In 2015, Jim Gallagher, a retired Oceanographer, agreed to chair the Foundation’s sub-committee- the Niantic Bay Beach Ecosystem Committee. This committee, which works in conjunction with the East Lyme Parks and Rec. Department, is a joint program with UCONN SeaGrant, designed to provide a model for public long-term monitoring and management of Connecticut beaches. Drone and land surveys of beach sand movement over time, vegetation monitoring, and grass planting to prevent sand erosion and loss are all part of the plan. In 2018, the Committee developed an educational component, publishing pamphlets describing selected elements of the living ecosystem on our shores.
Topics selected for the first three pamphlets were Sea Shells, Seaweed, and Beach Plants of Niantic. Members of the group who helped develop this project are Ann Chekal, grant writer, Bill Rinoski, retired science teacher and author of the Sea Shells pamphlet, Dr. Juliana Barret of UCONN Sea Grant, author of Beach Plants of Niantic, and Dr. Jamie Vaudrey, of the UCONN Marine Sciences Department, author of the pamphlet on Seaweed. Ted Norris, owner of Pamlico, a marketing firm for the marine and fishing industries, did the design and arranged for the printing.
Jim Gallagher has said, “I want to educate the public about key elements and dynamics of the local beach environment to hopefully increase conservation, knowledge, and interest in the local ecosystem, leading to care of the system.
About 1,500 pamphlets have been distributed over the past 3 years, with thousand more to be made available in the next few years. Teachers who would like some of these pamphlets for their classes can contact the Foundation on their Face Book page. Additional pamphlet topics being considered are local Arthropods, Birds, and Fishes.
As the weather becomes warmer, distribution sites will be near the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. Posters will mark the locations of pamphlet distribution boxes at Hole in the Wall, McCook bathhouse, Cini Park, E.L. Parks and Recreation Dept., E.L. Public Schools, E.L. Town Hall and the Children’s Museum.
Implementation of this project was made possible from a Sea Grant awarded to the Foundation of approximately $1600. Oceanographers, Grant Writers, Educators, Designers, and Publicists all contributed their talents to help individuals develop a greater connection to the environment as they frequent the Niantic Bay Boardwalk, the local Niantic beaches, and the waters of Niantic Bay and River.