Much of the “original habitat” of the Norwalk River Watershed has been altered or destroyed over the past 150 years. Population growth and attendant development, roads, dams, channelization, rip rap, sewer discharges, accidental spills, and nonpoint-source pollution from fertilizers, pesticides, road salt and sand, warming asphalt, and other impacts from human activities have led to the extensive loss and continuing incremental destruction of natural habitats and degradation of water quality. In addition, invasive plants and animal species (e.g., deer) are altering habitats and threatening biological diversity.
To slow this loss of habitat the Norwalk River Watershed Association, cooperating partners, and volunteers are working to implement and promote habitat restoration where possible. “Habitat restoration” means undoing the past, repairing the effects of pollution, and returning a habitat to a self-sustaining ecosystem. Restoration usually doesn’t focus on a single species but strives to replicate the original natural system. The goal is to help rebuild a healthy, functioning system that works much as it did before it was polluted or destroyed.
Restoration or mitigation activities range from the simple to the complex but typically entail some or all of the following measures:
- Baseline assessments and performance standards, set by the state
- Long-term monitoring and conservation plans,
- The reconstruction of physical and hydrologic conditions through engineered activities, often involving heavy equipment,
- The chemical cleanup of toxic substances, by state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Revegetation of an area through native plantings or natural regrowth
Our watershed is lucky to have both long-term monitoring, carried out by Harbor Watch which publishes reports annually, and a Watershed Action Plan, overseen by the Norwalk River Watershed Initiative which guide our work. The role NRWA plays is through the removal of invasive plant species and revegetation of open space with native plants, especially along the banks of waterways. To get involved, check our events page for restoration projects.