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Upper Connecticut Home Rivers Initiative - Connecticut

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Upper Connecticut Home Rivers Initiative - Connecticut
This May, the Upper Connecticut Home Rivers Initiative kicked off with the hiring of Joe Norton as the project coordinator. Joe is a NH Native and a graduate of Montana State. While in college, he guided fly fishers in and around Yellowstone Park and south western Montana. After college he moved to Lewiston Idaho, to work for Idaho Fish & Game and owned and operated a fly shop in the city for many years before moving back to NH. Before coming to TU, he previously worked for the NH Wildlife Federation.

The upper Connecticut watershed begins at the headwaters of the Connecticut River and ends at the Nulhegan River near Bloomington Vt. It contains 15 tributaries in VT and NH, encompassing an area of over 550 square miles. Eastern Brook Trout (EBT) are native to the entire watershed and are the focus species of our Home Rivers Initiative. TU’s conservation efforts will focus on protection through buffer creation, streamside enhancements and fencing, restoring degraded instream habitat by insertion of wood and other fish habitat, reconnecting fragmented habitats through culvert removal and replacement, and sustaining through long-term monitoring and supporting land protection efforts.

This past summer was the “ramping-up” phase of the project. A presence in the North Country has been established through relationship building at various agencies and among the conservation community. Joe recently moved into a seasonal office in downtown Lancaster, which is conveniently located in the heart of the project area.

There are many challenges that need attention throughout the watershed. Some such problems are the lack of riparian buffers along the main stem of the Connecticut and many of its tributaries. Culverts are also a watershed-wide problem with over half posing barriers to fish migration. Decades of historical logging practices have severely degraded cold water habitat throughout the watershed. In 2009, riparian plantings will be conducted on a patchwork basis throughout the watershed and its tributaries with willing partners and landowners. Culverts identified in the initial assessment will be prioritized for future removal or replacement.

From our assessment and site visits, Indian stream has been identified as the first of the tributaries to receive a major facelift. Indian stream is a major tributary of the mainstem. It lacks instream diversity, with little woody habitat in the stream. It is sinuous, susceptible to reaching high temperatures in the summer months due to shallowness, lacks riparian buffers in many reaches and has several culverts that act as barriers to fish migration.

Next spring, restoration efforts will continue by conducting an aerial survey and geomorphic assessment of Indian stream. Plantings along the river bank are also planned to shade the water to help maintain temperature regimes and prevent bank erosion, which dumps unwanted sediment and particles into the water. For more information, please contact Joe Norton at (603) 788-3147.

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