New guide highlights natural resources of New London's Ocean Beach Park

New London - "A Living Museum: Exploring and Beachcombing Ocean Beach Park," the new visitors' pocket guide to the plants, shells, birds and habitats of the 40-acre city-owned park, was "truly a labor of love," said author Louise Fabrykiewicz.

Fabrykiewicz is the program director of A Living Museum, leading educational programs for school groups at the nature trail along Alewife Cove, at the western end of the beach. The program is one of the activities of the citizens group Save Ocean Beach. Fabrykiewicz said she created the booklet with the help of Connecticut College's Office of Volunteers for Community Service, donations from Save Ocean Beach and others.

"I have a lot of people to be grateful to," she said.

Three hundred copies were printed. The glossy, 30-page booklet is, as far as she is aware, the first guide to the natural resources of Ocean Beach.

"She has done an amazing job," said Elaine Shapiro, fellow member of Save Ocean Beach. "I've spent my whole life down here (at the beach), and I'm going through this and saying, 'Oh, that's what that's called.' You can tell when something is someone's passion."

Selling for $3 each, the booklets will be available at Save Ocean Beach fundraisers as well as at the gift shop at the beach, Shapiro said. They are also sold from a Save Ocean Beach table at the beach on nights when the beach is open for fireworks, and orders can be placed through the group's website or by leaving a message on its phone.

Fabrykiewicz is also giving copies to teachers she works with on the educational tours of the Alewife Cove nature trail.

The booklet is filled with color photos of the birds, plants, shellfish and shells visitors can find at the beach and the cove, along with facts about each. It includes a section on the six different coastal habitats visible from the observation deck off the nature trail - beach, salt marsh, estuary, dune, tidal marsh and mud flat.

Another section, called "Reasons Not to Litter," tells how long various types of debris take to decompose - 1 million years for a glass bottle; 600 years for monofilament fishing line; 1 to 50 years for cigarette butts and filters. Readers will also find a list of Connecticut College Arboretum and Connecticut Sea Grant publications that give more information about the habitats, plants and animals of the Long Island Sound coast.

The pamphlet ends with this quote from William Niering, the late Connecticut College botany professor: "All natural areas are living museums - exhibits of the plant, animal and mineral world. Each one is a 'show case,' different from every other one just as are the world's great work of art."

j.benson@theday.com

How to get a guide

To obtain a copy of "A Living Museum: Exploring & Beachcombing Ocean Beach Park," visit www.save-oceanbeachpark.org, or call (860) 447-3031 ext. 132 and leave a message.

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