DEEP acquires bird habitat in Mystic

A 34-acre parcel of shrubland habitat along the Mystic River is one of three parcels acquired by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grant, DEEP announced today.

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is partners with DEEP in the Mystic River project, DEEP said in a news release. The grant also provides funds for management of the habitat. Protection of the parcel will protect the state-listed brown thrasher, yellow breasted chat, and many other shrubland birds, 80 percent of which are declining in Connecticut. It is one of the last undeveloped areas along the river, DEEP said.

The $985,000 grant also paid for the acquisition of coastal salt marsh parcels in Milford and Branford that provide critical habitat for migratory birds. Upland areas in both areas will allow for marsh migration inland as sea levels rise, DEEP said. Partners with DEEP in this project are Ducks Unlimited, the Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, the town of Tolland, the town of Branford and the Branford land trust. Together the three parcels total 82 acres.

"The DEEP proposal competed with 34 other meaningful and important wetland projects across North America, and was chosen as one of 21 funded projects in the current grant cycle," said Susan Whalen, DEEP deputy commissioner.

The areas and immediate offshore environments provide habitat for up to 20 percent of Connecticut's wintering waterfowl populations, DEEP said. The project will enable restoration work at Silver Sands State Park in Milford to increase interior tidal flow in the marsh habitat, control invasive phragmites, restore native vegetation and mosquito control.

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