Final phase of Bride Brook restoration project completed

Apr 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: Top Story

EAST LYME, CT — Today, Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, hosted a planting at the site of its Bride Brook restoration project in Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme . The planting marks the completion of the restoration project, the construction of which began in 2009.

Volunteers plant dune grass as part of the Bride Brook restoration project at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Connecticut. (Photo: © Bob Lorenz -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/savethesound)

Save the Sound was joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-3), Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty, East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica and more than 75 volunteers who planted native vegetation to help protect and maintain the dune system surrounding the salt marsh habitat at Bride Brook. The vegetation planted on the dune provides food and habitat for wildlife including protected migratory bird species.

“The completion of this project puts Bride Brook back on the map as the second largest herring run in Connecticut ,” said Gwen Macdonald, Director of Habitat Restoration for Save the Sound. “Not only have we seen outstanding numbers of herring so far, but we are observing positive changes in the marsh community as a result of increased water quality and tidal flow in the marsh system. This sets the stage for diverse populations of migratory fish and bird species in the coming seasons. It also helps to improve the aesthetics in Rocky Neck State Park and increase the available recreational opportunities for residents. We are very appreciative of the support we’ve gotten from our state and federal partners for this project, especially from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

This was the second planting for the Bride Brook restoration project. The first planting took place in April 2010 with more than 100 volunteers and had a 90 percent survival rate for the vegetation that was planted.

In 2009, Save the Sound was awarded $1.5 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for two coastal restoration projects. One of the projects was the restoration of salt marsh habitat and migratory fish passage at Bride Brook in Rocky Neck State Park .

“Bride Brook is a huge win-win for the wildlife habitat and community– an energetic, elegant example of courageous environmental stewardship,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “The Bride Brook restoration project is a shining example of a strategic partnership that has made remarkable improvements to this area for residents and wildlife and made great strides toward strengthening the Long Island Sound. Protecting our state’s precious habitats is vitally important and I look forward to joining the members of the Connecticut delegation to continue support for these projects in the future.”

“Bride Brook is a great example of how the Recovery Act simultaneously spurred job growth and addressed local environmental needs,” said Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-3). “Rehabilitating dune habitats by planting native shrubs and bulbs is the latest component of a project that I am proud to have been a part of over the past three years. I applaud Save the Sound for their hard work in restoring Bride Brook so that future generations can continue to enjoy this valuable resource.”

Project construction at Bride Brook began in October 2009 with the replacement of the degraded culverts and was completed in April 2010. Save the Sound coordinated the replacement of the culvert which increases the chance that river herring will successfully reach Bride Lake to spawn. Last season, more than 164,000 river herring swam through the new culvert. River herring have already started to migrate through the culvert in the 2011 spawning run.

“The Bride Brook project is a tremendous example of a successful stimulus project and DEP appreciates all of the work that Save the Sound put in to make it happen,” said DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. “The ongoing commitment of Save the Sound to this project is extraordinary, as is evidenced by the turnout for the planting of dune grass today, which is needed to bring this tidal area back to a more healthy condition. This project has created jobs for Connecticut workers, addressed the condition of the tidal marsh and created improved passage for what is one of Connecticut ’s largest river herring migratory runs.”

NOAA, in conjunction with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, FishAmerica Foundation , Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and Restore America’s Estuaries, made the Bride Brook project a reality.

Save the Sound’s Flickr page is here.

In addition to Bride Brook, Save the Sound is working on other habitat restoration projects around the state. A list of those projects is available here (pdf).

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