NOAA proposes National Estuarine Research Reserve in Connecticut

Public asked to weigh in on management of special place in Long Island Sound

A view of the marshes and beach at Bluff Point, Connecticut in October 2018. This location is included within the proposal for the new addition to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
A view of the marshes and beach at Bluff Point, Connecticut in October 2018. This location is included within the proposal for the new addition to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. (Kevin O’Brien/CTNERR via flickr, CC by-NC 2.0)

NOAA and the State of Connecticut are asking for public comment on a proposal to designate a national estuarine research reserve in Long Island Sound. Estuarine reserves protect a section of an estuary and provide a living laboratory to explore and understand important areas where rivers meet the sea, thus promoting understanding and informed management of coastal habitats. If designated, this estuarine reserve in the southeastern part of the Constitution State would become the 30th such reserve in the national estuarine reserve system and the first in Connecticut.

“This proposal for an estuarine reserve in Connecticut demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to conservation and addressing the impacts of climate change,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Protecting our special places and making them accessible for future generations improves our planet, our people, and our economy.”

Within the boundaries of an estuarine reserve, communities and scientists work together to address natural resource management issues, such as nonpoint source pollution, habitat restoration, and invasive species, on a local scale. Estuarine reserves contribute to the national effort to make the coasts more resilient to natural and human-made changes. Our nation gained its most recent estuarine reserve in January 2017, when the state of Hawaii designated the only reserve in the Pacific Islands

“Partnerships are what make the estuarine reserve system successful,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “Each reserve brings together local stakeholders, scientists, land management professionals, and educators to understand coastal management issues and generate local, integrated solutions, while leveraging nation-wide programs.”

NOAA and the State of Connecticut will jointly hold two public hearings via webinar on October 7 to solicit public input on the draft environmental impact statement and draft management plan for the Connecticut estuarine reserve. Additionally, the comment period remains open through October 18, 2021. Connecticut, in collaboration with NOAA, then plans to prepare the final environmental impact statement and final management plan. Thereafter, NOAA plans to prepare designation findings and a record of decision. If the designation process follows its anticipated timeline, the estuarine reserve could be designated as early as January 2022. 

Media contact

Jennie Lyons, NOAA, jennie.lyons@noaa.gov, 202-603-9372