New Haven Wetlands Get a Boost

Getting ready for new fish, birds and plants

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John Champion shows Rosa DeLauro those old gates
Photo:Uma Ramiah
The old gates will be replaced this week
Photo:Uma Ramiah
Volunteers transport marsh plants to the duck pond
Photo:Uma Ramiah
New Haven Wetlands Get a Boost
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New Haven Wetlands Get a Boost

Connecticut Fund for the Environment is working to restore 82 acres of wetlands to New Haven's West River and Edgewood parks. This is the largest urban tidal restoration project to date in New England.

John Champion -- of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment -- is trudging through the mud on a rainy Saturday in New Haven. He's followed by a few Connecticut lawmakers. Champion wants to show them a nearly century old tidal gate, soon to be replaced.

"These things date back to 1920."

They want a peek at the old gate, which only allowed water to flow out of West River and Edgewood Parks to the Sound. So tidal wetlands dried up, and wildlife slowly disappeared. But three new gates, to be installed this week, will self-regulate and allow both salt and fresh water to flow in from the Sound.

"Upstream over there the water will go over a wider area, it will change the vegetation, it will allow more and different kinds of animals to get through and it will basically allow a certain part of the park where the water is very stagnant to flush on an ongoing basis as the tide changes twice a day."

The 1.8 million dollar project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will invite fish, birds and saltwater plants back into the river, diversifying the ecosystem.

And those new gates will expand the size of Edgewood Park's duck pond. Raised boardwalks and a boat launch area were installed to ensure people can still enjoy it. And volunteers have planted 6800 new shallow marsh plants in the pond.