State Forester Emery Gluck Talks Fires, Logging and Illegal Dumping in Nehantic State Forest

Fires and logging aren’t typically seen as hallmarks of a healthy forest — but for Connecticut’s 5,000-acre Nehantic State Forest, fires and logging are helping improve the health of the forest. “The basic tenant to forestry is to improve the forest from current conditions to a more healthy and diverse forest,” said Emery Gluck, a state forester managing Nehantic for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “Historically the forest coevolved with fire, then natives burned to make the forest more habitable. Now we are trying to do a replication of what that might have looked like.” For the eleventh

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Vineyard Wind Biologist Talks Common Ground with Fishing Industry

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NEW BEDFORD — With about 20 years of experience on the seas, Crista Bank has worked in academia as a fisheries biologist, conducted research with commercial fishermen, earned her 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license, journeyed across the globe aboard traditional sailing vessels and taught marine science in New England, Southern California and the Florida Keys. In May 2018, she became a fisheries liaison for Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind developer based in New Bedford where she grew up and now lives. The company has two projects in the works — Vineyard Wind I, a 800-megawatt project off the coast

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Survey Reveals 200 Acres of Invasive Hydrilla in Lower Connecticut River

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According to a recent survey, more than 200 acres of the lower third of the Connecticut River is overgrown with hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant that, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, is among the most difficult to control. “The big news from our survey is that hydrilla has been found in the Connecticut River,” said Greg Bugbee, an associate agriculture scientist at the Experiment Station. “The coves – Hamburg Cove and Whalebone Cove — are the most heavily impacted, along with sections near the shoreline that are three feet or less deep.” The hydrilla in the Connecticut River

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A Pesticide Ban, New Revenues, Among Issues Highlighted at Environmental Summit in Hartford

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With the legislative session just three weeks away, advocates, legislators and business owners filled Mather Hall at Trinity College on Wednesday for the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters 2020 Environmental Summit to settle on an environmental agenda for the February 5 start of session. “We got all the advocates and lawmakers in one room where everybody can hear the same thing about what we know the main drivers are going to be for environment and energy legislation this year,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the League. “It’s the whole environmental community in one room.” From a bottle bill to

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Glyphosate Use Faces Public Concern and Continued Use in Southeast Connecticut

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In 2019, amidst public concerns regarding the most common lawncare chemical — glyphosate, also known as RoundUp — the towns of Waterford, Groton and Chester opted to restrict non-organic applications of pesticides. This policy does not prevent the use of RoundUp on private land however. The restrictions were adopted after lawsuits in California against RoundUp’s maker, Monsanto, were decided in favor of plaintiffs who claimed exposure to the herbicide caused their cancer. “The concerns came from a neighborhood in Waterford where there was spraying between the road and the sidewalk curbing,” said Gary Schneider, the new director of Public Works

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State Adds $5 Million to Open Space in 2019, but Delays Announcement for 2020

Wednesday, the State Bond commission approved an additional $5 million for the acquisition of open space and watershed land, providing the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection with a total of $11 million to distribute in grants to the second largest pool of applicants to date.  The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant program received 24 separate applications in its 2019 round of applications, in total requesting requesting considerably more than the usual $5 to $6 million in funding.  “Our administration has set high goals to mitigate the effects of climate change and implement policies that better preserve our

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Road salt, for better or worse is back this winter

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Salt on the roads has becomes a fact of life in New England during the snowy months from November to April, but that was not always so. In 2007, the State of Connecticut changed from a sand-salt combination to the exclusive use of salt on state roads, according to Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, in a November 21 phone conversation. “Salt has its own problems, it’s just less problematic than sand,” said Nursick, who has been with the DOT for about 15 years. “It’s more effective at melting frozen material on the roadways and so it

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Connecticut River Conservancy Hires River Steward, Promoting Conservation, Environmental Justice

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“For good or bad, we are the mouth of the Connecticut river. So everything that is happening upstream is going to impact us,” said Kelsey Wentling, the new Connecticut-based river steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy. “We need to be engaged with groups and communities all throughout the watershed in order to make an impact. It’s a challenge and an opportunity.” Wentling moved to Middletown in September to take on the river steward role. “Personally, I am really interested in figuring out how CRC can participate in opening up access to the river, not just physically, but inviting more different

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Public-Private Partnership Seeds 100,000 Oysters in Niantic River

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EAST LYME — Shellfish experts deposited about 100,000 juvenile oysters into the Niantic River on Saturday, as part of a $10,000 public-private partnership plan by the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission to bolster the river’s oyster population in an effort to increase recreational fishing and improve water quality. “This is the first seeding that we’ll do,” said Peter Harris, chair of the shellfish commission. “We’re pretty confident that we’ll be successful.”  Harris said that this could be the first of multiple seeding if successful. “When they grow out to adults they will set seed and repopulate the area if it’s successful,”

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Fenwick is Site of Second Living Shoreline Project in Connecticut

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Last winter, after years of increasing erosion exacerbated by sea level rise, Long Island Sound breached a protective sand dune offshore of Fenwick leaving a recently restored marsh behind it vulnerable. “There is concern that there is going to be more flooding, especially during large storm events,” said Juliana Barrett, an extension educator for the Connecticut Sea Grant project at the University of Connecticut who has been working in Fenwick for more than a decade. “The other thing is the sociological aspect of it. There is an informal walking path around the beaches of Fenwick. This is where you would

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New First Selectman Underscores Outdoor Recreation for Business in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — In a Tuesday morning interview one week after taking office, First Selectman Robert Smith said the town should strengthen and maintain its wealth of hiking trails and emphasize outdoor recreation as an economic driver for the town. “We really need to look at emphasizing and reaching out to companies that would want to work with our recreation potential here,” Smith said. “We have 70 miles of hiking trails in town between the Nature Conservancy, the land trust, the town, and of course the six state parks. We have six state parks here, and the western boundary is

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Estuary Reserve Would Promote Education, Research, in Southeast Connecticut

In an era of changing climate, conservationists say the answers to critical questions about rising sea levels will be found in estuaries — the dynamic habitats typically formed where freshwater rivers meet tidal oceans or lakes. This has motivated Connecticut to seek a federal partnership for an estuary reserve along the state’s southeastern shore. In December 2018, Connecticut submitted a proposal to the federal government nominating portions of the Connecticut River Estuary, Thames River, and Long Island Sound to be recognized as the nation’s 30th National Estuary Research Reserve — a kind of federal and state partnership to promote education,

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Old Dams and New Problems for Connecticut Homeowners

In 2008, Debbie Rosener bought a house and moved to Killingworth, a small town in the lower Connecticut River Valley. She planned for a quiet retirement. What she hadn’t planned for when she purchased the property was that she would also unwittingly purchase a dam in the bargain, a dam that was on the verge of collapse. “The previous owner had been aware of the dam, but it’s not required to disclose [that], so Debbie was unaware,” explained said Sally Harold, Director of River Restoration and Fish Passage at the Nature Conservancy. “An owner has an obligation to maintain the

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ATV Use Damages New 1000-Acre Preserve in Southeast Connecticut

OLD SAYBROOK — Just four years after its acquisition as a conservation area, the protected vernal pools, scrub-shrub swamp and Atlantic white cedar swamps of The Preserve are being damaged by frequent use of all-terrain vehicles. “Lately there has been more complaints about ATV use than ever,” said Ray Allen, the director of Parks and Recreation in Old Saybrook. “We are not sure if it is related to what Eversource did to widen their powerline sections or if maybe a few kids just got new ATVs.” At the time of its purchase, the nearly 1,000 acres located in Old Saybrook,

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Old Lyme Finalizes Purchase of 300-acre McCulloch Farm

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OLD LYME — On Tuesday, the town closed on the $600,000 purchase of the McCulloch Farm, a 300-acre parcel that includes two three-acre sites designated for affordable housing. First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced the purchase of the farm, established by the McCulloch family in 1927, at Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. “I am very pleased to report that this afternoon at about 4 o’clock, we closed on the McCulloch family open space parcel that we have talked about for so long, so now we are the very proud owners of about 300 acres of wooded land that I have

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A Die-off of 3-5% of Connecticut’s Forests within 5 years from Invasive Ash Borer

As of this spring, the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that attacks native ash trees, is present in every shoreline town in Connecticut. In less than five years, it is expected that all ash trees in the region will be dead. “The population growth is an exponential growth, it always catches people off guard,” said Claire Rutledge, an associate agricultural scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “Somewhere in the next three to five years most of the ashes in Middlesex and New London County will be dead, the growth curve is about to spike.” The ash borer, originally

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