ACC In the News
What's Going On: Alewife Cove getting a lot of love thanks to Lamoureux, Perch
From left, New London Mayor Michael Passero, Alewife Cove Conservancy board Co-Chairman Chris Clouet, Jack Perch, with mother Anna Perch, and conservancy co-founder Edward Lamoureux react to a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 400 at the Port N’ Starboard restaurant at Ocean Beach Park on Nov. 11. Jack Perch received the conservancy’s Outstanding Citizen Award for inspiring a vigil at Ocean Beach after teenagers there attacked a snowy egret. Photo by Lee Howard
The most touching moment in a fantastic fundraiser last weekend at Ocean Beach Park for the Alewife Cove Conservancy occurred when co-founder Ed Lamoureux presented young Jack Perch with the group’s first-ever Outstanding Citizen Award.
Perch, you may remember, was the 8-year-old kid who inspired a vigil at Ocean Beach last summer after two teens from Glastonbury attacked a snowy egret near Alewife Cove, most likely killing it, though the bird was never recovered. The young men were accused of throwing rocks at the endangered species, tackling it and holding it by the neck.
Jack couldn’t abide the violence, telling his mother Annah Perch, who once led the New London Main Street organization and now is the development manager for the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, that he believed the principle of treating others the way you want to be treated should apply to animals, too.
“Those animals are like friends. The Golden Rule is for nature, too,” he said.
Lamoureux said those words should be taken seriously, and he wanted to honor Jack Perch’s kindness and consideration for nature. Not only did Jack receive a framed certificate honoring his work on the vigil, but Perkins & Murphy College Admissions Consultants run by Betsy and Tim Murphy in New London gave him a new laptop.
Thanks to Lamoureux’s good energy, the all-volunteer Alewife Cove Conservancy has been making headway in raising awareness of and funding for this beautiful waterway that once was teeming with alewife, a small fish that grows only a bit more than a foot long. The goal is to remove a small dam and dredge the cove, which divides New London and Waterford, to allow the waterway to return to its previous vibrancy, enhancing an area long known for kayaking and fishing.
The more than 400 people who showed up Nov. 11 for the conservancy’s annual fundraiser at Ocean Beach’s Port ‘N Starboard sure helped the cause, though it will take government funding and approval to get the work done. But if anyone can push it through, Lamoureux would be the guy to do it.
“In government, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and there's no more squeaky a wheel than Ed Lamoureux,“ New London Mayor Mike Passero told the crowd. ”We need grants. Our cove has to be dredged. We’ve got to take care of our greatest asset.”
But both Lamoureux and Passero admitted Waterford and New London are reliant on government action.
“We will not get it done unless we work together and we get the political powers that be in Hartford to get DEEP to know that this estuary is incredibly, incredibly important to preserve,” Passero said. “And we'll get there, we'll get it done, I promise you, we will.”
Passero pointed to the many former lifeguards and captains of the lifeguards in the crowd last weekend, and he recalled the time when they all referred to Alewife Cove as “the creek.”
“It's just great to join partnership with the town of Waterford on a matter like this,” he said, pointing out that Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule had planned to be at the fundraiser as well until a family emergency arose.
Alewife Cove includes a tidal creek and marshland habitat where kids love to wade in the summer, marveling at hermit crabs, soaring birds and small fish. To one side is busy Ocean Beach, with a wide range of activities from volleyball courts to restaurants and bars to a waterslide, and on the other is Waterford Town Beach, where swimming, sunbathing and fishing is the norm.
The cove area is home to great blue herons, ospreys, striped bass and the occasional eagle. I once spotted a horseshoe crab there, but haven’t seen one in years now.
The alewife fish live in ocean waters until spring, when they return to spawn in freshwater habitats like our local cove. Alewife used to be plentiful in the cove, but in recent years, particularly after Hurricane Sandy, their numbers were been cut drastically as shallow water and obstructions along the way made spawning more difficult.
Recognizing the problem, Alewife Cove Conservancy got its start as a nonprofit just seven years ago with hopes of making the restoration of alewife a priority for local politicians, and a lot of them attended last weekend’s event. The nonprofit will hear in the next few days about a key grant it hopes to receive from the Long Island Futures Fund that will pay for studies required of the watershed to support plans for dredging.
The conservancy also supports school and community programs that use the cove for scientific research, and next spring it is planning a plein air art event to invite accomplished artists to paint the cove.
In addition, Lamoureux told me Thursday that the event, which raised about $15,000, will help fund two scholarships a year, one for Waterford and one for New London, to help budding environmental scientists to further their education.
“People love the cove,” he said. “We have great momentum, we’re really taking off.”
Lee Howard is The Day’s business editor. Reach him with story ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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November 02, 2023: The Hidden Splendor of Alewife Cove
A brisk, south breeze swept the shoreline as Tom Richardson and I paddled kayaks up a secluded cove one sunny morning last week.
A few yards ahead, a lone egret, gleaming white against an azure sky, sprang from a rock and winged away noiselessly. Maples, just turning crimson in autumn amid amber oaks and golden birches, crowned a distant hill.
Aside from rustling reeds and gurgling currents swirled by the tide, silence reigned.
“Hard to believe we’re only a few miles from a busy city,” I remarked.
“That’s what makes this so special. A beautiful place,” Tom agreed.
We were kayaking up Alewife Cove, a Long Island Sound estuary that forms a border between New London and Waterford.
Tom – executive producer and host of Explore New England, a Boston-based multi-media company – was making his first foray up the narrow, serpentine waterway. He was in New London last week to prepare a show about the Whaling City that will air next month, and he invited me to accompany him on a kayak voyage on the cove.
The program will showcase other city attractions, including the Connecticut College Arboretum, Waterfront Park, Ledge Light, fishing on the sound, and the Black Heritage Trail, which highlights 15 sites of local and national historic significance.
“It will be a cool way to look at New London,” said Rich Martin, chairman of the New London Cultural District Commission and owner of Telegraph Records. Rich, a former manager of Hygienic Art, has long been involved with the city’s art scene.
The Cultural District Commission contracted with Explore New England to produce the program, tentatively scheduled for broadcast several times on the New England Sports Network (NESN), beginning in mid-December. The show also will be posted on YouTube and available on Explore New England’s website, explorenewengland.tv.
No one is more thrilled about the upcoming program than Ed Lamoureux, founder and co-chairman of the Alewife Cove Conservancy, a volunteer organization that has been working for a decade to restore, protect and improve the waterway.
“It’s been a labor of love,” he told me. Ed, who supplied a tandem kayak for use by the film crew last week, also was interviewed for the program.
The conservancy has long been involved with a project by Save the Sound to remove a dam on Fenger Brook, which forms the headwaters of Alewife Cove. The privately owned dam is located near condominiums on Niles Hill Road in Waterford. Dismantling it would enable alewife, a type of herring that is an important food source for larger fish, to return to breeding waters farther upstream.
“Before the dam was built, you could walk across the cove on their backs,” Ed said.
The conservancy also is hoping to arrange for renewed dredging of the cove, which was heavily silted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Tom and I were on a tight schedule because much of Alewife Cove is too shallow to navigate at low tide. Therefore, we launched shortly after high tide, just west of the pavilion at Ocean Beach Park, and began paddling north.
“Beautiful!” Tom exclaimed, gazing at pristine marshes surrounding the cove’s crystal-clear water. We pushed against a tidal current for half a mile or so – the cove extends less than a mile – before turning around and returning to the beach access, so videographer Halsey Fulton could record additional video using a drone.
Halsey, whose company, Fish Hawk Films, is based in Newport, maneuvered the airborne camera remotely from shore, letting it hover high overhead as well as bringing it only a few feet above the water.
After paddling up the cove against the tidal current, Tom and I then turned around and rocketed with the ebb, through the narrow, riprap-lined mouth at Long Island Sound.
“Wow!” Tom shouted, as we shot through the gap and gazed at the resplendent view of Ledge Light, Fishers Island and Orient Point. It was a Chamber of Commerce-type day, the water sparkling in bright sunshine.
The breeze and tide kicked up chop as we paddled around a trio of rocky islands known locally as The Three Sisters. From this vantage point a few hundred yards offshore, we could see Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, as well as the gently curved arc of Ocean Beach in New London.
“Doesn’t get any better than this,” I said.
“Look! ‘Albies are jumping!’” Tom exclaimed, referring to a school of false albacore fish.
All in all, it was a spectacular morning on the water. As its name suggests, Alewife Cove is a protected inlet, making it ideal for family outings and school groups, including the Stonington-based New England Science & Sailing Foundation, which organizes summer programs for youngsters on its water and along the shore. Venturing out into the sound is a bonus.
There also is a well-marked nature trail and viewing platform overlooking the cove, easily accessible from the southwest end of the Ocean Beach parking lot, near the water slide.
The conservancy, which for years has staged a Fourth of July kayak regatta on the cove, also is hosting its annual Benefit Bash,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Ocean Beach’s Port N Starboard Banquet & Conference Center.
Ticket information is posted on the organization’s website, alewifecove.org.
August 11, 2023: 5 Nonprofits To Get Behind In The New London Area
NEW LONDON, CT — Nonprofit groups are keystone community organizations in the New London area. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations to volunteer or get behind financially, and that need your help.
Here are five outstanding nonprofit groups you should know about in the New London area:
Sound Community Services: This nonprofit provides support and services for individuals with behavioral health and substance abuse disorders.
Covenant Shelter of New London Inc.: Covenant Shelter of New London, Inc, is a 35-bed emergency shelter for homeless men, women, and children. The shelter provides overnight accommodations, daily meals, case management services, children's programs, parenting classes, and other programs.
Connecticut Storytelling Center: The Connecticut Storytelling Center strives to provide the means for people of all ages to experience stories as a means of expression and communication, as a tool for thinking, reflecting, teaching and learning, and as a catalyst for change.
Alliance For Living: This group is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by HIV/AIDS in New London County.
Alewife Cove Conservancy: The conservancy is dedicated to protecting and improving the health of Alewife Cove which is bordered by Waterford and New London.
August 04, 2023: Judge appoints animal advocate in case of abused egret in New London
January 14, 2022: The Nature Conservancy celebrates the establishment of Connecticut’s first National Estuarine Research Reserve
November 10, 2019: Waterford group to remove dam to allow alewives to spawn
Published by The Day, November 10, 2019 6:35PM
By Sten Spinella Day staff writer
Waterford — Alewife Cove has been difficult on its namesake fish for decades.
A dam installed in the 1970s that blocks the cove just north of Niles Hill Road prevented access to alewife herring spawning waters. So Edward Lamoureux, co-chairman of the Alewife Cove Conservancy, likes to tell a joke.
"They go out to sea for four years, they return to where they would spawn, they get up there, and the first one up says, 'Dam!'"
The Alewife Cove Conservancy is on the precipice of killing that joke, as it received a $187,282 grant this November from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to remove the dam.
A news release from the Long Island Sound Study indicates that $2.6 million in grants were awarded to a number of local groups to help improve the health of Long Island Sound. This includes a $50,000-plus grant to the City of Groton to study risks and vulnerabilities to coastal resilience and develop a plan of action for sea-level rise.
Another $15,000 was awarded to the Niantic River Watershed Committee for a social marketing program aimed at reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizer on lawns in the Niantic River watershed in East Lyme and Waterford.
The $187,282 grant awarded to the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound, the two organizations working closely with the the Alewife Cove Conservancy, requires $128,280 in matching funds from the three groups for a total of $315,562.
"The project will remove a barrier to fish passage, educating and engaging the community and students in project implementation and monitoring at Alewife Cove, New London, Connecticut," the release reads. "It will restore three miles of riverine migratory corridor benefiting alewife, sea lamprey and American eel that migrate between rivers and Long Island Sound."
In 2018, the LISFF also awarded a $99,987 grant that required matching funds of $100,000 to the three groups to do the planning for the removal of the dam.
At the time, a LISS said the project would provide access to spawning, rearing and refuge habitat for alewife herring, as well as other species.
Lamoureux said the disruption of the alewife herring's ecosystem in the cove was unintentional but damaging. The dam was installed in Fenger Brook at the headwaters to Alewife Cove in the 1970s to create a pond near an apartment complex.
"What it did was, is it stopped the alewife fish migration back up into the freshwater watershed where they come from the ocean to go back to where they spawn," Lamoureux said.
An October column in The Day titled "Bringing alewives back into Alewife Cove" described the issue facing the fish — alewives, once abundant in North America, "are now greatly reduced in number, largely because of habitat loss and extensive dam construction that interfered with spawning migration."
Alewives have historically been consumed by other marine life, birds of prey and human beings. There are still alewives in the cove, but not like they used to be. Lore has it "that during the spawning season, one could walk across streams on the backs of the fish," the ACC's website notes.
Lamoureux hopes the dam removal will revitalize the cove's complex ecosystems. He recalls a time from his youth when alewives, along with blue shell crabs and other animals, were plentiful in the cove.
"I live in Waterford now, but I was born and bred in New London, and I was down in that cove every day as a kid," Lamoureux said. "I was pulling out bushels of blue shell crabs there, I was fishing and swimming, and we all grew up in, on and around the cove."
Lamoureux thinks support from the Town of Waterford and City of New London stems from those memories. An Oct. 12 event organized by the ACC raised $12,000 and was attended by about 325 people, many of whom grew up together and hadn't seen one another in decades.
"This Alewife Cove Conservancy has touched a nerve," Lamoureux said. "We're reaching across the cove and shaking hands and we're coming together."
On the Air
Hear Edward Lamoureux, ACC founder and co-chairman interviewed on the Lee Elci Show regarding ACC's recent Benefit Bash.
The 1st Annual Alewife Cove Conservancy Endless Summer FUNdraiser is a huge success!
The Alewife Cove Conservancy raised about $12,000 on Oct. 12 at Ocean Beach Park as it works to increase awareness about the body of water that runs through New London and Waterford.
The event, co-chaired by Edward Lamoureux and former New London Schools Superintendent Chris Clouet and featuring a performance by the Rivergods, brought about 325 people together to hear about issues involving the cove, including the need to work with state and federal agencies to have the cove studied and dredged.
Money raised will be used for outreach programs, citizen scientists programs, cove clean-up days, mailings, website management, state and federal filing fees, grant writing and other needs.
The newly formed conservancy aims at preserving and revitalizing Alewife Cove by working with Save the Sound to remove the dam on Fenger Brook at the headwaters of the cove on Niles Hill Road. This would, the group says, allow the alewife herring to migrate back into the fresh water to spawn.
The first Alewife Cove Endless Summer Fundraiser was a way to introduce the public to the Alewife Cove Conservancy. Another event is set for Sept. 19, 2020 at Ocean Beach Park.
For more information, visit www.alewifecove.org.