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Easton's Toth Park Gets Summer Cleanup

EASTON, Conn. – A group of volunteers were busy pruning, planting and picking up Friday at Easton's Toth Park. The group is working to comply with state mandates by reducing the number of visiting geese and restoring the streamside buffer by the pond.

"We feel we can reduce the number of geese loitering in the park by making conditions less attractive to them," Sally Harold, project director for the Saugatuck River Watershed Partnership , said in an email to The Daily Easton. "This includes restoring a streamside buffer of plants of varying heights placed in beds that prevent a clear sight line from upland areas where they feed in the grass. The buffer plantings will also provide habitat for insects which fish feed on, will help to filter and slow runoff during storms, helping to reduce streambank scour, sediment buildup in the stream and filtering anything that's in the water flowing off the property. Larger streamside plants and trees will also help to provide shade, helping to keep the stream colder. Colder water contains more oxygen, and oxygen-rich water supports more native fish."

Harold appealed to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection after The Nature Conservancy learned in the winter of 2009-10 that Easton and Weston owed the state money for fines for minor infractions associated with the state's MS4 program.

"This is a state-mandated program that requires municipalities of a certain size to comply with a stormwater management program, which includes conducting water quality sampling, submitting test results from these tests to CT DEP, mapping catch basin systems, educating the public, etc.," Harold said.

She asked the state to allow the Nature Conservancy to develop a project to remediate an impaired portion of the Aspetuck River, which runs through Easton and Weston, and to bring attention to water quality concerns.

Jean Stetz-Puchalski, conservation chair of the Easton Garden Club, worked Friday to finish Phase 1 of the project and placed orange flags to monitor plant growth. "It's a perpetual project. It's a group and team effort by the Easton Garden Club and the master gardener interns for 2011," said Stetz-Puchalski. The group has been working since early July with streamside planting, removing invasive plants and pruning existing plants. Nancy King of Seventy Acres in Redding offered to help research and design the plantings for the park.

"It's the geese waste we're concerned about. When it rains, the waste goes into the water and the micronutrients pollutes the water making it unswimmable," said Stetz-Puchalski. The park had been closed to swimming for six or more years, according to Harold.

A large tree has been donated and will be planted as part of Phase 2, set to begin in September. Stetz-Puchalski invites members of the public to consider sponsoring a tree. Those interested should email her at . Also, those interested in earning community service hours can volunteer with the project and should also contact Jean for more information.

Do you think geese are a problem at Toth Park? Leave your comments below.

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