Our Region & Rivers
The Connecticut River starts as a mere trickle at the northern tip of New Hampshire, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. Moose, heron, and the rare pine marten drink from these headwaters. Loons call across the Connecticut Lakes. It is a rugged area, known for its beauty and for the solace that can be found in its large stands of spruce fir forests.
The river flows 410 miles, draining more than 11,000 square miles. On its southward journey, the Connecticut passes under covered bridges, and flows by swallows’ nests, steepled churches, and Native American petroglyphs. As it is joined by other streams and rivers, its bed expands and its flow increases. Sometimes meandering, other times rushing headlong downsteam, the Connecticut River flows past a diverse landscape of rich farmlands, rural communities, and urban centers.
As it flows to Long Island Sound, the lower Connecticut’s network of freshwater and brackish marshes contains wetlands of international importance. Their undisturbed marshes are havens for the shortnose sturgeon, piping plover, and other rare species, offering food-rich nurseries and pathways for migratory fish and birds.
The River provides us with power, transportation, and food. It is famous for its log drives and the innovative precision manufacturing that took place along its banks. It was the nation’s first large river developed for transportation. Recently, its ecological value has begun to receive wider acclaim. In 1997, the Connecticut River Watershed Council donated Third Island in Deerfield, MA to formally establish the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. It is the only Refuge designated to protect the flora and fauna of an entire watershed and one of just a handful that has fisheries protection as a key mandate. The Connecticut is also one of only 14 presidentially-designated American Heritage Rivers in the U.S., an acknowledgment that its rich heritage, ecological importance and natural diversity have national significance.
Photo credits (above): The Trust for Public Land
Image Credits at Right - Illustrations: Bill Singleton; Photos: ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com, CRWC Staff