This January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Connecticut - including our local partner in conservation the Connecticut Audubon Society - designated a new national estuarine research reserve in Long Island Sound. It is the 30th reserve in the national estuarine research reserve system, and the first in the state.
Research reserves are designated to protect a section of an estuary and provide a living laboratory to explore and understand important areas where rivers meet the sea, thus promoting understanding and informed management of coastal habitats. Issues addressed include nonpoint source pollution, habitat restoration, and invasive species. Reserves also help make the nation climate ready by contributing to efforts to make the U.S. coasts more resilient to natural and human-made changes.
The new Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve spans 52,160 acres in the southeastern part of the Constitution State. It includes the landscape-level Mouth of the Connecticut River Important Bird Area - one of the most important salt marshes in the state for birds -- and critical bird habitat at Bluff Point and Haley Farm State Park.
On a whole, the designated area includes critical nesting habitat or migration stopover sites for hundreds of species of birds, including Audubon priority birds like the Saltmarsh Sparrow, American Oystercatcher, and Blue-winged Warbler. The water itself has smallmouth and largemouth bass, northern pike, perch, migrating shad and other fish.