Pollinator Pathways and Beyond : Nature in your yard

(or deck… or windowsill) “

By Marca Leigh

By now perhaps you’ve been hearing about all the pollinator gardens popping up around Stratford, along the northeast corridor, and now the rest of the country. What are these gardens exactly, and why are they important? How can we, both as residents and government officials in the town of Stratford, implement even more innovative and comprehensive planning and legislation to join a fast growing movement to help our native local ecosystems?

The pollinator pathway initiative began here in Connecticut! You can read all about their beginnings at https://www.pollinator-pathway.org/

These gardens are designed with mainly native plants and flowers to provide nectar and pollen, but most importantly to be host plants to our native insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, skippers, etc.

While there are some beneficial annuals, native plants are particularly important because they co-evolved over millions of years in tandem with our native insects. For instance, the nonnative butterfly bush Buddelia (although beautiful and popular with nectaring pollinators) does not provide a home for any of our native insects, as it is originally from Asia.

Milkweed, however, is home to dozens of species, including the magnificent Monarch butterfly! I sometimes like to refer to milkweed as the “all night diner” of the insect world, as it provides food and home to so many. Monarch butterflies can ONLY lay their eggs on milkweed. Without milkweed there are no monarchs!

Many native species specialize on specific plants. The stunningly blue Pipevine Swallowtail uses only – you guessed it- Pipevine- as it’s host plant. Without Pipevine there are no Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies.

One of the reasons for the recent collapse in the monarch population is due to the eradication of milkweeds from our farms and roadsides. Meadows and wildflower fields are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

With initiatives like the Pollinator Pathways and Home Grown National Park (https://homegrownnationalpark.org/),we are slowly bringing them back from the brink. Planting milkweed and other native host plants in home, town, roadside and school gardens are making a difference and linking together to form a “pathway” so they don’t have to fly endlessly to find a place to lay eggs or stop for a nectar break, especially during migration.
They still face challenges such as pesticides, climate change and loss of habitat. We can help by creating even a small habitat and eliminating the use of pesticides (even organic pesticides such as BT kills butterfly caterpillars).

The Longbrook Park Pollinator garden, which was planted this past April, has already become home to the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, who laid her eggs on a fennel plant sometime last week. They will also lay eggs on wild carrot (Queen Anne ’s lace), dill, rue, and golden Alexander. Look for bright yellow green patterned caterpillars in the coming week.

As for the Monarchs, be sure to keep an eye out in September as they make their way back south!

In addition to pollinator gardens, planting native trees such as oaks and wild cherries, called “anchor species”, will also boost the caterpillar population which in turn will feed birds. One oak can provide over 400 species of caterpillars. Caterpillars are basically baby food for birds, as baby birds cannot eat birdseed. If you love having birds on your property, plant these tree species and keep your tall healthy trees. Chickadees need 750 caterpillars PER DAY to feed a nest of babies!
They will thank you by choosing to nest nearby.

But why is any of this important? We all know that the honeybee is important for honey production and pollinating our crops, but surprisingly the honeybee is actually not native to the United States. Honeybees are from Europe. While they have their place here (who doesn’t love honey?) the real focus of these gardens is to plant native and remove invasive species such as oriental bittersweet and burning bush.

They are called “invasive” because they are now finding their way into our wild local ecosystems and displacing our native plants, which means fewer homes for native insects and caterpillars, which means fewer birds. The balance becomes disrupted.
According to a study by Cornell, bird populations have dropped dramatically since the 1970s. We have lost 3 billion birds in the last few decades. Causes are habitat loss (trees and meadows) lack of food (insects and wild plants ) and once again: pesticides. Climate change is also playing a part.

We are also experiencing an “insect apocalypse”. This is not hyperbole, many articles have recently been written on the subject, but one only has to take note of the lack of needing to clean their windshields after driving on an open road. When was the last time you squeegeed iridescent green splotches and squished wings from the driver’s side? It used to be a common task during road trips. Not anymore.

So we know pollinators are important for our crops to keep us alive. We know they provide us with their natural beauty which in turn brings us peace and calm. But scientists are now learning that humans are truly part of a web of BIODIVERSITY. Loss of species and habitat are both figuratively and literally causing a “butterfly effect.”
Our ecosystems, both local and global, our soil, air and water, even our climate are all impacted. While it may seem preposterous that losing just one species can have such a dramatic effect, consider the ongoing chronicles of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park which are bringing back balance after they were eradicated in the 1930s.

“It is like kicking a pebble down a mountain slope where conditions were just right that a falling pebble could trigger an avalanche of change,”…. “What we’re finding is that ecosystems are incredibly complex”.

As we view the world around us, even in our own yards, we might consider making more room for nature to help keep our own local ecosystems in balance. Giving a leg up to our native species can help defend their decline in the wake of the invasive spotted lantern fly, Asian jumping worms, and ash borers.

In Connecticut, over 600 species are threatened endangered or of special concern. Eight of them are bat species (more on our nocturnal pollinators later). Our shoreline habitats are at a critical loss. Stratford can help turn it around by doing even more to preserve their shoreline, their inland wetlands and their wooded lots, no matter how large or small, from pollution and development. One way would be by implementing an official Land Trust to protect the last wild places in Stratford from being paved over and forever lost. If we are to do this we must act quickly, as there has been a recent “development boom,” and several natural places are already gone.

We can support biodiversity here in Stratford. Just planting one native host plant outside your window can make a difference. Learning more is the first step. Happy gardening!

Sources:
https://ctconservation.org/wp-content/uploads/What_is_a_Land_Trust.pdf
https://portal.ct.gov/-media/DEEP/wildlife/pdf_files/outreach/EndangeredSpeciespdf.pdf

Further reading sources by wildlife ecologist and entomologist Doug Tallamy:
https://www.timberpress.com/authors/douglas-w-tallamy
http://www.pollinatorconservationassociation.org/the-doug-tallamy-page.html

Find lists of some of CT native plants here:
https://plantnative.org/rpl-nes.htm

Learn about Monarch Butterflys
https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/monarch_butterfly/
https://www.saveourmonarchs.org/
https://xerces.org/monarchs

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/bring-birds-back/
https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/the-insect-apocalypse-our-world-will-grind-to-a-halt-without-them
https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wildlife/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem/

VAX FACTS

Confirmed Cases Of Covid-19 In Stratford As Of Today
Number of cases in the past seven days: 70
Percent Positivity in the past seven days: 11.9%
Total Cumulative Cases: 14,311

There have been 201 deaths to date. The State is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of July 14th, 79% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with at least a first dose.
CDC Recommends Moderna for those Aged 6-17

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine be used as an option for children ages 6 through 17 years, in addition to its already recommended use in children 6 months through 5 years and adults 18 years and older. The ACIP recommendation comes after a thorough review of the scientific evidence demonstrating safety and efficacy and supports the use of the vaccine among those 6 through 17 years of age. CDC recommends that Moderna COVID-19 vaccine be used for individuals 6 through 17 years of age to better protect them from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend children 6 months through 5 years of age receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC now recommends that all children 6 months through 5 years of age receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to better protect them from COVID-19.
All children, including those who have already had COVID-19, should get vaccinated. Although most children have only mild symptoms when infected, COVID-19 can cause some children to become very sick, even to the point of requiring hospitalization or even death.

The approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6-months old is another major step forward in the overall COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Parents have many options for where to get a COVID-19 vaccine for their child including:
Pediatricians’ offices: Hundreds of pediatricians will be administering COVID-19 vaccines across Connecticut.

Pharmacies: There will be hundreds of pharmacy locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children. Pharmacies provide a safe, convenient, and easy location to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

DPH Yellow Van Clinics: The updated clinic schedule can be found at ct.gov/coronavirus

Test and Treat

Through the newly launched nationwide Test to Treat initiative, people can get tested and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – fill a prescription from a health care provider, all in one location. Test to Treat sites, located at select pharmacies, urgent care centers, and federally qualified health centers.

DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD states, “In order for COVID-19 treatments to work, they must be started early, within five days of when your symptoms start. The Test to Treat initiative provides eligible patients faster, easier access to potentially life-saving treatments.”

A web-based site locator is now available to make it easier to find Test to Treat locations. Those who may have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support locating a Test to Treat site can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8am to midnight ET, seven days a week.

The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9am to 8pm ET or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.

VAX FACTS

Confirmed Cases Of Covid-19 In Stratford

Number of cases in the past seven days: 69
Percent Positivity in the past seven days: 12.6%
Total Cumulative Cases: 14,215
Above data as of July 11, 2022.

There have been 201 deaths to date. The state is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of July 6, 2022, 79% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with at least a first dose.

CDC Recommends Moderna for those Aged 6-17

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine be used as an option for children ages 6 through 17 years, in addition to its already recommended use in children 6 months through 5 years and adults 18 years and older. The ACIP recommendation comes after a thorough review of the scientific evidence demonstrating safety and efficacy and supports the use of the vaccine among those 6 through 17 years of age. CDC recommends that Moderna COVID-19 vaccine be used for individuals 6 through 17 years of age to better protect them from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend children 6 months through 5 years of age receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC now recommends that all children 6 months through 5 years of age receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to better protect them from COVID-19.

All children, including those who have already had COVID-19, should get vaccinated. Although most children have only mild symptoms when infected, COVID-19 can cause some children to become very sick, even to the point of requiring hospitalization or even death.

The approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6-months old is another major step forward in the overall COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Parents have many options for where to get a COVID-19 vaccine for their child including:

Pediatricians’ offices: Hundreds of pediatricians will be administering COVID-19 vaccines across Connecticut.

Pharmacies: There will be hundreds of pharmacy locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children. Pharmacies provide a safe, convenient, and easy location to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

DPH Yellow Van Clinics: The updated clinic schedule can be found at ct.gov/coronavirus

Through the newly launched nationwide Test to Treat initiative, people can get tested and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – fill a prescription from a health care provider, all in one location. Test to Treat sites, located at select pharmacies, urgent care centers, and federally qualified health centers.

DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD states, “In order for COVID-19 treatments to work, they must be started early, within five days of when your symptoms start. The Test to Treat initiative provides eligible patients faster, easier access to potentially life-saving treatments.”

A web-based site locator is now available to make it easier to find Test to Treat locations. Those who may have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support locating a Test to Treat site can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8am to midnight ET, seven days a week.

The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9am to 8pm ET or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.

Stratford Volunteers Hit the Beach

Citizen Science in Stratford: Project Limulus

A Community-Based Research Program

Sources: The Power of Citizen Science: 20 Years of Horseshoe Crab Community Research Merging Conservation, Education, and Management
By: Jennifer H. Mattei, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology
Sacred Heart University
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission, Horseshoe Crab Specialist Group
www.projectlimulus.org
www.sacredheart.edu/livingshorelines

What is Project Limulus?

  • A Study Examining the Ecology of the Long Island Sound Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) population.
  • A Community-Based Research Program Providing Opportunities for All People to Become Active Contributors to On-Going Scientific Research.
  • A Data-Gathering Network to Potentially Direct Conservation Programs for the Horseshoe Crab
  • An Educational Tool to Increase Public Awareness of Limulus and its connection to the Long Island Sound Ecosystem and Human Health
  • Part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Horseshoe Crab Species Specialist Group

What is a Horseshoe Crab?

Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus Polyphemus) has existed for over 300 million years. Horseshoe crabs evolved together with trilobites. (meaning “three lobes” are extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites form one of the earliest-known groups of arthropods). While trilobites disappeared at the end of the Paleozoic era, horseshoe crabs survived.  Horseshoe crabs are commonly referred to as living fossils.

Horseshoe crabs are more related to spiders, ticks, and mites, than they are to crabs. There are only four living species of horseshoe crabs today. Limulus polyphemus resides on the eastern coastline of North and Central America, including Long Island Sound (LIS). The three remaining species inhabit the coastlines of Japan, India, and Indonesia.

They shed their exoskeleton more than one dozen times before it sexually matures. Males are smaller than females. The tail (known as a telson) helps flip the horseshoe crab over if it is stuck on its back – it is not used to sting. They have a total of nine eyes –and each eye consists of about 1,000 receptors. The diet consists mostly of clams and worms. They can live up to 20 years or more.  Spending most of the year in the Atlantic Ocean, they return each Spring to Stratford sandy beaches to breed.

Since 1998 Project Limulus has been conducting a tag and recapture analysis of adult horseshoe crabs movement patterns within LIS. Cinch tagging are white disc tags.

The tag and recapture study was designed to answer the following questions:

  • Do horseshoe crabs come back to the same beach every year to mate?
  • What are the spawning population trends; are horseshoe crab numbers increasing, decreasing or stable within LIS (Long Island Sound)?
  • What is the sex ratio of adult males to females?
  • What are the average carapace (prosoma) sizes for males and females?
  • What are the average ages of crabs living within LIS (shell condition/age estimation)
  • Do tags harm the horseshoe crabs?

Importance of Horseshoe Crabs to Humans

As well as being incredible ‘living fossils’, they have also helped to keep most of us alive. If you have ever had a vaccine, chances are that it was tested for safety using horseshoe crab blood. In addition, they are playing their part in the creation of Covid-19 vaccines.

  • Horseshoe crabs are harvested by fishermen and used as bait in the eel and conch fisheries along the Atlantic Coast.
  • In Connecticut, anglers are legally allowed to hand harvest 150 horseshoe crabs during certain times of the year. The horseshoe crab season opens on June 2nd (three days following the new moon on May 30th) and the lunar closure is in effect from June 12th – 16th, inclusive (centered on the full moon on June 14th).
  • Extensive research on horseshoe crabs eyes and vision resulted in important findings pertaining to the manufacture of surgical sutures and development of dressings for burn patients.
  • What some consider the most important finding of horseshoe crab research is related to their blood, which are used as a fast and efficient way to test pharmaceutical drugs for the presence of bacteria. Biomedical companies now harvest blood from horseshoe crabs to produce Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL). NASA is now testing the use of LAL in space to assist in the diagnosis of astronauts.
  • Horseshoe crab blood is bright blue. It contains important immune cells that are exceptionally sensitive to toxic bacteria. When those cells meet invading bacteria, they clot around it and protect the rest of the horseshoe crab’s body from toxins.

According to Dr. Mattei, in Stratford volunteers are involved with tagging (mark/recapture) studies and spawning counts . “In this study, involving Limulus polyphemus, citizen scientists placed over 76% of our 95,567 tags put out on horseshoe crabs over 20 years in Long Island Sound (LIS) and reported nearly 85% of our recaptures. Of the 15,655 marked and recaptured horseshoe crabs, 18% had moved more than 10 km and 547 individuals crossed the Sound from Connecticut (CT) shores to the north shore of Long Island, New York (NY). “

When horseshoe crab populations decline, as observed in LIS, so do the number of species and the populations of dependent predator species that feed on their eggs. The spawning index is low 0.009–0.036 female/m2 and generally has been declining over the past 10 years in LIS. The trend from over 15 years of tagging shows 20–30% of the females come up to the beach without a mate.

“In LIS, a shared resource of Connecticut and New York, horseshoe crab populations continue to be overharvested and continue to decline, which has a negative impact on biodiversity. The horseshoe crab population in the New York region is breeding well below its intrinsic rate of growth. A moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs is needed; investment in coastal habitat restoration and establishment of marine protected areas in LIS are also required for recovery of the population.” Dr. Mattei

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says, ‘The horseshoe crab is a critical link to coastal biodiversity. One of their ecological functions is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife. Its large hard shell serves as microhabitat for many other species such as sponges, mud crabs, mussels and snails.

What Do You Do If You See a Tagged Horseshoe Crab?

Project Limulus has tagged horseshoe crabs mainly with White Disc tags (or older yellow cinch tags) throughout NY and CT. If you find this tag, call 203-365-7577 to report the tag number, location (specific beach), date you found the crab, and if the crab was alive or dead.  Please return live crabs to the water

Telling Males and Females Apart

If you capture a horseshoe crab, it is fairly easy to determine its sex by flipping them over and looking at the first pair of appendages. Horseshoe crabs have a total of six pairs of appendages.

‌Males are generally smaller than females and their first pair of appendages are quite different from the females. Instead of normal pincers, males have a special set of mating claws. These are commonly referred to as “boxing gloves” which allow the male to hold onto the female during mating.

Editor’s Note:  The spawning season is over for this summer.  According to Dr. Mattei “if you are interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist you can send an email next May or follow us on the Project Limulus website for walks and talks coming up in May/June 2023!  The Maritime Aquarium also collaborates with us on program every spring!”

For additional information go to:  www.projectlimulus.org

 

Pollinator Pathways and Beyond : Nature in your yard

(or deck… or windowsill)

By Marca Leigh

By now perhaps you’ve been hearing about all the pollinator gardens popping up around Stratford, along the northeast corridor, and now the rest of the country. What are these gardens exactly, and why are they important? How can we, both as residents and government officials in the town of Stratford, implement even more innovative and comprehensive planning and legislation to join a fast growing movement to help our native local ecosystems?

The pollinator pathway initiative began here in Connecticut! You can read all about their beginnings at https://www.pollinator-pathway.org/

These gardens are designed with mainly native plants and flowers to provide nectar and pollen, but most importantly to be host plants to our native insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, skippers, etc.

While there are some beneficial annuals, native plants are particularly important because they co-evolved over millions of years in tandem with our native insects. For instance, the nonnative butterfly bush Buddelia (although beautiful and popular with nectaring pollinators) does not provide a home for any of our native insects, as it is originally from Asia.

Milkweed, however, is home to dozens of species, including the magnificent Monarch butterfly! I sometimes like to refer to milkweed as the “all night diner” of the insect world, as it provides food and home to so many. Monarch butterflies can ONLY lay their eggs on milkweed. Without milkweed there are no monarchs!

Many native species specialize on specific plants. The stunningly blue Pipevine Swallowtail uses only – you guessed it- Pipevine- as it’s host plant. Without Pipevine there are no Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies.

One of the reasons for the recent collapse in the monarch population is due to the eradication of milkweeds from our farms and roadsides. Meadows and wildflower fields are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

With initiatives like the Pollinator Pathways and Home Grown National Park (https://homegrownnationalpark.org/),we are slowly bringing them back from the brink. Planting milkweed and other native host plants in home, town, roadside and school gardens are making a difference and linking together to form a “pathway” so they don’t have to fly endlessly to find a place to lay eggs or stop for a nectar break, especially during migration.
They still face challenges such as pesticides, climate change and loss of habitat. We can help by creating even a small habitat and eliminating the use of pesticides (even organic pesticides such as BT kills butterfly caterpillars).

The Longbrook Park Pollinator garden, which was planted this past April, has already become home to the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, who laid her eggs on a fennel plant sometime last week. They will also lay eggs on wild carrot (Queen Anne ’s lace), dill, rue, and golden Alexander. Look for bright yellow green patterned caterpillars in the coming week.

As for the Monarchs, be sure to keep an eye out in September as they make their way back south!

In addition to pollinator gardens, planting native trees such as oaks and wild cherries, called “anchor species”, will also boost the caterpillar population which in turn will feed birds. One oak can provide over 400 species of caterpillars. Caterpillars are basically baby food for birds, as baby birds cannot eat birdseed. If you love having birds on your property, plant these tree species and keep your tall healthy trees. Chickadees need 750 caterpillars PER DAY to feed a nest of babies!
They will thank you by choosing to nest nearby.

But why is any of this important? We all know that the honeybee is important for honey production and pollinating our crops, but surprisingly the honeybee is actually not native to the United States. Honeybees are from Europe. While they have their place here (who doesn’t love honey?) the real focus of these gardens is to plant native and remove invasive species such as oriental bittersweet and burning bush.

They are called “invasive” because they are now finding their way into our wild local ecosystems and displacing our native plants, which means fewer homes for native insects and caterpillars, which means fewer birds. The balance becomes disrupted.

According to a study by Cornell, bird populations have dropped dramatically since the 1970s. We have lost 3 billion birds in the last few decades. Causes are habitat loss (trees and meadows) lack of food (insects and wild plants ) and once again: pesticides. Climate change is also playing a part.

We are also experiencing an “insect apocalypse”. This is not hyperbole, many articles have recently been written on the subject, but one only has to take note of the lack of needing to clean their windshields after driving on an open road. When was the last time you squeegeed iridescent green splotches and squished wings from the driver’s side? It used to be a common task during road trips. Not anymore.

So we know pollinators are important for our crops to keep us alive. We know they provide us with their natural beauty which in turn brings us peace and calm. But scientists are now learning that humans are truly part of a web of BIODIVERSITY. Loss of species and habitat are both figuratively and literally causing a “butterfly effect.”
Our ecosystems, both local and global, our soil, air and water, even our climate are all impacted. While it may seem preposterous that losing just one species can have such a dramatic effect, consider the ongoing chronicles of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park which are bringing back balance after they were eradicated in the 1930s.

“It is like kicking a pebble down a mountain slope where conditions were just right that a falling pebble could trigger an avalanche of change,”…. “What we’re finding is that ecosystems are incredibly complex”.

As we view the world around us, even in our own yards, we might consider making more room for nature to help keep our own local ecosystems in balance. Giving a leg up to our native species can help defend their decline in the wake of the invasive spotted lantern fly, Asian jumping worms, and ash borers.

In Connecticut, over 600 species are threatened endangered or of special concern. Eight of them are bat species (more on our nocturnal pollinators later). Our shoreline habitats are at a critical loss. Stratford can help turn it around by doing even more to preserve their shoreline, their inland wetlands and their wooded lots, no matter how large or small, from pollution and development. One way would be by implementing an official Land Trust to protect the last wild places in Stratford from being paved over and forever lost. If we are to do this we must act quickly, as there has been a recent “development boom,” and several natural places are already gone.

We can support biodiversity here in Stratford. Just planting one native host plant outside your window can make a difference. Learning more is the first step. Happy gardening!

Sources:
https://ctconservation.org/wp-content/uploads/What_is_a_Land_Trust.pdf
https://portal.ct.gov/-media/DEEP/wildlife/pdf_files/outreach/EndangeredSpeciespdf.pdf

Further reading sources by wildlife ecologist and entomologist Doug Tallamy:
https://www.timberpress.com/authors/douglas-w-tallamy
http://www.pollinatorconservationassociation.org/the-doug-tallamy-page.html

Find lists of some of CT native plants here:
https://plantnative.org/rpl-nes.htm

Learn about the Monarch Butterfly
https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/monarch_butterfly/
https://www.saveourmonarchs.org/
https://xerces.org/monarchs

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/bring-birds-back/
https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/the-insect-apocalypse-our-world-will-grind-to-a-halt-without-them
https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wildlife/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem/

Ask the Registrar

Your place for answers about voting and local elections in Stratford.

By Registrar James Simon (D)
July 2022 Edition
jsimon@townofstratford.com

Q: Why don’t newspapers print those old-fashioned Voter Guides that they used to do, so we know what to expect on Election Day in Stratford?

The Connecticut Post has done a terrific job of providing such information for the Aug. 9th Democratic and Republican primary elections in Stratford and elsewhere. Take a look:  https://www.ctinsider.com/projects/politics/2022/ct-primaries-2022-voter-guide/?src=rdctppromostrip&_ga=2.49873317.220553118.1657450331-1169421806.1550499104&fbclid=IwAR32nsPkUWmfBwUzztAEEta4FCOfz82Vg7F8lEKeZA8Ef3iyHXwZ884rj2o

The Stratford Crier and The Patch also have offered, online, useful question-and-answer sessions with candidates in the past. Look for them as the Nov. 8th  general election approaches.

Q: Is it true you cannot use an absentee ballot to vote in primary elections?

That would come as a surprise to the 86 Stratford registered voters who applied for and have already received an Absentee Ballot (as of July 13th).  Given summer vacations, I expect more use of the ABs leading up to the Aug. 9th primary.

To apply for an AB, contact Town Clerk Susan Pawluk, 203-385-4020 spawluk@townofstratford.com.

The state has again relaxed requirements to qualify for such a ballot. Under one of the changes, ABs can be used by people with a sickness, or a physical disability — or anyone who cares for a person with such medical problems.

Reminder: you must be a member of a political party to vote in that party’s primary. It is too late to switch from one major party to another. If you are currently registered as Unaffiliated, you can switch until the day before the primary election on Aug. 9. To check your registration: https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1yUL06V2ci3TmhQDbOL-b0tv4nOnowc38XOINlE6L33A3aJ5ifObNeX3k

Q: Will those white Ballot Drop Boxes be available again, on the side of Town Hall, for absentee ballots?

The Drop Boxes are now mandated, under state law, for every Connecticut election. I am not aware of any local voter who reported a problem in using them, even in the 2020 presidential election when many of the 10,000 Stratford voters using Absentee Ballots also used the Drop Boxes.

Q: I hate to wait in line to vote. How can I best avoid it?

It should not be a problem in the Aug. 9th primary election, when less than a quarter of Stratford’s registered voters traditionally take part. But in all elections, turnout tends to be highest from 6-8 a.m., at noontime, and 5-7 p.m.

Q: Will we be getting a new Connecticut Secretary of State?

You already did. Starting July 1st, former Associate Attorney General Mark F. Kohler began serving as head of the office due to the resignation of Denise Merrill, who left six months early due to personal reasons. Kohler is not seeking election to the position in November, so it is an open seat that has attracted multiple candidates from both parties.

In the Aug. 9th primary, Democrats can choose between Stephanie Thomas and Maritza Bond. Republicans will choose among Dominic Rapini, Terri Wood and Brock Weber. See the link to The Connecticut Post voter guide for background information on the candidates.

One big job for whomever is elected Secretary of State: decide how to replace Connecticut’s aging, but still very effective, voting machines. The state wisely chose the optical scanning approach, with paper ballots to provide safeguards and facilitate recounts, some 15 years ago. But the current model is no longer manufactured, and the outgoing Secretary of State decided to let her successor make the decision.

More Questions? Please send them to Registrar Jim Simon: jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 2, No. 7; July 2022)

  • Our ROV website for additional Information:

http://www.townofstratford.com/content/39832/39846/39935/default.aspx

 

 

 

Notable Stratford Residents: Billie Howell

First Girl Scout Camp in America

By David Wright
Member Board of Governors of the Stratford Historical Society,

Recently, we discovered that Billie Howell created, ostensibly, the first Girl Scout Camp in America.  Before further expounding upon that achievement, let us recall some of Billie Howell’s plethora of accomplishments.

Billie, a Vaudeville comedienne, moved to town when she was just 22 years of age and resided with her husband, Richard Howell, in a beautiful mansion, which, at the time, was located at 1585 Elm Street (corner of South Avenue and Elm Street).

Billie’s husband, Richard, was the owner of the Bridgeport Herald and had been the reporter on the scene of Gustave Whitehead’s historic flights in 1901 in Fairfield, Bridgeport, and Stratford.

Billie had no children of her own, but she rapidly became known as the “big sister” of Stratford’s children.  Her particular focus was ensuring that the roughly 400 hungry children in the town in the early 1920’s were properly nourished.

To that end, Billie created the Boys and Girls Useful Club in 1918, comprised of some 45 Stratford children, whose primary goal was to grow garden vegetables for the impoverished youngsters in town and to assist with the war effort.

When Billie first learned of the Girl Scout organization, sometime before 1921, she formed three Stratford Girl Scout troops: one at Sedgewick School, one in Lordship, and one at Nichols School.  The focus of these 75 girl scouts was to extend the reach of the Boys and Girls Useful club in providing sustenance for Stratford’s hungry children.

In 1922 Billie wished to create a camp for training her girl scouts and furthering their scouting skills.  There was no scout camp in Stratford at the time.  Billie leased land in Redding Ridge and created what as best we can determine, was the very first Girl Scout camp in America.

Billie built the camp with her and her husband’s private funds, and transported the girl scouts to the camp each summer at her own expense.  Because there was no other Girl Scout camp in Fairfield County, Billie offered the camp to Girl Scout troops throughout the county.

Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America in 1912.  A park was created and named for Juliette Gordon Low in the south end of Stratford by way of Town Council Ordinance in 1973.

The Juliette Low Park is located at the site of the old Sedgewick School at the corner of Woodend Road and Sedgewick Avenue.  Billie Howell, although childless herself, was president of the Sedgewick School PTA.

Billie died at the much too young age of 35.  You might think Billie’s legendary life would be well-documented in Stratford’s history.  Billie is unknown to Stratford’s written history, and to its Girl Scouts.

One marker exists for just one of Stratford’s Suffragettes, Edith Hastings.  That marker is located at Academy Hill across the street from the David Judson house.

We have proposed to the Parks & Recreation Committee of the town that we create a marker to commemorate Billie Howell, Stratford’s first Girl Scout leader, Sedgewick School PTA President, and Suffragette extraordinaire, at the site of the old Sedgewick School, now the Juliette Low Park.  We believe we can secure a grant to fund the placement of such a marker.

 

Further, we suggested that the committee consider renaming the Juliette Low Park in honor of Stratford’s first Girl Scout leader, Billie Howell.

 

 

 

Stratford and Impact of Supreme Court Concealed Weapon Decision

Sources: Milwaukee Independent, CT Patch, Government Archives, Merriam Webster Dictionary, Attorney General William Tong, Stratford Police Department

Connecticut’s gun laws won’t be immediately impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen on June 23rd, where, the Supreme Court has announced that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right.

The core argument of the decision is that gun rights are to be treated the same as other hallowed rights like the freedom of speech or freedom of religion recognized in the First Amendment.

While acknowledging the decision “could undermine” Connecticut’s gun laws, Attorney General William Tong said that his office is ready to fight to keep some of the strongest gun laws in the nation.  “We are not going back in Connecticut,” Tong said. “We will stand up and fight, and if this … decision leads to an attack on Connecticut’s gun laws, we will be the firewall, and we will do everything we can to protect Connecticut families and children, particularly kids in school, from harm’s way.”

“This decision is a radical rewrite of the Court’s prior positions on the Second Amendment and states’ rights to pass common sense gun safety legislation. We should expect a wave of new lawsuits nationwide and here in Connecticut, coordinated by gun groups like the NRA, challenging our assault weapons ban, age restrictions on gun ownership, prohibitions on guns in sensitive locations like schools, and provisions enabling public safety professionals to review the suitability of an applicant before granting a gun permit. This decision is reckless, and the consequences for public safety nationwide are dire, but it was not unexpected. We have been working closely with advocates, legislators, and other attorneys general nationwide and are ready to aggressively defend Connecticut’s laws,” said Attorney General Tong.

Attorney General Tong joined the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in this case.

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen strikes down a law that requires anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense in New York to show a specific need for doing so.

The State of New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home.  An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” The court ruled that the New York law violates a person’s Second Amendment right to bear arms

States that do not honor any other state’s concealed carry permits are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana (does not honor from Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

In order to obtain a gun permit in Stratford a person must apply to the Stratford police department, where they are fingerprinted and a background check is conducted.  If the applicant passes the application after processing is sent to state.  The state does their investigation.  If the application is denied at their level then a permit is not issues.

Stratford is able to issue a temporary permit and to renew permits.  Permits expire every 5 years.

If denied they may appeal to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, which could take up to three years for that board to hear your case.

Connecticut does not distinguish between carrying a gun openly or concealed. A person with a gun permit in Connecticut is allowed to carry a gun in public. So far this year, the state police have issued 12,124 new permits and renewed 27,395, according to state police officials.

Stratford stats for pistol permit applications for the year 2021 and current for 2022 are:

2021 there were 542 applicants for permits.

2022 there have been 274 pistol permit applications as of June 30th.

Summary of Connecticut Gun Laws

Connecticut is a may-issue state, meaning that local law enforcement has discretion in determining whether or not to issue a permit to carry a handgun to an applicant based on a “suitability clause”. The suitability clause applies both to the issuance of new permits and revocation of existing permits. There is a two-step process to obtain a permit. First, an applicant must apply for a temporary permit from the local authorities and then they must submit another application at the state level through the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).

In order to purchase a handgun, a buyer must have a Connecticut Pistol Permit (CTPP) or obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Pistol and Revolvers or Long Guns or Ammunition. A background check is required to buy a handgun from a private individual — private party firearms transfers are required to be performed by a federally licensed dealer.

Open carry and concealed carry are legal in Connecticut with a CTPP. The minimum age is 21. Connecticut residents as well as non-residents with a valid CCW license from their home state can apply for a CTPP.  Some areas are off-limits, including schools and state parks.

CTPPs require a state-approved firearms training course that includes live-fire exercises. In terms of reciprocity, Connecticut does not honor permits from any other states.

Self-Defense

The Castle Doctrine is incorporated into Connecticut law governing the use of physical force in defense of premises. Although there is no duty to retreat in a person’s home, there is a duty to retreat outside of one’s home.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Person

A person is justified in using reasonable physical force to defend the person or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force, and the person may use such degree of force which is reasonably believed to be necessary for such purpose; except that deadly physical force may not be used unless the actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force, or inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Property

A person is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent an attempt to commit larceny or criminal mischief involving property or larceny; but he or she may use deadly physical force only in defense of person.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Premises

A person in possession or control of premises, or a person who is licensed or privileged to be in or upon such premises, is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass. But a person may use deadly physical force under such circumstances only:

In Defense of a Person;

When he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent an attempt by the trespasser to commit arson or any crime of violence; or

To the extent that he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry by force into a dwelling or place of work, and for the sole purpose of such prevention or termination.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann §§  53a-19, 53a-20 & 53a-21]

What Was New York’s Law?

To get a license to carry a concealed firearm in New York State, a citizen had to show a “proper cause.” In practice, this meant that a local licensing official had to agree that the person had a “special need,” such as facing a current threat or recurring danger.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey also employ similar standards, known as “may issue” laws”. Many other states instead have a “shall issue” regime where local officials must issue a license to carry a concealed firearm as long as the person does not have a disqualifying characteristic, including a felony conviction, mental illness or a restraining order against them.

For most of American history, the court ignored the Second Amendment. The first major ruling on its meaning did not come until the 1930s, and the court did not address whether the amendment recognized a fundamental individual right until 2008 in the landmark D.C. v. Heller.

That ruling, written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, recognized a right to keep a firearm in the home. How far the right extended into public spaces was not clear.

Scalia wrote that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” That meant “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” or “prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons” were “presumptively lawful.”

The new ruling establishes that the gun right recognized by the Second Amendment is a fundamental right like any other and must be accorded the highest level of protection. It’s inherently dangerous nature does not mean that the right is interpreted or limited differently.

Justice Clarence Thomas – perhaps the most conservative justice on the court – wrote the majority opinion. In Thomas’ view, we do not need to ask prior permission of a government official to exercise a constitutional right: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officials some special need.” Thomas concludes that the Bill of Rights – including the Second Amendment – “demands our unqualified deference.”

This means that a local government may regulate but not eradicate the core right, including the ability to carry a concealed firearm. Any allowable regulation demands a compelling state interest, with convincing evidence of the need and effectiveness of the regulation.

The dissenters were led by Justice Stephen Breyer, who opened his dissent with the number of Americans killed with firearms in 2020 – 45,222. His longstanding view is that the Second Amendment deals with a more dangerous right, and thus it is more open to being regulated.

In Breyer’s view, the majority’s ruling “refuses to consider the government interests that justify a challenged gun regulation.” Breyer concludes that “The primary difference between the Court’s view and mine is that I believe the Amendment allows States to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence … I fear that the Court’s interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”

The majority’s view of the Second Amendment is part of a dramatic shift in the court’s understanding of the Constitution. That shift reflects the recent arrival of a conservative justice, Amy Coney Barrett, increasing the previous majority of five to a supermajority of six justices.

The new supermajority, all nominated by Republican presidents, insists that the Constitution is not a living document that evolves as the beliefs and values of society shift. That was the longtime perspective more influential on the court since the rights revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, but now held by only a minority of justices.

The conservative majority believes the Constitution should be read in the original fashion of how the text itself would have been understood by those who wrote and ratified it. This is often called “originalism.”

The originalist reading means that the enumerated rights of the Amendments, including the Second Amendment, are not up for majority rule. They are core, established rights.

Editor’s Note:  Originalist a type of judicial interpretation of a constitution (especially the US Constitution) that aims to follow how it would have been understood or was intended to be understood at the time it was written.

the principle or belief that a text should be interpreted in a way consistent with how it would have been understood or was intended to be understood at the time it was written.

U.S. Constitution written and adopted in September 17, 1787

Bill of Rights, on June 8, 1789, Representative James Madison introduced a series of proposed amendments to the newly ratified U.S. Constitution. That summer the House of Representatives debated Madison’s proposal, and on August 24th  the House passed 17 amendments to be added to the Constitution.

The ruling by the new majority does not insist that states adopt the most unrestricted standards for concealed-carry that states like Maine or Texas have. Only the states with the most restrictive gun laws, including California and New York, will be forced to change policies.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a separate opinion to highlight that “the Court’s decision does not prohibit States from imposing licensing requirements for carrying a handgun for self-defense.” He emphasized that, “properly interpreted, the Second Amendment allows a “variety” of gun regulations.”

The majority opinion specifically states that concealed carry of firearms in sensitive places can be regulated: “We can assume it settled” that prohibitions on concealed carry in sensitive locations, including historically allowed ones such as “legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses,” as well as other “new and analogous sensitive places are constitutionally permissible.” This likely includes government buildings, stadiums, churches and schools.

This landmark ruling on the meaning and application of the Second Amendment changes the law in several states that would prefer to impose greater restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms. More broadly, it announces a major shift in how the court will understand the nature of rights under the Constitution.

The liberal justices in the waning minority believe that the new approach is changing American constitutional law “without considering the potentially deadly consequences.” The new majority sees the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a more uncompromising light that will alter American law in the coming years.

The Supreme Court decision doesn’t mean other restrictions that have long been in place, such as the prohibition of guns in certain locations, will change. There are numerous locations where someone cannot carry a gun, including federal buildings.

In Connecticut, that also includes school groundseither house of the General Assembly, any building where a public hearing of the General Assembly is held, any state park and any place where firearms are prohibited by the person who owns the premises or prohibited by law.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, as well as other lawmakers, believe that this decision by SCOTUS is a destructive decision will unleash even more gun violence on American communities. Instead of upholding common-sense safeguards to reduce gun violence, it will only put more guns in public spaces and open the floodgates to invalidate sensible gun safety laws in more states.

Labeled “a significant step backwards at a moment when horrendous shootings happen across our country every day, taking too many beautiful lives and terrorizing generations of Americans”.

Connecticut Gun Laws at a Glance

Carry Basics

CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY?

Does Connecticut allow constitutional carry?

No.
OPEN CARRY PERMITTED?

Is open carry permitted in Connecticut?

Yes, with a CT Pistol Permit only.
GUN PERMIT LICENSURE?

If Connecticut requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?

May-issue.
MINIMUM AGE FOR CONCEALED CARRY?

What is the minimum age in Connecticut to get a concealed carry permit?

21.
WEAPONS OTHER THAN HANDGUNS ALLOWED?

Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Connecticut with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?

No.
TASERS OR STUN GUNS?

Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Connecticut?

Yes. As of July 1, 2021, “electronic defense weapons” (e.g., stun guns) can be carried as long as the individual is 21 years old or older and possess a valid firearms credential (i.e., a handgun or long gun eligibility certificate, permit to carry or sell handguns, or ammunition certificate).

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann § 53-206]
[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann § 29-38]

CHEMICAL SPRAY/PEPPER SPRAY?

Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Connecticut?

Yes. There is no statute prohibiting the purchase or use of pepper spray in Connecticut.
MAGAZINE LIMITS FOR HANDGUNS?

Does Connecticut have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?

No more than 10 rounds.

“Large capacity magazine” means any firearm magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition, but does not include: a feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds of ammunition, a .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device, or a magazine that is permanently inoperable. Any person who distributes, imports into the state, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, or purchases a high-capacity magazine is criminally liable for a class D felony.

There is also a grandfather provision for high-capacity magazines possessed prior to January 1, 2014.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53-202w]

AMMUNITION RESTRICTIONS?

Does Connecticut have ammunition restrictions?

Yes. Armor-piercing and incendiary .50-caliber ammunition is prohibited. A handgun carry permit, gun sales permit, long-gun/handgun eligibility certificate or an ammunition certificate is required to purchase ammunition. Ammunition certificates are issued by the state’s Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection after a background check and must be renewed every 5 years.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-38m(c) and 53-202l(a)]

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Choosing to refuse

Plastic Free July

Source:  Oceanic Society, State Representative Joseph Gresko (D) 121st Connecticut House District

Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics?

Many people start the challenge by taking stock of the plastics in their life and choosing one or more items to avoid.  Some people simply look in the fridge, pantry or waste bin, while others choose to do a thorough bin audit—an especially popular activity for schools and workplaces.

Whatever you decide, it is your Plastic Free July choice.  This year for Plastic Free July a handy calendar for participants with 31 Days of Plastic Free Choices which shares some popular ideas and switches to reduce plastic waste.  This helpful resource offers choices for people to consider throughout July—and beyond. (this calendar can be accessed at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/)

The Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem

With skyrocketing plastic production, low levels of recycling and poor waste management, between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year—enough to cover every foot of coastline on the planet! And that amount is projected to triple in the next 20 years. Let that sink in for a moment.

In the ocean, plastic pollution impacts sea turtles, whales, seabirds, fish, coral reefs, and countless other marine species and habitats. In fact, scientists estimate that more than half of the world’s sea turtles and nearly every seabird on Earth have eaten plastic in their lifetimes. Plastic pollution also mars otherwise beautiful beaches, coastlines, and snorkel and dive sites worldwide, even in remote areas such as Midway Atoll.

One of the reasons that plastic pollution is such a problem is that it doesn’t go away: “plastics are forever.” Instead, plastic debris simply breaks down into ever-smaller particles, known as microplastics, whose environmental impacts are still being determined.

Plastic Pollution Solutions: 7 Things You Can Do Today

Everyone can do something to help solve the plastic pollution problem, and millions of people worldwide are already taking action to reduce their plastic use. Here are seven ways you can make a difference, starting today.

  1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics

Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you can get started is by reducing your own use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics include plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded.

The State of Connecticut banned the use single use check-out plastic bags on July 1, 2021.

The best way to do this is by a) refusing any single-use plastics that you do not need (e.g. straws, plastic bags, takeout utensils, takeout containers), and b) purchasing, and carrying with you, reusable versions of those products, including reusable grocery bags, produce bags, bottles, utensils, coffee cups, and dry cleaning garment bags. And when you refuse single-use plastic items, help businesses by letting them know that you would like them to offer alternatives.

  1. Support Legislation to Curb Plastic Production and Waste

As important as it is to change our individual behaviors, such changes alone are insufficient to stop ocean plastic pollution. We also need legislation that reduces plastic production, improves waste management, and makes plastic producers responsible for the waste they generate. There are a variety of ways that you can support local, national, and international legislation that provide critical solutions to reduce plastic pollution. One such effort in the United States is the 2021 Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, a comprehensive federal bill that aims to address the plastic pollution crisis, and there are a number of state level initiatives to introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation that makes plastic producers and distributors responsible for their products and packaging at the end of life.

At the international level, hundreds of organizations and businesses are calling on the United Nations to enact a global plastics treaty that would set global rules and regulations that would reduce plastic pollution. And legislation that limits, taxes, or bans unnecessary single use plastic items, such as plastic bags, takeout containers, and bottles, has been successfully enacted in many places globally, and you can support the adoption of such policies in your community too. Here is a comprehensive resource and toolkit on legislative approaches to limiting plastic bags, foodware, microplastics, and more.

Connecticut presently has a ban on BPA’s in plastic water bottles. In January, 2023, a bottle bill expansion will go into effect with sports drinks, iced teas, additional alcoholic beverages containers will all have a deposit, which will increase to a 10 cent deposit in 2024.

  1. Recycle Properly

This should go without saying, but when you use single-use (and other) plastics that can be recycled, always be sure to recycle them. At present, just 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of “new” plastic in circulation. If you need help finding a place to recycle plastic waste near you, check Earth 911’s recycling directory. It’s also important to check with your local recycling center about the types of plastic they accept.

Presently in the State of Connecticut Recycling statewide is about 30% with Redemption of bottles with deposits is around 50%.

  1. Participate In (or Organize) a Beach or River Cleanup

Stratford has an annual river cleanup (Housatonic River Clean Up) which removes plastics.  This is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution. You can simply go to the beach or waterway and collect plastic waste on your own or with friends or family, or you can join a local organization’s cleanup or an international event like the International Coastal Cleanup, or join and work with the Housatonic River Clean Up.  You can follow the organization on their Facebook page.

Also Beach/River cleanups were held this year by  Long Beach Cleanup with Two Roads Brewing and supporting local restaurants;  Lordship Community Cleanup.  Mark your calendar, as on October 9th there will be a Stratford Community cleanup at Short and Long Beach.

  1. Avoid Products Containing Microbeads

Tiny plastic particles, called “microbeads,” have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. Microbeads are found in some face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes, and they readily enter our oceans and waterways through our sewer systems, and affect hundreds of marine species. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polythelene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products (find a list of products containing microbeads here).

  1. Spread the Word

Stay informed on issues related to plastic pollution and help make others aware of the problem. Tell your friends and family about how they can be part of the solution, or host a viewing party for one of the many plastic pollution focused documentaries, like A Plastic Ocean, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic, Bag It, Addicted to Plastic, Plasticized, or Garbage Island.

  1. Support Organizations Addressing Plastic Pollution

There are many non-profit organizations working to reduce and eliminate ocean plastic pollution in a variety of different ways, including Oceanic Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, 5 Gyres, Algalita, Plastic Soup Foundation, and others. These organizations rely on donations from people like you to continue their important work. Even small donations can make a big difference!

These seven ideas only scratch the surface for ways you can help address the growing problem of plastic pollution in the oceans. The important thing is that we all do something, no matter how small. For more ideas and resources, sign up to join our Blue Habits community of people worldwide committed to joyful daily actions that improve ocean health: oceanicsociety.org

New Laws Taking Effect on July 1st

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,
A number of new laws that my colleagues and I worked on during the 2022 legislative session to implement meaningful change in our state will take effect in Connecticut on July 1st, 2022.

The list is extensive, but see below for some highlights:

Paid Family Leave

Starting Friday, among other provisions, the act requires employers to notify their employees at the time of hiring and every year thereafter about their entitlement to family and medical leave and family violence leave and the terms under which the leaves may be used, about the opportunity to file a benefits claim under the FMLI program. The law also prohibits employer retaliation against an employee for requesting, applying for, or using family medical leave for which an employee is eligible.

Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Services

In light of the recent Supreme Court Decision on Roe v Wade, I am pleased that Connecticut took proactive steps to ensure reproductive rights. This new law establishes protections for individuals seeking an abortion and physicians performing services. It also protects against out-of-state judgments based on reproductive or gender-affirming health care services that are legal in Connecticut, allowing these individuals to recover certain costs they incurred defending the out-of-state action and bringing an action under the new law. The law allows advanced practice registered nurses, nurse midwives, and physician assistants to provide reproductive services.

Isolated Confinement

This new law limits the amount of time and circumstances under which an incarcerated person may be held in isolated confinement with less than four hours per day out of a cell beginning July 1, 2022 in the general population, gradually increasing to 5 hours per day on and after April 1, 2023. The law also requires that any use of isolated confinement maintain the least restrictive environment needed for the safety of incarcerated individuals, staff, and facility security and prohibits holding minors in isolated confinement. It also places new limits on its use by considering physical and mental health evaluations.

JobsCT

The budget established the JobsCT tax rebate program for companies in specified industries to earn rebates against insurance premiums, corporation business, and pass-through entity (PE) taxes for reaching certain job creation targets.

Indoor Air Quality in Public Schools

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature passed several initiatives to improve schools’ indoor air quality. A grant program was created to reimburse boards of education or regional education service centers for costs associated with installing, replacing, or upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or other air quality improvements.
The budget makes $150 million available for the program ($75 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $75 million in general obligation bonds effective July 1, 2022). Additionally, the act requires boards of education to conduct a uniform inspection and evaluation of the HVAC system in each school building under its jurisdiction every five years and take any necessary corrective actions. It also establishes a working group to study and make recommendations related to indoor air quality within schools.

Captive Audience Meetings

A new law generally prohibits employers from penalizing employees or threatening to do so for refusing to attend employer-sponsored meetings, listen to speech, or view communications primarily intended to convey the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters, including decisions to join or support labor organizations. The law provides exceptions for, among other things, employers to communicate information required by law or that the employees need to perform their jobs.

Catalytic Converters
Several changes were made regarding the receipt and sale of catalytic converters, including prohibiting anyone other than a motor vehicle recycler or motor vehicle repair shop from selling more than one unattached converter to a scrap metal processor, junk dealer, or junk yard owner or operator in a day. The law also establishes several recordkeeping requirements and other conditions, such as affixing or writing a stock number on converters.

Your calls, emails, and testimony at public hearings during this year’s legislative session had a direct influence on these new laws. Thank you and continue expressing your views and making your voice heard.
For a complete list of new laws that go into effect on July 1st go to: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/content/aeauto.asp?

Sincerely,
Phil
Phil.Young@cga.ct.gov