Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Inc.

Middletown office:
deKoven House Community Center
27 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Phone: 860-346-3282
Fax: 860-346-3284

Welcome to Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District
soil and water conservation since 1946

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is
to promote the sound use and management of natural resources in our 26-town area.

The District provides technical assistance and education in:

♦ soil and water conservation
♦ erosion and sedimentation control
♦ stormwater management
♦ watershed protection

 Our programs and services are provided to:   

♦ municipal staff and land use commissioners
♦ private residents
♦ agricultural producers
♦ the public
♦ the development community 

The Connecticut River Watch Program, a citizen monitoring program for the Connecticut River and tributaries, is one of the District's flagship programs.

The District receives financial support from municipal contributions, the State of Connecticut, an
annual native plant sale, state, federal and private grants, and private contributions.


 What's New
CRCCD 67th Annual Meeting to be held at Urban Oaks Farm in New Britain

We invite you to join us on Saturday, October 26, 2014 for our 67th annual meeting at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain. Urban Oaks is the first urban farm of its kind in the nation. Begun in 1999, this 3.5 acre nonprofit certified organic farm now works to nourish the local communities and greater CT with high-quality produce accessible to all; provide education and employment opportunities; and showcase economically viable, progressive, organic farming methods that promote and provide sustainable, ecologically sound agriculture in an urban environment. Urban Oaks grows an impressive variety of heirloom and specialty vegetables and fruits, including award-winning salad greens, for area restaurants, caterers, schools and the local community. Education programs highlight organic gardening methods, composting and other sustainable practices, and provide hands-on learning and job opportunities for neighborhood children to promote a connection to the land. Come see for yourself how a blighted inner city area was transformed into an urban oasis!

A talk and farm tour will be led by Mike Kandefer, Urban Oaks Founder and Farm Manager. The program will begin with a brief business meeting. We will also celebrate our Conservation Award winners, and have time for refreshments and conversation. For more information, see the annual meeting flyer (download PDF flyer). Please RSVP to 860.346.3282 or 


10th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting our Biggest Ever!

Our 10th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program was held on August 26, 2014, a beautiful late summer evening. We had our biggest crowd ever on board, and had to turn away a long list of others who wanted to join the fun. A great time was had by all, with excellent food, wine, scenery and an amazing show put on by the swallows. We are grateful to our sponsors who made the cruise possible, including CT River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, R2 Graphics and Clinton Nurseries. Our sincere thanks also to everyone who joined us and supported our efforts to engage citizens in river monitoring programs.


Organic Lawn Care at Home

The District and Middletown's Project Green Lawn partners hosted a program for homeowners in early June focused on maintaining safe and healthy yards, just in time for summer outdoor fun! Many people don't realize that traditional lawn care methods can use dangerous chemicals that are very harmful to people, pets and our environment.  The program was held at Russell Library in Middetown. Matt Carroll, co-owner of Jessica's Garden in Marlborough, CT, taught us the steps to having beautiful, healthy lawns that are safe to play on. Topics covered included the benefits of soil testing, aeration, and re-seeding, as well as organic methods of dealing with weeds and fertilizing, along with recommended products. We are planning for another lawn care program in the fall, so stay tuned!


Earth Week Plant Sale a Big Success!

Spring was slow in coming this year, but that didn't stop the numerous avid gardners who took advantage of our exciting and varied offerings and supported the sale. Our annual plant sale, held April 25-27, 2014 at the Old Saybrook Shopping Center was a great success, with one of the largest numbers of advance orders ever, and some hot new items selling out way in advance of the order deadline! Thank you to all of our customers, repeat and new, for buying plants in support of our conservation, environmental education and technical assistance programs!!! For those of you missed the sale, you can start planning ahead for next year.  Check out this year's extensive selection of native plants, including shrubs, ground covers, evergreen tree seedlings, grasses, ferns, flowering perennials, edibles, pollinator plants, rain garden plants, and plants suitable for waterside buffer planting at "Plant Info/Photos". 

If you have questions or would like to be placed on our mailing list for next year, contact the District office at 860-346-3282, or We hope to see you at the sale next year!


Technical Assistance Available for Horse Owners

Given that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year and uses 3 tons of bedding material, managing horse waste properly is essential to prevent environmental impacts. As part of a program funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, the District has been providing technical assistance to horse owners free of charge. While the grant project is now completed, the District will continue to offer this assistance.

If you have a horse operation, or just a few backyard horses, and would like to learn more about management practices to protect water quality and available technical and financial assistance, please contact our office! We will be happy to schedule and on-farm assessment to identify  management concerns, recommend improvements, and advise on how to get help with planning and implementation. Assistance is available to anyone in our 26-town area: Berlin, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Hebron, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Marlborough, Middlefield, Middletown, New Britain, Newington, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Rocky Hill, Salem and Westbrook. 


District Newsletter Features Article on Waterside Buffers

In case you haven't seen our January 2014 edition of Conservation Times, you can view a copy here (link to PDF newsletter). In addition to a cover article on the "Whats, Whys and Hows of Waterside Buffers," you will find updates on our Coginchaug Watershed assessment and conservation projects, horse farm assessments, and Miner Brook stormwater retrofit project, among other activities. 


Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed: The Lake Hayward Demonstration Buffer

Last spring, the District collaborated with the Eighmtile River Wild & Scenic Watershed to establish a buffer on Lake Hayward in East Haddam with the help of the Lake Hayward Association and Landscape Designer, Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes. The buffer is part of a project to promote use of vegetated buffers along streams, lakes and ponds to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality throughout the Eightmile River Watershed, funded in part by The Rockfall Foundation. In addition to the Lake Hayward demonstration buffer, this multi-component project consists of a Buffer in a Bag, a packet of trees, shrubs and flowering perennials suited for areas that might get flooded periodically, offered at the District's annual plant sale in 2012 and 2013. The project also includes education and outreach about the benefits of waterside vegetated buffers and information about how to create them. A poster, Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed (link to PDF poster), has been developed to place in town halls, libraries, as well as several outdoor areas (e.g. the Lake Hayward pavillion and Devil's Hopyard State Park kiosk); and an on-site educational program will be held in spring 2014 at Lake Hayward.

For more information, including photos and a planting plan, check out, and

Before planting the buffer the area was all turf

Lake Hayward Association volunteers assisted with the planting under the direction of Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes

One of the three segments of the buffer several months after planting


2013 Annual Report Published

We are pleased to announce that the District's 2013 Annual Report is now available. Click on the image below to link to a PDF of the report.


District's 66th Annual Meeting Celebrates State Park Centennial at Devil's Hopyard

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of CT's State Parks, our 66th annual meeting was held at Devil's Hopyard State Park on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Participants heard about this past year's conservation highlights; helped honor our Conservation Award winners; and enjoyed a talk and guided walk led by Alison Guinness, District board member, birder, naturalist, historian and friend of Connecticut state parks. One of the earlier properties to become part of our state park system, Devil's Hopyard was acquired by the former State Park and Forest Commission in 1919. The park features the dramatic Chapman Falls--where the Eightmile River drops more than 60 feet over a series of steps--and its unusual pothole formations, thought by some to be the work of the devil. Alison's fun and information-packed presentation covered the park's history, geology, flora and fauna, and the lore behind its name. She even told a few spooky tales to usher in the Halloween season.

Congratulations to our Conservation Award winners, including Environmental Professional, Steve Gephard, DEEP Fisheries Biologist; Cooperator, Urban Oaks Organic Farm, Mike Kandefer; Special Merit Award winner, Jenifer Nadeau, UConn Equine Extension Specialist; and Special Merit Award winner Kathy Connolly, Landscape Designer, Speaking of Landscapes. See the 2013 Conservation Award list (link to list) for a complete listing and additional information. Thanks to all who joined us for a fun fall adventure!


Coginchaug Water Quality Monitoring Informs Restoration Work

Water quality investigations in the Coginchaug River Watershed continued this past summer to follow up on 2012 monitoring results as part of ongoing efforts to identify and address sources of bacteria. The monitoring data will be used in planning future assessment and improvement activities, supporting implementation of the comprehensive watershed management plan completed in 2008. Monitoring activities were conducted with the help of volunteers as part of the District's Connecticut River Watch Program, following a plan developed with input from members of the Coginchaug River Watershed-based Plan Implementation Committee. Goals of the water quality study are to locate areas and specific sites contributing to bacterial loading in the Coginchaug, and to build public awareness of water quality issues and human impacts on rivers.

This year's study consisted of a broad survey and a more intensive survey. The broad survey included tributary sites where high bacteria levels were documented in 2012; new sites to bracket potential sources; several main stem Coginchaug River sites; and sites along tributary streams where management practices are being implemented to monitor water quality improvements. Samples were collected every week mid-July through early September.  The intensive survey was conducted on a stream where bacteria levels have been consistently high over the years. This sampling was done by staff at multiple sites, both during wet and dry conditions. All samples were being analyzed for E.coli bacteria at the State Department of Public Health Lab free of charge through a cooperative arrangement with the towns. Data are being analyzed and a summary will be posted here soon! For more information, contact Jane Brawerman or Kelly Starr at the District office.


Clean Water Paddle Draws Enthusiastic Group of Boaters

The joint Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District paddle on the Mattabesset and Connecticut Rivers on August 10, 2013 was a great success. We had a big turnout and a fun morning on the river, not to mention incredibly beautiful weather. Everyone was excited about the opportunity to participate in the group paddle, and the feedback afterward was all very positive. We started in Cromwell at the Mattabesset River Canoe/Kayak Trail launch, and took out at Harbor Park in Middletown. After getting organized and shuttling cars and people back and forth to the takeout spot, everyone heard from Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC's CT River Steward in Connecticut, and CRCCD Executive Director, Jane Brawerman about each organization's--and the state's--efforts to keep our rivers clean and build awareness about water quality issues.

On the river, we had a impressive flotilla of about 20 boats. As we paddled down the Mattabesset River through Cromwell Meadows, sightings included an adult and an immature bald eagle; a great blue heron; black ducks and lots of ducklings; black crested cormorants; a kingfisher; an eastern kingbird; barn swallows; and lots of painted turtles. There were also many beautiful fields of cardinal flowers, and large stands of wild rice. It is a truly special spot--an amazingly peaceful and ecologically rich refuge, not far from a busy commercial area and several major roads. If you've never had the chance to enjoy it, you should definitely go for a paddle there! Thanks to CRWC for inviting us to partner with them on the Clean Water Paddle, and The Rockfall Foundation for the grant funding that provided boats for a number of participants.



Copies of Invasive Plant Guide Available

Copies of our popular invasives guide are now available again, thanks to funding from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area (RC&D)!! This guide was developed to help landowners identify and control non-native invasive plants in their yards. Invasive plants thrive outside their natural range, threatening the health of our native plant and animal communities. Controlling invasives is a challenge, but the benefits are great!  Download a PDF of the guide (1.3 MB), or contact us for hard copies. (link to PDF guide)


Updated Backyard Water Resources Guide Available

The second edition of our popular guide, The Backyard Water Resources Guide: A Guide to the Stewardship and Protection of Backyard Wetlands, Ponds, Streams, Lakes, Rivers and Estuaries, is published, thanks to generous support from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area!  Copies are available in our office, or you can view the guide here (link to PDF guide).


Rain Recycling with Rain Barrels

Learn about the benefits and how-tos of rain barrels from this new brochure published by the Conservation District (link to PDF brochure)! 


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