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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Understanding and protecting our estuaries

    It has been rightly observed that knowledge is power. This includes the power to be forewarned, to prepare, to protect, and to share that knowledge with others.

    This is why it is exciting to hear that Connecticut will soon receive its first National Estuarine Research Reserve designation and it is right here — in the case of some folks, literally — in our backyard.

    Once in place, the research-reserve designation will make it easier for research institutes to tap federal grants. The resulting growing knowledge will provide information on how to better protect estuaries, to project how they will be affected by climate change and rising sea levels, to identify invasive species and prepare strategies to counter them, and to better understand how human-produced contaminants affect these environments.

    Estuaries are the places where fresh water meets the salty ocean. The realization of their vital importance to many species, to providing ecological balance, and prevent erosion only grows with the research about them.

    The application to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s estuarine reserve program is a joint effort of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut’s Marine Sciences Department operating out of the Avery Point Campus in Groton, and Connecticut Sea Grant. Official designation is expected early next year.

    The public is urged to support the designation during a virtual public hearing on Oct. 7 or through the public commenting option that extends to Oct. 18. For information visit bit.ly/ctdeepnerr.

    Included in the research reserve would be many familiar locations, including Bluff Point, Avery Point, and Haley Farm State Park in Groton, and the Roger Tory Peterson National Area Preserve in Old Lyme. The 50,000-acre area includes eastern Long Island Sound from Mason’s Island west to the mouth of the Connecticut River, including the lower Thames River.

    In a nod to the reality of industrial development, it will not include the areas of the Thames River near Electric Boat or Millstone Power Station on the Waterford-East Lyme border.

    Not incidentally, the research reserve designation also includes an educational and informational element to help us all learn more about estuaries and why it is so important to protect them.

    The Day editorial board meets with political, business and community leaders to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Timothy Dwyer, Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larraneta, Owen Poole, copy editor, and Lisa McGinley, retired deputy managing editor. The board operates independently from The Day newsroom.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.