Trustees Release Final Plan to Restore Salt Marsh Habitat at McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
August 15, 2019
Led by NOAA, federal and state Trustees released the Final Restoration Plan for the Lordship Point Gun Club hazardous waste site and Raymark Industries Superfund site, both in Stratford, Connecticut. The plan includes projects to restore salt marsh habitat in the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to address natural resource damages resulting from contaminant releases.
The two contamination releases, although different natural resource damage cases, are in close proximity to one another and resulted in similar injuries, so the Trustees are focusing on restoration at one location in the NWR’s Great Meadows Marsh Unit in Stratford. This combined restoration will leverage funds, to implement a larger, more impactful project, than if restoration activities were kept separate.
Located near where the Housatonic River meets with Long Island Sound, the Great Meadows Marsh Unit is the largest salt marsh complex in Connecticut. NOAA’s future activities here will restore marsh health by removing and placing soils, removing invasive, non-native plants, and other activities to improve this estuary habitat. The restoration will benefit fish, marsh pink—a state-listed endangered plant, diamondback terrapin—a state-listed endangered turtle, salt-marsh sparrow, and other marsh-dependent species.
Estuaries and salt marshes not only provide vital habitats for fish and wildlife, they also serve as sites to trap sediments, sequester and transform excess nutrients and other pollutants, and reduce storm energies to protect local communities. Restoration here will increase the marsh’s area and elevation to respond to sea-level rise, and its benefits to the ecosystem and services to the local community such as reducing nuisance mosquito populations.
To engage the public and stakeholders, the Trustees including NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection coordinated with agency staff, town officials, and local conservation organizations, conducted site visits and held a public meeting to get input on the draft plan. The Trustees incorporated public input into the Final Restoration Plan.