within the next week or two. We completed and filed our 990 Tax Return as required by the IRS for the previous fiscal year.
We acquired by donation a small piece of property, roughly 5,000 square feet in size, on Cedar Island that abuts an existing property we own. The total acreage now owned by the Trust is 878.37 acres. The list of properties held by the Trust is attached to this report. The Trust also owns conservation easements on five privately owned parcels representing approximately 3 acres.
STEWARDSHIP OF LAND
Vice President Frank Byrne continued as chair of our Land Management Committee, which includes Dana Whitney, Greg Mirando and Gary Stevens. Frank and his land management committee, along with our volunteers, continued their regular monthly work days held on the second Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at various properties as listed on our Website.
Land Management spent a number of workdays in the spring of 2016 working on the Elliot Preserve. We finished clearing areas of brush, saplings and deadwood, and we planted wildflower seeds on about 10,000 square feet of the property, with the emphasis on milkweed plants. Milkweed is an important part of butterfly habitat, especially the Monarch butterfly, which lay their eggs on the leaves that provide the one and only food source for the hatched caterpillars. Butterfly habitat is being lost to development all the way down the eastern part of The United States to Mexico where Monarch Butterflies migrate to every year. We are working to create hospitable habitat for these insects to thrive on while they make their incredible journey. We are seeing great results with milkweed growth at the site as well as other native flowers.
Also in the Ellliot Preserve, we installed a bench that was donated by Betty Shea in memory of her friend, Tom Gladwin.
During the summer we continued the upkeep of a walking trail that meanders through The Preserve starting at the Town Hall parking lot entrance, down to the south end of the property with spectacular views of the Indian River, Cedar Island and Long Island Sound in the distance. Many folks have helped with this, as well as other projects, but a special thanks goes to Dana Whitney, Gregg Mirando, Gary Stevens, Sally and Bill Heffernan, Yasu Ueda, Paul Egan, Diana Byrne, and Jan Frymer.
Land Management also maintained the meadow at The Jesse Buell Forest, mowing it this fall and maintaining a small trail network through the meadow for walkers and for the maintenance of the bluebird houses located there. We also maintained the Taylor Ridge entrance to the Jesse Buell Forest, mowing the roadside and keeping the entrance trail open. In addition, we have been mowing and maintaining the roadside area at The Lar Fagan Preserve and the parking area and garden at The Hammocks.
Land Management has also begun to work on our newest land acquisition, the Weiss-Loveday property. We have hiked the land and established the boundaries, and we’ve begun the process of establishing access points where trails will begin. We’ve also met with some of the adjacent property owners.
We would like to thank Melissa Evarts and her husband for volunteering their time in keeping the trails open and free of fallen trees and limbs at The Kenilworth Forest and to Paul Egan for providing similar volunteer time at The Jesse Buell Forest. These folks walk these trails and grab their chainsaws when they find a trail blocked. We are fortunate to have people like them to help with our volunteer work.
OUTREACH AND EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS
Sally Heffernan continued as chair of our Outreach Committee, which also includes Larry Ouellette, Mike Castiglione, Kim Flanagan and Dana Skidmore. This committee has been in charge of publicity and environmental education through various events throughout the year.
The 18th Annual Alice and David Crosby Scholarship was awarded this year to 2016 Morgan School graduate, Emily Popp, who is currently attending Skidmore College majoring in Biology.
The 7th annual Eunice Carter Symonds Scholarships were awarded this year. To 4th and 5th grade students at the Abraham Pierson School. The scholarship winners were Shaina Gee, Sophie Passante, Skylar Peterson, and Ruby Tuccitto. Each student attended a two-week session at the Bushy Hill Camp in Essex. Bushy Hill Camp’s program has been recognized nationally and has been used as a model for environmental camp programs across the country.
In February, the Trust again sponsored a Winter Animal Tracking Program called “Who’s Been in My Back Yard?” at the Indian River Complex. Eric Becker, former director of the Bushy Hill Camp,did an excellent job engaging and teaching a large group of kids how to identify different animal tracks in the snow.
In March we sponsored an information booth again at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Expo.
In April we sponsored the 14th annual Peeper Patrol at the Indian River Complex with Brendan Hylan of the Bushy Hill Camp. After Brendan’s indoor presentation on microorganisms frogs and amphibians found in ponds and vernal pools, the group went outside for the annual expedition into the woods and vernal pool adjacent to the playing fields.
At the end of May, Board members Mike Houde and Dana Skidmore held another of the annual field trips to the Town Beach with students from the Abraham Pierson School for the annual “Pierson Beach Day.” This year’s event again include members of The Morgan School to help with the event.
On the first weekend in June the Land Trust hosted Trail Day at the Peters Memorial Woods. Participants included a people from West Hartford, Guilford and Clinton.
From the end of June into the beginning of July, Dana Skidmore conducted another ecology camp for children ages 7 to 10. Each weekthey spent three days at the Town Beach exploring saltwater habitats and two days in Peters Woods studying vernal pools and stream ecology. The camp is co-sponsored by the Clinton Park and Recreation Department and the Trust. 52 children and 11 counselors participated. The Trust provided T-shirts for each camper along with some supplies. A slide show of the Camp’s activities can be seen on our Website.
In August the Trust co-sponsored a summer reading program with the Henry Carter Hull Library in honor of Lynnabeth Mays. The program culminated with an event entitled Animal Embassy, with Athletes of the Animal Kingdom, a live animal presentation.
In October the Outreach Committee again joined thousands of volunteers worldwide in the International Beach Clean-up Day. Board members, along with a group of volunteers and members of Clinton’s Pretty Committee collected trash from beaches along the Clinton Harbor, Hammock River and Cedar Island. Each year all the debris is categorized and documented and the results are sent to Save the Sound for analysis.
The Grand Opening of the Lucy Elliot Preserve, directly behind the Town Hall, was held on Saturday October 31, 2015. Lucy Elliott and her family donated this 17 acre gem on the Indian River overlooking Long Island Sound to the Clinton Land Conservation Trust in 2014. Lucy's ancestors acquired the land from the native chief Uncas and the property had been in her family ever since, until they donated it to the Land Trust.
Following the purchase last year of the Weiss, Loveday and Maltese properties, the Trust embarked on a town-wide fund raising effort through a mass mailing appeal that described the properties and the importance of preserving them. As of August 31, 2016, we have raised $8,430.00 to offset the cost of the purchase.
GRANTS AND LAND ACQUISITION
The only land acquisition that took place this year was a small property on Cedar Island, about 5,000 square feet in size, that was donated by Alison Lew. This property is adjacent to another small piece of property owned by the Trust.
Our secretary, Sue Savitt, has updated our membership and continues to keep it current.Our total number of active memberships of individuals, families and businesses who renew annually, plus the life memberships is 222.The breakdown of memberships is as follows:
Individual Members: 44· Family Members: 86· Life Members: 85· Business Members: 7· Individual Annual ($25)· Family Annual ($40)· Business Annual ($50)PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS
Each year I participate in the Pierson School Beach Day, a program initiated by Dana Skidmore, who is one of our Board members and also a teacher at the Pierson School. On Beach Day, the entire fourth grade walks to the Town Beach from the school to learn about, among other things, the environment. There are several stations where the students learn about oysters, jellyfish, horseshoe crabs and other wildlife found in the harbor. I talk to the students about ospreys. But before I start my talk, I tell them that if there is one thing I want them to remember from today, it is that they are a part of the web of life, not separate from it. They are not only connected to all living things on the planet--they are interconnected, because they are dependent on the health of the environment just as the environment is dependent on their care of it. This message is crucial for children to hear and understand for the sake of their health and wellbeing and for the health and wellbeing of the planet.
We live in a world where most of us are disconnected from the source of even the most basic and necessary of things. For example, our water comes from a tap or plastic bottle, our food comes from the grocery store, the light by which we see at night comes from a switch on the wall and the heat in our homes comes from the thermostat. This disconnectedness from our natural world is a trend in most western cultures.
An article entitled The Extinction of Experience; The Loss of Human and Nature Interactions, written by Soga and Kevin Gaston and published by the Ecological Society of America, speaks to this issue by alerting us that in the modern western world, fewer and fewer people, especially children, have daily contact with nature, an ongoing alienation termed the “extinction of experience.”
The article goes on to assert that the consequences of the loss of interaction with nature include deteriorating public health and well-being, reduced emotional affinity toward nature and a decline in pro-environmental attitudes and behavior, implying a cycle of disaffection toward nature.
The result of this disconnectedness has been the environmental degradation of the planet to a point where now the planet itself is reacting to the pressures of this disconnected activity.
The coming generations of children, parents, teachers and leaders would do well to embrace the words of the Suquamish Native American Chief Seattle, who in the late 1800’s said “Human kind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Michael J. Houde
President of the Clinton Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
October 25, 2016