Natural Resources

UConn EDEN

immersion suits
Trainer Ed Dennehy from Fishing Partnership Support Services watches as fishermen practice entering the water in their immersion suits properly. Photo: Nancy Balcom.

UConn EDEN is part of the nationwide EDEN system located at all the land-grant institutions, and is based-on four strategic goals:

(1) Enhance the abilities of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, businesses, and institutions prepare for, prevent, mitigate, and recover from disasters and emergencies.

(2) Serve as a statewide resource for university research-based disaster outreach education.

(3) Strengthen Extension’s capacity and commitment to address disaster and emergency preparedness issues.

(4) Strengthen Extension’s capacity to provide research-based disaster education and scholarship.

 

 

UConn Extension Educators from diverse disciplines respond to four program areas:

  • agricultural disasters and security
  • human health and emergency preparedness
  • community preparedness and resiliency
  • workplace emergency preparedness

Connecting with Emergency Preparedness Resources

Article by Mary Ellen Welch

beach houseEmergency preparedness is an issue for an increasing number of people and families. No matter the season, take steps in advance, and be ready for storms or other natural disasters. Personal experiences with storms – Tropical Storm Irene (2011), Sandy (2012) – and conditions that produce snow, winds, flooding and storm surge, serve as reminders. Weather events can impair your health and safety, limit access to roads, cause property and tree damage and loss of electricity.

At the Universities of Connecticut and Rhode Island, a team of Extension and Sea Grant educators is addressing coastal preparedness through a USDA-NIFA Special Needs grant. UConn Extension has created a preparedness education program to help people, including those with pets and livestock, prepare for storm emergencies. UConn Extension’s EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network) website contains a compilation of emergency preparedness resources designed by experts.

The collaborative team includes Mary Ellen Welch, disaster preparedness team leader; Robert Ricard, UConn EDEN team leader; Juliana Barrett, coastal preparedness; Karen Filchak, family and community development; Diane Wright Hirsch, food safety; Joyce Meader, dairy and livestock; Jenifer Nadeau, equine specialist; Faye Griffiths-Smith, family economics and resource management; and Pamela Rubinoff, University of Rhode Island, coastal resilience specialist.

Pamela Rubinoff is developing Rapid PACE (rapid Property Assessment of Coastal Exposure), a storm mapping, assessment and planning tool, so municipal officials, coastal communities and residents can assess potential storm hazards. The tool aggregates existing high resolution map data from multiple sources and will generate user friendly reports that summarize the potential impacts of storms upon specific parcels of land in coastal Rhode Island.

In Connecticut, focus groups met in four coastal communities – East Lyme, Old Lyme, Groton and Stonington. A diverse group of community representatives participated – fire marshals, emergency/health managers, social services, school and library personnel, housing/senior center directors and beach association members. Their knowledge about local residents and resources is guiding the team to reach audiences with functional needs; people living alone without family nearby; people with limited English proficiency; part-time residents or visitors; the large and mobile military service population; seniors and families.

Juliana Barrett is assisting communities with finding new ways to reach both their year round residents and transient populations who might be on vacation for a weekend or a couple of weeks. By developing flyers for rental units with pertinent information, she hopes to engage people in what to do and where to go should an emergency occur.

“Prepare your family now so they will feel in control when severe weather arises,” affirms Faye Griffiths-Smith. “Have emergency kits as well as a plan for communicating if you are separated. A pre-determined place you will go can make dealing with a stressful situation more manageable. Review these plans and your emergency supplies periodically.”

Karen Filchak recommends, “Think about and prepare for situations where property may be damaged, lost or destroyed. Do you have insurance information for repairs, records to prove ownership of a vehicle that floated away or documents to prove the value of the contents of your home? Having the appropriate documents and financial information will help in recovery from the impacts of a destructive event.”

Food and water safety/provisions is a health issue during and after storms. The UConn Extension Food Safety website has publications on: pre-storm shopping, whether you should keep or discard food during a power outage and what to do if garden produce becomes flooded. Interior and exterior household preparation may limit loss and can impact your health and comfort during storms.

The UConn EDEN website contains pet friendly advice about necessary pet provisions whether staying at home or away. “Livestock typically are housed in their barns during storms,” indicates Joyce Meader. “Keep barns in good structural condition so they will protect animals and keep them safe.”

“It is never too early to begin planning for the possibility of a disaster,” advocates Jenifer Nadeau. “Hopefully you never have to experience one, but being prepared is half the battle.” A microchipping clinic is being offered this fall as an additional way to help identify horses.

Extension’s Climate Adaptation Academy Explores Legal Issues

living shoreline
Living shoreline in Stonington. Photo: Juliana Barrett.

The Climate Corps is in part a response to the ongoing work of Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, two Extension educators who form the CLEAR/Sea Grant climate team. The Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA) created by the two has been engaging community officials, citizens and others for over four years, in a series of iterative workshops designed to gather input as much as to dispense information. The CAA’s latest focus is on the many legal issues that can arise at the local level as a result of climate change. A workshop in the fall of 2015 on this topic, Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, was a sell-out and ended with a long Q&A session between workshop participants and a panel of six prominent land use attorneys. Faced with a long list of complex legal questions, only a few of which could be addressed at the workshop, Barrett and Hyde decided to pursue the matter by contacting the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program (one of only four Sea Grant legal and policy centers in the nation). The result is a new series of fact sheets on high priority climate-related legal issues, which are being widely distributed and will be the basis for follow-up workshops. “We feel that we’re exploring some very important issues that have not been addressed to date, likely because they are relatively new and complex,” says Hyde. “I think this proves that the iterative nature of the CAA works, because these issues surfaced at the workshop and came straight from the towns.”

Climate Corps, Harnessing the Power of Students

Article by Chet Arnold

Tom Martella
Tom Martella. Photo: Juliana Barrett.

Extension faculty is leading a collaborative new program focused on the impact of climate change on Connecticut communities. The UConn Climate Corps will bring together undergraduates enrolled in the environmental majors with town officials, to the benefit of both groups. The program is supported for three years by a competitive grant from the UConn Provost’s Office, in support of the Academic Plan goals of Excellence in Undergraduate Education and Public Engagement.

Students at the University are increasingly interested in the topic of climate change, which many feel is the environmental issue of our time. At the same time, many communities across Connecticut are struggling with how to adapt to climate change, and how to marshal the resources needed to do so. To address these complementary needs, Extension faculty associated with the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) have developed the Climate Corps, a new multi-departmental collaboration at UConn that will combine classroom instruction and service learning to create a unique assistance program for Connecticut communities. Students in the Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, and Environmental Engineering majors will be recruited for the program, which consists of a class during the fall semester and in-the-field work with town officials during the following spring semester.

The class, Climate Resilience and Adaptation: Municipal Policy and Planning, will first be offered in the fall semester of 2017-2018 academic year and will focus on local, practical issues and impacts arising from climate change. Extension’s Juliana Barrett will lead the course but will be team-taught by Climate Corps team members and outside experts. “This course is not so much about the physical science of climate change as it is about local policy responses,” says Barrett. “In order for the students to really understand how climate change can affect local policies and operations, they have to have a firm grasp on how decisions are made at the town level, so there will be a focus on local decision making and on the federal and state legal frameworks in which towns operate.”

Students who complete the fall course are then eligible for the spring practicum course, led by Extension’s Bruce Hyde. The practicum builds upon the ongoing work of Hyde and Barrett, who form the CLEAR/Sea Grant climate team and have been working with towns for several years, including organizing a series of workshops called the Climate Adaptation Academy (see tools and training at right). Students will break up into teams of 3 or 4, each working with Hyde and other Extension faculty to engage selected towns on climate adaptation needs. Towns will have to apply to be included in the program, and several towns have already expressed interest before the application form has been issued. After meeting with town officials the students will embark on one or more projects designed to support the town’s adaptations efforts. These projects could include vulnerability assessments, evaluation of adaptation options, outreach strategies and products for educating the citizens, or other options.

A land use planner with over 30 years of experience working at the municipal level, Hyde is in tune with the world of local government. “Most towns understand that planning for climate adaptation is critical, yet many are unable to find the resources to begin the process,” says Hyde. “Our experience with our Extension undergraduate interns over the past several years has taught us that these students can do very high quality, sophisticated work, and we want to harness that work to the benefit of the towns. And at the same time, it provides a great ‘real world’ service learning experience for the students.” He notes that through their undergraduate training and simply by the technology-friendly nature of their generation, the students have the capacity to perform research, mapping and other tasks that are beyond the reach of busy local planners.

The Climate Corps is a unique multi-department collaboration between CLEAR, Connecticut Sea Grant, and the three Environmental majors, which in turn involve the departments of Geography, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Natural Resources and the Environment. The project team, which includes the Directors of all of these programs in addition to Barrett and Hyde, feels strongly that the Corps can become a model program that eventually can be expanded in scope, expanded in topical focus, and perhaps adapted by other universities and other states. Class starts in September!

Job Opportunity

trail icon

* JOB OPPORTUNITY * 2017- 2018 Part-Time Coordinator Position with the Connecticut Trail Census

The Connecticut Trail Census CTTC) is seeking a dynamic multi-use trail (bike-pedestrian) enthusiast to serve as the point person and part-time coordinator for project (~17 hours/week).  The CTTC is a new study and volunteer based data collection program on 15 multi-use trail sites throughout the state involving partnership with many local and statewide trail advocacy groups and hundreds of volunteers.  Duties will include responding to informational inquiries from volunteers and the public, collecting data from and maintaining infrared trail counters, coordinating logistics for and co-teaching volunteer trainings, compiling funding reports and maintaining contact databases, convening partner meetings, and creating communications including media releases, e-newsletters, and website updates.  The successful candidate will be  an excellent written and verbal communicator, proficient with Word and Excel, have demonstrated program management skills and/or experience, and a passion for supporting trails and the people that use them.  Desirable skills include experience with data management and analysis (including data visualization tools), WordPress, MailChimp or other e-newsletter platforms, and volunteer management.  This position is funded at $23/hour and is currently funded through January 2018. Location is flexible but candidate must have a vehicle, internet access and be willing to use their own computer. More information about the program can be found at http://cttrailcensus.uconn.edu  Please send a short cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, three reference contacts, and resume to laura.brown@uconn.edu as soon as possible.  Open until filled.

Online Course Catalog of Extension Programs

course catalog imageThere are more than one hundred UConn Extension specialists working throughout Connecticut. These educators are teaching and training in local communities, sharing their experience and knowledge with residents through a variety of programs. These instructional activities now will be easily accessible with the creation of an online extension course catalog.

Extension classes address a wide range of topics, including issues related to agriculture and food systems, the green industry, families and community development, land use and water, nutrition and wellness as well as numerous 4-H and youth activities. The website uses these groupings and an A to Z index so finding offerings is simple and straightforward. Each program links to a page with information on the objectives, goals, components, intended audience, the time of year and how often programs run and a link to the program’s website, that provides additional information.

As part of a nationwide network through the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Extension professionals and trained volunteers engage the state’s diverse population to make informed choices and better decisions. The partnerships enrich our lives and our environment.

View the course catalog online at http://s.uconn.edu/courses.

The Dean’s Chair

Article by Tom Worthley

bench tag
Photo: Defining Studios

Sometime early in 2016 a sugar maple tree died somewhere on campus and was removed by the UConn arborist crew. Knowing that our UConn student Forest Crew runs a portable bandsaw mill on occasion, arborist John Kehoe arranged to have some of the larger logs from the tree dropped off at the wood yard, thinking they might be of interest.

The logs remained there on the ground throughout the summer while the Forest Crew worked on other projects.

In October of 2016, for the annual Cornucopia fest, the Forest Crew set up their portable band saw mill on the corner of the quad as part the Forestry exhibit and to conduct a sawmilling demonstration. Needing logs for the demonstration, Professor Worthley suggested that the crew, “Bring over a couple of those old maple logs that have been laying around.”

Now, some sawyers will tell you that making the first cut into a sawlog can be like opening a gift package – sometimes you find something special – and such was the case here. The maple lumber from this not-so-special log exhibited some very interesting figure and color and a bit of “spalting” (a black meandering line that can be seen in spots), all characteristics that are prized and valued by woodworkers. The lumber was stored away in the shed to wait for some special purpose to present itself (or, perhaps, for some wealthy wood-working customer to come along).

Dean with chair
Photo: Defining Studios

When Dean Weidemann announced his retirement and with that announcement came the topic of a recognition gift, the question arose as to whether something could be made from “UConn wood”, and lo and behold, a special purpose presented itself. So pieces of the Cornucopia-fest maple were loaded onto the old Ford pickup and delivered to the artisans and craftsmen at City Bench, in Higganum. There they were kiln-dried, planed, turned, book-matched and assembled into the bench we are proud to present today.

The “Product of UConn Forest” and “Connecticut Grown” brands provide recognition that raw materials in this item were locally grown and produced following sustainable forest management practices.

Biological Control Short Course Offered

people in field
Photo: Auerfarm

Xerces Society’s Conservation Biological Control Short Course

4-H Education Center at Auer Farm
158 Auer Farm Rd.
Bloomfield, CT

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
9:00 am – 4:30 pm EDT

Learn a science-based strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects for natural pest control with instructor Dr. Ana Legrand from UConn!

To register and read course agenda follow this link: http://s.uconn.edu/3mt

Legal Issues and Climate Adaptation

fact sheets
A number of questions were raised at Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, a conference held by UConn CLEAR’s and Connecticut Sea Grant’s Climate Adaptation Academy in late 2015. The Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program at Roger Williams University School of Law reviewed the questions, which came from the audience during the course of the conference. The Legal Program then developed four fact sheets addressing the following topics: Takings and Coastal Management; Property and Permitting Boundaries at the Shoreline; Government Tort Liability for Disclosure of Flood Hazard Information; Flood and Erosion Control Structures. The fact sheets can be found at: http://climate.uconn.edu/
Also a UConn Clear Webinar with regard to the fact sheets will be held on May 2:  http://clear.uconn.edu/webinars/CLEARseries17/index.htm

Where Bears Are

bears
Sightings of black bears in Connecticut are becoming increasingly common. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Rittenhouse)

UConn CAHNR faculty member Tracy Rittenhouse was recently featured in the UConn Today article about bears in Connecticut. Tracy tells us: “We recently estimated the population size of black bears in the state at 427+/- 30 bears. We (with UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research) created this online story map that people can use to learn about bears in their neighborhood:
http://clear3.uconn.edu/viewers/bears/