Housatonic River restoration begins in Connecticut
A 25-acre floodplain on the Housatonic River in New Milford, Conn., was permanently protected by the Northwest Conservation District at the end of November 2010. A trail will be constructed to provide access to the public, and habitat restoration activities will help control invasive species. The wildlife preserve could open within a year.
Known as Indian fields, the area nestled between the river and Route 7 was historically farmed by Native Americans. The Northwest Conservation District purchased the land in November. The NCD will work with partners to remove invasive species, plant native flora and create a trail and viewing platform for the public.
The park will be used for passive recreation, such as bird watching, said Curtis Read, the chairman of the NCD board, to the Litchfield County Times.
The General Electric Company (GE) in Pittsfield, Mass., released polychlorinated biphenyls into the Housatonic River for more than 40 years, contaminating the water, sediment, riverbanks and floodplain. A settlement with GE in 2000 procured $15 million in natural resource damages in the Massachusetts and Connecticut watershed.
Veronica Varela, a former biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s New England Field Office, and trustees from Connecticut and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration allocated nearly $8 million in 2009 for natural resource restoration in the Housatonic River watershed in Connecticut. The protection of the New Milford property is part of this restoration.
The nearby Town of Harwinton, Conn., recently purchased 3.5 acres along the Naugatuck River to provide residents with a public fishing area. The town used funds from the Housatonic River settlement to purchase recreational access easements along the popular trout stream.