A Photo Essay On the Jonah Center Vision

The Site

The view from the top of the retired Middletown landfill is spectacular. Here you see the Mattabesset River at an area known in colonial times as "Boggy Meadow" or "The Great Swamp." This area is ideal for canoeing, kayaking, and bird watching, but due to lack of public access to these waterways, it is almost entirely unknown to residents of Middletown and surrounding communities. The Jonah Center plans to build a car-top boat launch adjacent to the landfill so that canoeists and kayakers can reach the Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers more easily.


The view below shows the North End Peninsula at the confluence of the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, Wilcox Island in the Connecticut River, and the historic brownstone quarries on the Portland side of the Connecticut River.


The rivers and marshes surrounding the North End Peninsula are home to a wide variety of birds, mammals, fish, trees, grasses, and insects. The Jonah Center documents these species through our on-line biodiversity database and by advocating the preservation of this valuable habitat. The public is encouraged to submit sightings and photos of plants and animals from anywhere in Middletown.


The Jonah Center offers recreational outings to the North End Peninsula and the Boggy Meadows to increase the publics appreciation of this area, its wildlife, and its ecological value. We also provide opportunities for local residents to help clean up the watershed through special "River Clean Up" events.

Environmental Studies

The Jonah Center has already engaged faculty and students of Wesleyan University, The University of Connecticut, and Manchester Community College in a variety of academic programs.

Wesleyan Biology Professor Barry Chernoff and students study aquatic life in the Coginchaug River.

Wesleyan geochemistry students under the direction of Professor Timothy Ku studied Middletown’s landfill for its potential as a source of usable methane gas. Their report to the City of Middletown encouraged the Jonah Center’s landfill methane project.

A Wesleyan architecture course on Green Building Design concluded with students designing and constructing models of a future Jonah Center facility. This model was presented by Josh Aronson.

Wesleyan student Jonah Center model Wesleyan student Jonah Center model

The Jonah Center helped organize and conduct BioBlitz 2007. Researchers from all over the United States converged in Middletown and identified 2,231 plant and animal species within a 24 hour period.

Renewable Energy

The North End Peninsula provides sources of renewable energy that could lower the city’s use of fossil fels and demonstrate to students and the public a variety of technologies needed to combat global warming.

Landfill emissions contain approximately 50% methane, a gas which is 23 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Capturing this gas could be financed by selling the methane for local use and selling the greenhouse gas reduction credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. This project would keep many tons of methane from escaping into the atmosphere. Below, John Hall takes energy professionals on a walk to the top of the landfill.

Biomass (woodchips) deposited at the city’s transfer station give off heat and gas that could be captured to produce heat and electricity for the nearby Remington Building. The Jonah Center would like to collaborate with the city in a demonstration of the BioMax 50 gasifier, produced by Community Power Corporation in Littleton, Colorado.

Environmental Art

The Jonah Center would like to beautify the North End Peninsula and attract visitors through environmental art. Wood brush from locally trimmed trees and other discarded objects (tires, cans, stone) would be the preferred construction materials. Below are some examples of environmental art.

Stream Path

"Stream Path" by Gilles Bruni and Marc Barbarit
at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

No More Milk and Cookies sculpture

"No More Milk and Cookies"
by Chakaia Booker at the
DeCordova Sculpture Park in
Lincoln, Mass. Constructed from
used tires and wood.

"Toad House" by Patrick Dougherty
in Santa Barbara, CA. Constructed from willow saplings.

“Storm King Wall” by Andy Goldsworthy
at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY.