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Aquatic Environments

Dam Removal and Fish Passage Project

Save the Sound and their ecological restoration team have undertaken a dam removal and fish passageway project across Connecticut, aiming to remove old, unused, and dangerous manmade infrastructure, allowing nature to function in its original, more natural state. Some project sites also include planting native vegetation. In cases where dam removal is not possible, special fishways are built. This benefits the environment by allowing fish to migrate and reach their native spawning grounds, securing and enhancing the food chain of the Long Island Sound. Additionally, it restores fragmented habitat for aquatic wildlife, decreases erosion, and stores more carbon dioxide.

The dams help address climate change issues by improving water quality and decreasing flooding risk. However, the costs of dam removal can be high, requiring special equipment. While some argue that the costs outweigh the benefits, removing dams that impede wildlife habitat and pose threats to nearby communities is a great method for nature to take charge and protect ecosystems and people from climate change.

Milford/Walnut Beach Dune Restoration

The nature-based solutions project in Milford at Walnut Beach focuses on dune restoration, a living shoreline approach that protects the coastline from storm impacts by improving the dunes' ecosystem. Invasive species, such as Japanese Knotweed, honeysuckle, Black Locust, Mugwort, and Oriental Bittersweet, were removed and replaced with native vegetation. The project benefits the community through engagement, as scientists, students, and volunteers practice environmental stewardship and learn about restoration as a nature-based solution to climate change. It increases the coastal community's resilience to frequent storms and positively impacts the environment by allowing native species to thrive and providing proper habitats for wildlife. The project received $7,830 from the Municipal Resilience Grant program.

Although initially successful, the process is long and involves constant monitoring and maintenance. Additionally, invasive species removal typically requires the use of chemicals and herbicides, which can be harmful to humans and wildlife.



Sustainable Agriculture

DEEP Watershed Project

The DEEP Watershed Program, created by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is a crucial initiative in Connecticut, focusing on protecting freshwater resources and preventing future damage. The program involves clean-up initiatives, where local organizations and volunteers work to clean up water pollutants, plastic, and debris. These projects aim to prevent future damage to watersheds and ensure the preservation of these resources.

The DEEP Watershed Program is vital for protecting local communities and the environment, as freshwater resources are declining and generating saltwater into freshwater costs a significant amount of energy. It also allows smaller communities to work on projects they can be passionate about. However, implementing the DEEP program requires significant community effort, as it relies heavily on volunteers and organizations, which can be difficult to find. Additionally, the projects are expensive due to the need for supplies and equipment to clean watersheds, run tests, and set up preventative safety measures.

In conclusion, the DEEP Watershed Program is an effective way to combat climate change, but it will require significant time and effort to implement across the United States. Despite these challenges, the program is an amazing way to clean up and restore damage to local watersheds, ensuring their continued protection and protection.



Urban Spaces

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are shallow depressions in landscaping design that may include plants and ground cover. Like the previous urban space examples, rain gardens are primarily designed to provide pollution treatment through adsorption and decomposition, and protect communities from flooding and drainage issues. Some of the benefits of rain gardens outside of mitigating drainage issues include enhanced curb appeal and some plant designs attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. For municipalities within Connecticut, they also may reduce the cost of stormwater treatment structures.

As with all drainage systems, rain gardens require proper maintenance in order to prevent clogging, flooding, and runoff accumulation. Furthermore, improper design may lead to erosion. Nonetheless, as with all of the drainage variations covered, rain gardens offer an effective nature-based solution to climate change.

Permeable Paves

Similar to bioswales, permeable pavers absorb water into the soil preventing it from accumulating on the surface pavement. These pavers have wider, more open joints than traditional pavers allowing any moisture from rainfall to be absorbed into the base of the paver and flows into the soil. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (n.d.), this solution benefits the local ecosystem by establishing a more natural hydrologic balance and by reducing the concentration of some pollutants that generally harm surrounding plants. As for Connecticut, particularly in the winter months, this option reduces snow and ice refreezing on surface pavements.

Although this is a good option for both commercial and residential areas, the drawbacks include increased initial costs versus traditional pavers. Additionally, the pavers must be vacuumed 2-4 times per year to avoid clogging.



Sustainable Forestry

Big River Chestnuts Farm

Jono Neiger practices agroforestry at Big River Chestnuts Farm in New England, situated alongside the Connecticut River in Sunderland, Massachusetts. He uses alley cropping to allow trees to thrive alongside crops and explores opportunities for riparian buffers, planting perennials that can survive for two years or more. This practice aims to grow the chestnut industry in New England, which currently contributes to only 1% of worldwide chestnut production. Chestnut trees are resistant to droughts and can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Growing chestnuts improves soil quality and increases carbon absorption by the forest.

Agroforestry preserves ecosystems, maintains biodiversity, and allows for erosion control. It also offers nutritional value as chestnuts are high in carbohydrates, Vitamin C, B6, and copper, but low in fats, making them ideal for consumption. It also enables cities to be more resistant to natural disasters and increases market value for regions near rivers.

However, the farm's location near a river may affect the crops due to fluctuations in moisture and temperature. Chestnuts require at least 100 days of frost to harvest and well-soaked soils. Agroforestry requires patience as trees grow more slowly, and the crops may take time to adjust to their diverse environment.

Despite these challenges, agroforestry is effective for climate change by preventing deforestation, reducing carbon sinks, and fostering a stronger crop by providing necessary nutrients. Additionally, agroforestry builds resilience in crops, which is crucial for dealing with climate change effects and changing weather patterns.

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