Long Island Sound

Marsh migration research paved way for new NOAA fellow

Mary Schoell
Mary Schoell spent two years researching this stand of cedar trees at Hammonasset as part of her master’s degree program at Yale. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

Most visitors to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn., probably drive by the small stand of cedar trees along the main road without noticing the stark differences.

One group presents healthy deep green funnels pointing skyward. Adjacent is another group partially bare of needles. A few feet away is a clump of standing dead wood, spiny gray branches fully exposed.

The contrasting conditions in this short wooded stretch may be easy for beachgoers to overlook, but Mary Schoell has given it countless hours of attention over the past two years. She’s examined nearly every angle of the health and environment of the same stand of trees, using techniques of dendrochronology to measure growth from tree cores, then assessing impacts of water stress, soil types and elevation. With this data she pieces together a story of how encroaching salt water from sea level rise is affecting tree growth. What she learned there helped pave the way for the next phase in her career, as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association digital coast fellow.

“I’ve been trying to understand the pace and the drivers that convert coastal forest into wetlands,” said Schoell, 27, who grew up in East Haddam and earned her undergraduate degree from UConn and her master’s from the Yale School of the Environment this spring. Between the degrees, she worked for three years for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlantic Coastal Science Division in Rhode Island as a contractor on a living shoreline project.

Nominated by Connecticut Sea Grant for the digital coast fellowship, Schoell is one of nine candidates nationwide chosen in 2020 for the two-year program.

“The NOAA Digital Coast Fellowship is relatively new and Mary is the first candidate from a Connecticut institution to receive one,” said Syma Ebbin, research coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. “We’re excited to see what she can do with this opportunity and how it contributes to her professional development as a coastal scientist.”

Schoell will begin her assignment in August, working out of the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) on Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. There she will work on projects that tap her wetlands expertise to refine and compare different modeling approaches used existing to predict how and where salt marshes will migrate inland as sea level continues to rise. One well recognized model is called SLAMM (Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model). By bringing together modelers from throughout the country, she hopes to assess the potential for a standardized, national mapping tool.

Read more: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/06/17/marsh-migration-research-paved-way-for-new-noaa-fellow/

Article by Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

CT, NY Sea Grants to Create Plan for LIS Debris Reduction

scallop shells on a Connecticut beachAbandoned boats, broken lobster traps, discarded tires and all types of other trash aren’t just eyesores on Long Island Sound’s beaches, coves and channels.

They’re also hazards to wildlife that can impede navigation and threaten human safety and health. To address this problem, Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs will initiate a Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound. The project will gather groups involved in removal and prevention work as the basis for to develop a comprehensive strategy to rid the Sound of as much debris as possible.

The Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound is one of eight projects awarded funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant-Marine Debris Special Projects Competition. A total of $350,000 was awarded for the eight projects, which will be matched by $350,000 from the state programs. The CT-NY project will receive $50,000 in federal funding which will be matched with $53,000 from the two programs. The two Sea Grant programs will develop the plan in cooperation with the EPA Long Island Sound Study, a bi-state cooperative partnership of state and federal agencies, and numerous user groups and organizations concerned about the estuary shared by New York and Connecticut. The NOAA Marine Debris Program coordinators for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will be active participants, sharing insights and experiences from other similar efforts.

Read more:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/04/22/ct-ny-sea-grants-to-create-plan-for-lis-debris-reduction/

 

‘Gardening for Good’ show features Sea Grant’s Preston

Listen and learn about sustainable gardening in “Gardening for Good,” the new monthly radio show hosted by Judy Preston, the Long Island Sound outreach coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant.

It airs at 10 a.m. on Fridays on iWCRV Internet radio: http://icrvradio.com/programs/program/298

The common theme is sustainable gardening, with emphasis on water quality and connecting the watershed to Long Island Sound (and these days, quality of life). Preston shares ways gardeners can work in the dirt without having a negative impact. From tips and techniques to trends and growing towards sustainability, “Gardening for Good” is a great resource! 
Recordings of the first three shows are also available on the website:

  • The April 3 show featured guest Nancy Ballek of Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam
  • The March 6 show featured guest Mary Ellen Lemay, originator of the Pollinator Pathways project in CT and N.Y.
  • For the first show on Feb. 7, Preston provided an overview of the program and gardening resources.

    Flowers from Judy Preston's garden
    Purple coneflowers attract a monarch butterfly in Judy Preston’s garden. Judy Preston / Connecticut Sea Grant

Online Education Resources from Connecticut Sea Grant

living treasuresConnecticut Sea Grant is encouraging teachers and parents to check out the many online educational resources available that can be used for virtual and at-home lessons about Long Island Sound and the larger marine environment.

These can be found on the educational publications section of the CT Sea Grant website. In addition to online resources, a limited number of print copies of Living Treasures: The Plants and Animals of Long Island Sound, and the Spanish language version, Tesoros Vivientes,  that can be mailed to homes free of charge during the viral outbreak on a first-come, first-served basis during the pandemic. A limited number of print copies of CT Sea Grant’s biannual magazine, Wrack Lines, can also be mailed free of charge. Please send requests to: Judy.benson@uconn.edu.

Read more for additional resources.

CT Sea Grant: Re-Thinking Relationships with the Places We Love

Wrack Lines cover

The Fall-Winter 2019-20 issue of Wrack Lines, a publication of Connecticut Sea Grant is now posted at:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=5770. In this issue we’re re-thinking relationships with the places we love.

35 Volunteers Help Kickoff Campaign with Beach Cleanup

Volunteers from the beach cleanup day in New HavenNew Haven – One hundred pounds of litter – everything from deflated Mylar balloons and monofilament fishing line to plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, straws, cigarette butts and lots of bottle caps — filled the buckets and reusable bags of 35 volunteers Thursday at Lighthouse Point Park as they helped launch a campaign to keep plastic trash out of Long Island Sound.

“My husband and I grew up down here, so we just wanted to come and help out,” said Lisa Ratti, who came with her husband Salvatore and their daughters Kylie, 13, Courtney, 11, and Rosalie, 4, from their home in Newington to work with the other volunteers in picking up trash.

The two-hour cleanup on a bright, windy August day at the popular city beach and picnic area was the start of this year’s “Don’t Trash Long Island Sound – Break the Single-Use Plastic Habit” campaign sponsored by the Long Island Sound Study, Connecticut Sea Grant and Mystic Aquarium. Now in its third year, the campaign this year expanded with four groups joining in the kick-off event – The Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound; Audubon Connecticut; The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut chapter; and SoundWaters, which sponsored cleanups at the same time at two Stamford parks.

Read more…

Article by Judy Benson

Shellfish Mapping Tool

A new version of the Connecticut Aquaculture Mapping Atlas has been launched at: http://clear3.uconn.edu/aquaculture/.

The new and improved website was built based on feedback from shellfish interest groups like yours. The latest version of this interactive map viewer includes new data layers and functions. The viewer includes updated commercial and recreational harvest areas, natural beds, and shellfish classification areas as well as a plethora of navigation, environmental condition, and natural resource data. The viewer allows users to overlay map layers, draw new lease areas, and print professional-looking maps.

New to the Mapping Atlas? Take a look at the user guide or listen in to our upcoming webinar “Using the Aquaculture Mapping Atlas for Fun and Profit” to be held on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 from 2 PM to 3 PM. Check out the webinar description below and be sure to contact us with questions or comments. For your convenience, the webinar will also be recorded and archived on the CLEAR website.

Shellfish aquaculture is a large and growing part of Connecticut’s agriculture sector, but site selection is a major challenge. Farmers cultivate oysters, clams and scallops in designated areas of Long Island Sound. Those sites are considered public property and are leased from the state. Because these underwater farms are not located on private property, new or expanding activities are faced with a significant amount of scrutiny. Farmers need to identify growing areas that are biologically productive for their crop while also considering the potential use conflicts or environmental interactions with their activity on those sites. To help improve site selection for aquaculture, the Aquaculture Mapping Atlas was developed. This webinar will introduce the new function and capabilities of Version 4.

Presenters: Tessa Getchis, Connecticut Sea Grant & Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEAR

To register, visit: http://s.uconn.edu/shellfishwebinar

We encourage your feedback so that we can improve the aquaculture and shellfisheries resources we provide. Contact: tessa.getchis@uconn.edu. Technical questions regarding the Atlas should be directed to cary.chadwick@uconn.edu. Data questions should be directed to: kristin.derosia-banick@ct.gov

The Connecticut Aquaculture Mapping Atlas was developed by the University of Connecticut Center for Land Use Education and Research, in collaboration with Connecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Aquaculture.

State’s Aquaculture Industry Nets Benefits from Changes in Federal Plan

TSG2rev

By Sheila Foran for UConn Today

Commercial shellfish farmers who use the ocean to grow their crops off the nation’s coastline now have the same kind of protection against crop losses as do people who farm on land, due to a recent change in federal policy.

The new language providing coverage was added to the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) as part of a recent Farm Bill and is a big deal for Connecticut’s $30 million aquaculture industry.

“We were thrilled to learn that after years of discussion with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), crops that have traditionally not been eligible for federal crop insurance have now been granted coverage under the NAP program,” said Tessa Getchis, a UConn aquaculture extension educator, who was instrumental in the policy change. “That’s a huge step forward for the aquaculture industry now that the program will cover losses due to named tropical storms and hurricanes.”

The program provides financial assistance to producers of what are normally considered non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters resulting in crop losses or the prevention of crop planting. Before the new language, the law stated that commercial shellfish crops could be insured only if they were grown in containers or bags, but that’s not how it’s done in Long Island Sound.

Read more…

New Guide to Help Fish, Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Manage Risks

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 2.17.59 PMNew Guide to Help Fish, Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Manage Risks
 
GROTON CT—A new 285-page illustrated manual, the Northeastern U.S. Aquaculture Management Guide, has just been published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center. Edited by Tessa L. Getchis, Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Extension aquaculture specialist, the manual is a wealth of useful information on potential hazards for those who grow fish, shellfish, and seaweed.  Twenty-five aquaculture extension professionals and many researchers, aquatic animal health professionals and farmers contributed to the information presented in this volume.
 
Every year, the aquaculture industry experiences economic losses due to diseases, pests, adverse weather, or operational mishaps.  This manual identifies many specific risks to help seafood growers identify, manage and correct production-related problems. The guide also includes monitoring and record-keeping protocols, and a list of aquaculture extension professional contacts who can help when there is a problem.
 
The publication was made possible by funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC) to the Northeast Aquaculture Extension Network.  
 
It is available for download in PDF format at: http://agresearch.umd.edu/nrac/publications-0

A Watershed Moment

wonka

By Michael Dietz

Many of us have heard about watershed protection efforts. Perhaps you live in a drinking water supply watershed. Poor Willy Wonka was wrongly accused of poisoning the watershed of his brown river (it turned out to be chocolate). But what is a watershed, really? In physical terms, a watershed is an area of land that drains to a specified point. The size of the watershed depends upon where you put the point. For example, a tiny stream that runs near your home might have a relatively small area of land that drains to it, but the point on the Connecticut River where it meets the Long Island Sound has a very large watershed (11,300 square miles!) that extends all the way up to Canada. So we all live in a watershed, it just depends on where you put the point! Read more…