UConn has joined a planning group that will discuss ways to maintain and improve the Natchaug Basin, a 114,000-acre tract of land and water that contains a diversity of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. It is the largest public surface drinking water supply watershed in Connecticut.
More than half of UConn’s Storrs campus sits within the basin, and water from the basin’s three main rivers – the Fenton, Natchaug, and Mount Hope – supports the water needs of the University and 22,000 residents of Mansfield and Willimantic. It is also valued for its wildlife habitat, its history, and its beauty, and as a recreation resource.
Besides UConn, the Natchaug Basin Conservation Action Planning program includes representatives from each of the eight towns located in the watershed, local conservation organizations, and state and local agencies.
The Green Valley Institute, a program in UConn’s Department of Extension, is leading the effort. The group will begin meeting in October.
“UConn is a uniquely positioned partner, capable of providing scientific expertise and research as well as outreach and education,” University President Michael J. Hogan said.
“It is extremely important that the University contribute its resources and expertise to the preservation of Connecticut’s environment, especially areas of such significance.”
The planning committee will be working to identify key factors that promote the integrity of the streams, wetlands, forest, and fish in the conservation area; identify and rank the primary threats affecting the overall condition of the forest and freshwater systems; define strategies to address the threats and restoration needs; and create an action plan specific to each strategy, together with a timeline for completion.