The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced funding of $23,000 for a phragmites control project in a residential area located adjacent to the Oyster River in Milford and West Haven. The announcement and presentation of a symbolic check to the City of Milford took place at Baybrook Beach, West Haven.
The project will help restore a 37-acre brackish tidal marsh to a more natural state. Twenty-seven acres are tidal wetlands in the Oyster River system and are dominated by phragmites, an invasive plant species.
DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, “The DEP is committed to habitat restoration and recognizes the importance of restoring tidal wetlands to their natural state. The phragmites control project along the Oyster River in Milford and West Haven is a fine illustration of a project that will provide improved habitat for animals, birds and native plants.”
“Speaking on behalf of the citizens of Milford, we are grateful for the financial assistance of the State of Connecticut, which enables us to undertake this project,” said James L. Richetelli, Jr., Mayor of Milford. “It is our responsibility to protect our natural resources and habitats, and anytime we can do so in conjunction with our state and local partners, it is truly a victory for everyone.”
John Picard, Mayor of West Haven said, “I want to personally thank and commend the DEP for its leadership and commitment to restoring the tidal wetlands of the Oyster River to their natural state and to preserving the estuary and surrounding ecosystem for future generations.”
Representative Dick Roy (D-Milford) said, “I remember fishing and playing on the banks of a healthy and vibrant Oyster River as a young boy. The project we are undertaking will restore the Oyster River to a more natural state so that the ecology and habitats of those waters will come back to life and so people can once again fully enjoy this natural resource.”
Representative Paul Davis (D-Milford, Orange, West Haven) said, “This project will help restore the natural stream flow, beauty, and ecological balance of the Oyster River. It was the result of dedicated efforts on the part of numerous local residents, elected officials, and friends of the environment.”
“The local effort to restore the Oyster River after years of issues with flooding and pollution is further bolstered by this project,” said Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford). “Invasive species are a serious environmental concern. I’m grateful for the DEP’s commitment to Milford and West Haven, to the Oyster River and to this important ecosystem.”
City of West Haven Councilwoman Gail Burns said, “The Connecticut DEP has truly been responsive to our concerns regarding the degraded wetlands of the Oyster River. The residents of the Oyster River neighborhood have been looking forward to this project and anxiously await the restoration of our tidal wetlands and the improved habitat for wildlife.”
Phragmites is an aggressive plant species that has taken over thousands of acres of marsh in Connecticut. A tall, perennial grass that grows in brackish, tidal fresh water and non-tidal freshwater wetlands, native phragmites have grown in Connecticut for a very long time. It is estimated that ten percent of Connecticut’s tidal wetlands are dominated by phragmites.
Thick stands of phragmites form a barrier to the movement of animals and large birds such as ducks, shorebirds, and wading birds and also restrict tidal flow. The shade from large stands of phragmites hinders the growth of native plants and plant diversity is reduced. Overall, the presence of phragmites appears to be detrimental to the overall ecological functioning of tidal wetlands.
For more information on phragmites visit: www.ct.gov/dep/invasivespecies
Over the past thirty years, Connecticut has worked with federal partners to protect sensitive wildlife habitat and create acres of wetlands along the Connecticut coast.
Commissioner Marrella added, “The Connecticut Tidal Wetland Restoration Team is a multi-agency and multi-stakeholder group that has partnered for nearly 30 years to advance the restoration of degraded tidal wetlands at 71 sites for an acreage exceeding 1,148 acres. The team recently received a Coastal America Partnership Award for their outstanding efforts to restore and protect the coastal environment. In addition, the Wetland Habitat & Mosquito Management Program (WHAMM) monitors 110 areas and has controlled Phragmites on 3,085 acres since the program began in 2000.”