[CT Birds] Hammonasset: Response from Commissioner Esty

john@birdspix.com schwarzjs at aol.com
Sun Jun 23 16:15:48 EDT 2013


Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about recent work in the 
parking lot near Meigs Point at Hammonasset Beach State Park. I understand your 
concern, and I want you to know the thought process that has gone into this 

As you may know, this area of the park is intensively used by the public during 
the summer, as it is the primary parking area for the popular Meigs Point beach, 
and for the Meigs Point Nature Center. Many people begin a life-long love of the 
outdoors in this park, and it does wonders for public awareness of natural 
resources issues. The parking lot itself is roughly 5% paved (in the most 
frequently used section) with the remainder being grass parking spots and gravel 
“roadways”.  Park visitors walking to the beach or returning to their cars in 
this lot have been forced to walk down the narrow one-way road along with 
passing cars.  This project has been designed to increase public access  (and 
public safety) by creating a walkway for pedestrians to separate them from 
passing cars.

The material used to create this walkway and to fill small depressions in edge 
of the parking lot is not impervious asphalt pavement, but rather it is recycled 
road “millings”, which is pervious ground up asphalt chips.  The total area of 
this new pervious walkway is roughly 3 % of the parking area, and we have no 
plans to pave this area further.  I hope this information is helpful in 
understanding the scope of the public safety project that was undertaken at 
Hammonasset Beach State Park.

We know many people enjoy the park for its vast array of wildlife, and for the 
many other public amenities that it has provided for almost 100 years.  With 
over 2 miles of public bathing beaches and one of the largest campgrounds in the 
country, it is often a delicate balance to provide these services to the almost 
2 million annual visitors, while creating and maintaining habitat that is so 
attractive to so many wildlife species.  I think we mostly get it right, but we 
also want to make sure that we hear from folks when they think we’ve gotten it 
wrong on occasion. If you have additional questions, or would like to discuss 
these issues further, I would encourage you to contact Tom Tyler, our Director 
of State Parks.  Tom can be reached at 860-424-3099 or tom.tyler at ct.gov .


From: john at birdspix.com [schwarzjs at aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:30 AM
To: Esty, Daniel
Subject: 2nd notice: Hammonasset


Dear Commissioner Esty:

     As time truly is of the essence here, many of us are expectantly awaiting a 
prioritized response to this. Many thanks in advance for your most urgent 


John S. Schwarz

-----Original Message-----
From: john at birdspix.com <schwarzjs at aol.com>
To: daniel.esty <daniel.esty at ct.gov>
Sent: Wed, Jun 19, 2013 1:04 pm
Subject: Hammonasset

Dear Commissioner Esty:

     By now you have probably have already become aware of the consternation 
over "improvements" being made at Hammonasset State Park in Madison. Please 
allow me to offer my own personal very grave concerns:

     My interest is as a bird photographer (www.birdspix.com<http://www.birdspix.com>) 
who travels all over the country in this pursuit. I reside in Westbrook and, 
like many other Connecticut nature devotees, spend more time at Hammonasset than 
at any other single site in Connecticut. Many may not understand that 
Hammonasset is far more than a beach and a campground, it is an ecologically 
sensitive nature preserve and a crucial annual migratory stopover for many bird 
species, as well as a summer or winter home for countless others including four 
species of owls.

     Of particular immediate concern is the filling in of rain pools and new 
paving under consideration. Each year the rain pools and gravelly fields and 
unpaved overflow parking areas provide necessary and irreplaceable habitat for 
Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, Least and White-rumped Sandpipers, 
Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, 
and numerous other species. Human altering of what nature has purposely provided 
for these species is an enormous, if unintentional, mistake.

     I understand that it is likely that whoever made the unfortunate decision 
to fill in the rain pools did so in a well-intentioned effort to improve on the 
aesthetics of the park and was most likely unaware of the concomitant dire 
adverse affects on the park's dependent avifauna.

     It is not too late to undo the damage done so far by fully restoring the 
rain pools to their prior natural condition and thus return them to the purpose 
that nature intended all along.  I implore that this be done, with urgency, 
before autumn migration begins, fully understanding that indeed this action may 
require the reluctant swallowing of someone's personal pride, with the admission 
that a simply wrong decision had unknowingly been made without all the relevant 
considerations having been fully understood, but rest assured that in the end 
such an admission will be met only with the sincerest appreciation and relief, 
with no recriminations.

     Any consideration of new paving anywhere in the park should be put on 
immediate indefinite hold while the serious adverse consequences to nature 
receive all the due time and attention they require to be fully aired, 
publicized, discussed, and understood, lest any more damage be done, this time, 
unthinkably, of the irreparable kind.

     Like all of my Connecticut colleagues, I am ready to meet with you or any 
others with authority in this matter, at any time and place convenient to you, 
to help address this ongoing concern. The restoration of the rain pools really 
can not wait, as the annual shorebird migration will already be getting underway 
in July.

Very sincerely,

John S. Schwarz
66 Captains Drive
Westbrook, CT 06498


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