GOSA’s Candlewood Ridge Property Meadow & Trail Restoration

Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:00 PM

If you are a current Pfizer Colleague or a Retiree, please consider joining us for this stewardship event to help restore the meadow, widen trails, and cut down invasive plants at the Candlewood Ridge property bordering Groton and Ledyard town lines. If at least 5 Pfizer individuals collectively offer 15 hours of volunteer time, it qualifies GOSA for a $2500 grant, which goes a long way to support stewardship activities. Jobs at this event include the use of hand loppers, shovels, mowers, hedge trimmers, brush hog, pole saws, etc. Tools and training will be provided. Bring gloves and wear long pants and closed toe shoes. We will have additional support by Coast Guard cadets. Please come, have fun, and enjoy time outdoors at this beautiful property. Call Marie at 860-917-2625 for questions. Lunch provided.

Enter property off of Route 184 at the traffic light for Lambtown Road. There will be directional GOSA event signs to follow.

Register Here: https://pfizer.yourcause.com/home#/newvolunteer/event/728439

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Summer Campers at the Sheep Farm

July and August 2019

During July and August 2019 five busloads of children from the Groton Parks and Recreation summer camp program visited the Sheep Farm to explore and dip their nets into a pool in the stream next to the waterfall. The program was so popular, a waiting list was created. Sometimes shy, and at first reluctant to get wet, the children quickly found the cool water fine, and eagerly joined in the fun and the experience of learning about benthic invertebrates.

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The Grass has Finally Stopped Growing!


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

During the summer months GOSA stewardship concentrates on keeping the grass mowed in the parking areas and trails.  October brings cooler temperatures and GOSA stewardship works on the many other projects that keep our properties maintained.

Big News!

GOSA has purchased a Brush Hog and our work party on Oct 2nd was it debut.
The new brush hog was used to expand the parking area at the Rte. 184 entrance to Candlewood Ridge and it saved us many man hours.
GOSA’s hardworking crew did an outstanding job trimming trees, invasives and moving brush. Thanks to Vicki, Marie, Joan, Lynn, Ryan, Landon, Dan N., Dan O., John, Chet, Bruce and Tom for a job well done and some laughs along the way!

If you would like to join our fun group just fill out the volunteer form or email [email protected] and you will be added to our Stewardship emails. We meet at least once a week. Let us know if weekdays or weekends work best for you.

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October 5, 2019

GOSA hosted a booth at the Groton Fall Festival, a community event sponsored by the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce and Groton Parks and Recreation. Over 100 vendors and 5000 attendees attend this free event to learn about our community.

It was heart warming to meet and talk with old friends and new acquaintances and enjoy the children who are our future land stewards and advocates of open space.

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Notes from our 2019 Annual Dinner and Silent Auction

Our 2019 Annual Dinner and Silent auction is in the rear view mirror and what a great time we had! Consider joining us next year!

First, we’d like to thank all our sponsors and partners, and we are so very lucky to have such an engaged and engaging community!
GOSA focuses our auction, indeed all our “business”, in the local community, and we’d like to thank all of our very generous auction donors.

Special thanks go out to our Sponsors who made this year’s event special:
The New London Day, Densmore Oil, Chelsea Groton Bank, The Dog Watch Cafe, The Brian Smith Family Fund, Duncklee Cooling & Heating Inc., Nutmeg Building & Remodeling LLC, Carson’s Store, JPO Productions LLC, Schooner’s Beverage Company, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, The Law Offices of Eric Santoro, and the Friends of Ft Hill.
Let’s not forget the fun and ambiance provided by Tusia Photography in our green screen with local and fun backdrops, and James Harris Guitar who provided a lovely addition to our cocktail and silent auction hour!

Held at The Mystic Marriott, our guests made the evening a delight! So many old friends re-connecting, new friends being made, and special new opportunities offered like a special outdoor nature photography class and a CT Forest & Park Hike in June!
A little bit of something for everyone!

We hope everyone can join us again next year for this event which we target to fund our regular stewardship duties!

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Notes about GOSA Stewardship Volunteers

Volunteering for GOSA’s Stewardship team is one of the most fun and rewarding activities Dan and I are involved in. We have made so many new friends and have met and worked with some the most interesting, knowledgeable people during our work parties.

There are currently 54 active members on the stewardship team, with some volunteering once a year and others as much as twice a week. All time donated is greatly appreciated and our members are valued for their caring attitudes, unique abilities, and willingness to work hard together to accomplish GOSA’s goals. So far this year, these great people have donated over 500 hours of their time to beautify and maintain GOSA’s five properties!

Those 500 hours are the equivalent of a $12,715  donation to GOSA in order to have that very work done! According to The Non-Profit Times, “The value of a volunteer’s time hit an all-time high during 2018 at $25.43 an hour, up 3 percent from 2017.”

Routine trail maintenance, including clearing and removal of invasive plants, downed limbs and trees, and the mowing of grassy areas and meadows, is on-going. (Of note, we get into a bit of archaeology too as numerous rock walls, old foundations, and even old farm machinery, have been exposed during maintenance work parties.)

In addition to routine maintenance, numerous projects also have been undertaken to beautify the areas we maintain. At the Sheep Farm, on Hazelnut Hill Road, bog bridges and a footbridge to span the Fort Hill Brook were recently made and installed by GOSA volunteers in the area below the waterfall. This will connect to a property to be known as Sheep Farm South. A walking trail is being marked in this area; work is on-going.
At Avery Farm North, the areas along Lambtown Road have been cleared of debris and invasives, revealing rock walls and old foundations. An area has been prepared for a pollinator garden to be planted this spring, while a nearby bog is currently being cleared of saplings, to provide optimal growing conditions for the Atlantic White cedars growing there.

The hope is to maintain areas of natural beauty for everyone to enjoy, from the woodland paths, to the open meadows, to the bogs and ponds, to the critters and creatures that abound. There is definitely is something for everyone on our beautiful properties!

New volunteers are always welcome. On the job training, tools, fun and friendship are provided!


Lynn and Dan
Stewardship Volunteer Coordinators

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Building Bridges

What a great turn-out we had last week for our footbridge build and installation at the Sheep Farm! 13 volunteers helped to unload two pick-up trucks filled with lumber, nails, screws, power tools, rebar, sonotubes and concrete mix, and carried all of it about a quarter mile to the build site near the base of the waterfall. 
With Dan O. providing music, and Marie providing snacks and drinks, the party began!
Earlier in the week, in preparation for the build, the lumber was
cut to size and pre-drilled with holes as needed to make assembly of the bridge support as easy and efficient as possible. With that done, it was time to install the sonotubes and concrete, and set the framework into place. Only a few minor adjustments needed to be made to achieve perfection, and the surface planking was installed.
Ryan and Tom did a great job with that and, before you knew it, our bridge was completed!
What a wonderful effort put forth by some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet!
We’d especially like to thank our newest volunteers, Dan N. and Landon, for their hard work today, as well as to day hikers Zac, Rebecca and their pup who so willingly carried supplies down to us while on their hike through the Sheep Farm! If you see a GOSA work Party on a property, be sure someone will ask you, "Woodja?"
We appreciated your help!
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Sheep Farm South Acquisition

GOSA - Sheep Farm South

GOSA has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire a 104-acre parcel to be called Sheep Farm South. It is located within a densely populated area in central Groton, close to schools, bus routes and other services. This property abuts and will extend the special wildlife habitats, scenic trails and stream corridors of GOSA’s 63-acre original Sheep Farm. It will connect across Rte. 1 to GOSA’s 75-acre Merritt Family Forest and the 6-mile X-Town Trail.

We invite you to visit this special property on our upcoming tours, and we encourage you to join us in our fundraising efforts!

It takes time and money to save land. The purchase price is $1,000,000. Associated costs, closing costs and stewardship funding will require an additional $60,000.

The timeline for acquisition will extend from 2018 to 2021, followed by a commitment to sustain management as open space in perpetuity.

GOSA will need community support to raise matching funds to anticipated grant funding from the CT DEEP Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program.
We are an all-volunteer 501 (c) 3 conservation and land trust organization. We operate under a very low overhead, and will be able spend a high percentage of your contributions on mission programs.

Be one of the first to see the Sheep Farm South by joining us on the June 2nd CT Forest & Park hike!
Details on our events page and on Facebook

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Seth and Joanna Wakeman

By Sidney Van Zandt
Vice President

I grieve Seth and Joanna’s passing, but I want to share with you the amazing efforts Seth made in 1967 through 1982.

Seth was one of the early activists of the Environmental movement.  He was one of the founders of the Groton Open Space Association (GOSA) that was formed in December 1967 to help “Save the Haley Farm”.  I, Sidney F. Van Zandt, was President, Seth was Vice-President.  The Haley Farm was threatened with a 250 duplex housing development, which would have included filling in the marshes and purchasing additional land for schools. We had to raise over $350,000 in today’s dollars in less than 3 years which was the Town’s portion of State and Federal Open Space grants. This only included the lower 200 acres. The upper 50 + acres were not purchased by the State until 2002, 32 years later, after much development pressure.

During those 15 years our organization focused on proposing more environmental planning by opposing development at Bluff Point of the Morton Fine Plan that included a 5,000 car parking lot, the change of zone that would have allowed the development of a 400 boat marina on the Poquonnock River, the proposal to turn our local airport into a jetport between Kennedy and Logan as well as a Jetport Industrial City up in Pachaug State Park.

Our fundraising for the Haley Farm went door-to-door, even included a Rock Concert.  We went over the top a week before our March 1970 deadline.

We helped form the first local Land Trust called the Mashantucket Land Trust in 1968 (now renamed to Avalonia Land Conservancy.). We worked with our town and State Commissions to deal with local air and water pollution, and promoted wetlands regulations.  We were active in helping to protect Pequot Woods as a Greenbelt to the West of Allyn Street. We voted in favor of perpetuating rights of way to the water, opposed filling in the Mystic River for bulkheads, and watched where placement for sewer pump stations were planned as well as promoting the sewer outfall location to the Thames River to protect water quality in Mumford Cove, and protection of the shellfish industry.

Both of us left the board in 1982 because of out of State activities.  Seth made a strong part of the team that has made an incredible difference to the Environment in our town – in our State. We all hope that you will take a hike on the Haley Farm, breath the clear air, soak in the pastoral beauty.  I would love to lead you if you would like.

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In Memory of Lorraine Santangelo (1923–2018)

By Catherine Pratt and Tim Pratt

On the memorable occasion of her 90th birthday, Lorraine Hall Santangelo received a citation of appreciation from the Connecticut General Assembly, presented by then–State Representative Elissa Wright, in recognition of, among many other achievements, her “distinguished 40-year career as one of Fitch High School’s finest teachers.”

Indeed, Lorraine’s tenth-grade English class made such an impact that, decades later, we remember much of her reading list, which spanned the major genres of poetry, prose, and drama: The Stranger, by Albert Camus, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, Silas Marner, by George Eliot, Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare, Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, the poetry of Robert Frost, and the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Absurdist philosophy, Shakespeare, and Greek tragedy might have posed a challenging curriculum for students ages 15 and 16, but Lorraine’s gift for teaching was undeniable. Together we analyzed and interpreted complex literary works, and her love of her subject brought it alive.

Many former students will attest that her weekly vocabulary lessons, on which there were frequent, unannounced quizzes, while the cause of some grumbling at the time, provided a grasp of the English language that has stayed with them throughout their lives.

As faculty advisor to the Fitch literary magazine, Amphora, Lorraine spent long hours after school guiding its production, making sure the young staff stayed focused. Thanks to her characteristic insistence on excellence, Amphora was regularly awarded top honors in the state.

Lorraine’s contributions to her community extended into many fields. When the circa-1783 Jabez Smith farmhouse was acquired by the Town of Groton, she was one of a small group of citizens who immediately recognized the historical importance of the house and its potential as a museum of colonial life in our region. For over 30 years, first as chair of the Historic Properties Advisory Committee, and then as chair of the Jabez Smith House Committee, she advocated tirelessly for the preservation and improvement of the house, and steered it to become an educational and cultural asset for the town.

Her enthusiasm for the house and her sense of its mission were infectious. For years, along with its resident curators, Lorraine presided over lectures, book readings, concerts, and dramatic performances. People enjoyed the glimpse into an earlier time, as well as the homemade chocolate-chip cookies she always provided. Lorraine’s vision and persistence on behalf of the Jabez Smith House have helped ensure that it will continue to serve as a living symbol of our town’s fascinating past.

In Lorraine’s English class we studied Robert Frost’s famous poem “Birches.” It was one that she liked. The speaker imagines that birch trees, bowed over after an ice storm, are actually bent because a boy’s been “swinging” them, between the sky above and the ground below. It ends as follows:

I’d like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:

I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Lorraine embraced her time on this earth. She will be remembered with gratitude, for her keen intelligence, her exceptional talents, her devotion to public service, the generations of young lives she inspired, and her unshakable conviction, imparted to her students and to all those fortunate enough to know her, that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

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