In 2012, the Connecticut River Watershed, which shares a boundary with the Silvio O. Conte U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge (Conte Refuge), was designated as a National Blueway. This designation has brought increased attention to the watershed and helped shine a spotlight on the awesome work that’s been happening in the refuge for decades.
Tremendous progress has been made in conserving land in the watershed. To date over 37,000 acres, valued at $33 million, have been protected through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Forest Legacy Program. Through a new initiative, Campaign to Connect the Connecticut, AMC and the Friends of Conte will seek to identify priority lands for conservation and expand the use of other federal, state, and local funding resources for land conservation. AMC is a leader in the Friends of Conte, a coalition of comprised of 70 public and private organizations all working to steward and protect the 410-mile Connecticut River watershed and surrounding communities.
We are excited to use a new tool to identify priority lands for conservation in the watershed. The Connect the Connecticut (CTC) is a partnership effort to create a landscape conservation design for the Connecticut River watershed that provides a roadmap for identifying the best starting places for conservation. Using GIS and mapping data from a multitude of organizations, the CTC identifies areas that partners agree should be conservation priorities in order to ensure that important species, habitats, and natural processes will be sustained into the future, even in the face of climate and land-use change. The Friends of Conte will be hosting multiple trainings over the upcoming year to teach stakeholders how to utilize this new tool to prioritize their land conservation efforts.
In January, the Conte Refuge released its final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). This plan will guide the refuge’s management for the next 15 years and has an ambitious plan of acquiring up to 197,337 acres for the refuge from willing sellers. This land conservation will be focused in Conservation Focus Areas throughout the refuge in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Friends of Conte, through the Campaign to Connect the Connecticut will work to help achieve this land conservation goal.
In addition to land conservation in the refuge AMC is also working to expand recreation in the watershed. Last year we developed two new primitive campsites, in Montague and Whately, Massachusetts as part of the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail. We hope to develop an additional two to three campsites in Massachusetts and Connecticut in the next year. The goal of the Paddlers’ Trail is have a system of campsites and access points along the Connecticut River from New Hampshire to the Long Island Sound.
For more information contact Kristen Sykes, Director of Conservation Strategies, email@example.com