Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a proposal to use approximately $2 million from the 1999 Housatonic River settlement to fund seven projects to increase fish habitat and restore marshes. The public is invited to learn more about the proposal on February 19th at 7 pm at the Kent Town Hall.
A Draft Amendment detailing the seven projects is available on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website at www.ct.gov/deep/naturalresources and on the Environmental Protection Agency’s GE/Housatonic River site website at http://www.epa.gov/region1/ge. A paper copy is available to review at DEEP Eastern District Headquarters, 209 Hebron Road, Marlborough.
The public will have until March 11, 2013 to submit written comments regarding the Draft Amendment to the Plan. Comments should be sent to Robin Adamcewicz, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Eastern District Head quarters, 209 Hebron Road, Marlborough, CT 06447, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve enjoyed remarkable success restoring natural resources and providing new recreational opportunities in the Housatonic watershed in Connecticut, and we are gratified to have the opportunity to fund additional projects that will further accomplish these goals,” said Rick Jacobson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director and Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil member.
Several projects would increase habitat for migratory fish, such as river herring; one through the removal of the Pinshop dam in Watertown and another via construction of a bypass channel to facilitate fish movement around the Tingue Dam on the Naugatuck River in Seymour. Several marsh restoration projects in Milford and Stratford are also proposed to improve estuarine wildlife habitat. Finally, an analysis of barriers to fish passage at road crossings would be conducted in the upper watershed to identify opportunities to improve stream connectivity through culvert replacement.
“These settlement funds would allow our partners to continue to implement important restoration work in the Housatonic,” said USFWS Field Office Supervisor Tom Chapman. “And in looking forward, we are fortunate for the opportunity to collaborate with the Housatonic Valley Association, the Ousatonic Fish and Game Club, state and federal agencies, and a local business, to improve wildlife habitat in the river.”
Funding comes from a 1999 settlement with General Electric that included $7.75 million for projects in Connecticut aimed at restoring, rehabilitating or acquiring the equivalent of the natural resources and recreational uses of the Housatonic River that were injured by the release of PCBs from the GE facility in Pittsfield, Mass. Settlement funds grew to more than $9 million in an interest-bearing fund.
The allocation of these funds is the responsibility of the Natural Resource Trustee SubCouncil for Connecticut, which is composed of the natural resource trustees from the State of Connecticut and the federal Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The original restoration plan, released in July 2009, awarded funding for 27 projects including about $2.8 million for riparian and floodplain natural resources, $2.6 million for recreational use of natural resources, and $1.7 million for aquatic natural resources.