A Whole Watershed As Refuge
First a watershed, then a refuge
Over 12,000 years ago a receding glacier left a watershed in its wake. But it wasn’t until 1952 that the Connecticut River Watershed Council was founded to protect the waters flowing through that ancient footprint. Forty-five years later CRWC worked tirelessly to help establish the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. With that designation, this Watershed’s protection—that of its fish, wildlife, waters, and lands, became a national commitment.
In 1997 the entire Connecticut River watershed was designated as the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Conte Refuge had the distinction of being the first to include an entire watershed as its borders. Its founding was based on conservation, science and partnerships rather than the traditional refuge model of purchasing large tracts of land and leaving them relatively undisturbed.
It was CRWC who donated the first parcel of land to establish the Conte Refuge. The Refuge was a direct reflection and match for CRWC’s work as the sole independent watchdog for the entire Connecticut River basin. It’s now over a decade ago since we first worked with federal, state, and local officials, as well as conservation groups, scientists, farmers, foresters and landowners, to help put Conte on the ground. Conte Refuge is in the process of planning for its next 15 years, through its Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). We are again working with Conte as a partner, planner, and neighbor to help achieve the best possible direction for river protection and Refuge work in the coming decades.
What CRWC is doing today
By working with the Conte Refuge as they create target protection goals through their CCP, we are helping to ensure that a strong commitment to fish and water issues is written large in those long-term goals. So we’re doing our utmost to ensure that good science and an aware public are two of the engines that drive this CCP process. In May, 2007 we convened the first two Friends of Conte Refuge forums. We held two more public forums in April 2008, this time targetting scientific stakeholders. We intend to see that the best science and conservation ideas—all locked-in for the next 15 years—are given their full and proper weight as decisions are made for Conte Refuge. It’s about protecting this great watershed.
Photo credits: ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com
Image Credits at Right - Illustrations: Bill Singleton; Photos: Elisabeth Cianciola, David Deen, ©Chris Hardie, ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com, River Music drawn by Tom Dudley - Greenfield Recorder, CRWC Staff.