Connecticut River Coastal
Conservation District

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.

The CT River Coastal Conservation District is hiring a full time Natural Resource Specialist! See more information below, including a link to the job announcement.

What's New

The Conservation District is looking for a full time Natural Resource Specialist to assist communities in protecting natural resources throughout the 26 municipalities in our area. Responsibilities range from designing conservation projects, to physical work in the field, to developing and presenting educational programs. You can view the full job announcement here.

Our 2023 native plant sale was another resounding success!! Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this effort to support and promote use of native plants in the landscape: our customers, volunteers, Board members and staff, and our nurseries for the beautiful plants they grow. It’s gratifying to have so many native plant lovers participate in the sale, and also that so many people are willing to devote their time to help make this major event possible. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s sale!

Our 2023 newsletter has been published! Click on the newsletter image to view the newsletter, and read about the important conservation benefits of trees in our cover article, get updates on programs and projects, and read about past and upcoming activities and events.

Have you seen our Coginchaug River water quality story map? This interactive web-based map summarizes ten years of water quality information for the Coginchaug River and tributary streams from 2012-2022, collected with the assistance of community volunteers participating in the Conservation District’s citizen water quality monitoring program, the CT River Watch Program. It was updated recently with our 2022 E.coli bacteria results. You can view the map at

In addition to graphic displays of bacteria results, the story map includes interesting river facts, info about ongoing water quality improvement efforts, and actions that individuals, municipalities and farms can take to protect water quality.

Funded in part by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation in 2015, this project is part of an effort to make water quality data accessible, and build public awareness about Coginchaug River health. While we have made progress identifying and addressing pollution sources in the Coginchaug River watershed, the river is still considered impaired due to high levels of bacteria. Contact our office with any questions at or 860-346-3282!

It was a beautiful day for our annual meeting in Old Saybrook and our trip to the shore to learn about the Fenwick Living Shoreline on Saturday November 5. Many thanks to everyone who attended, including our conservation awardees and guests, friends of the conservation district, board and staff, and our guest program leader, Juliana Barrett. Many thanks also to the Town of Old Saybrook for hosting us at the Saybrook Point Pavilion, and to Marilyn Ozols, Fenwick Land Use Administrator, who assisted with meeting planning and logistics.

In addition, we were excited to elect a new board member, Robert Alvarado, a New Britain resident and Engineering Technician with the town of Rocky Hill, and re-elect Pat Young, a Marlborough resident and Program Director for watershed groups in the Salmon and Eightmile rivers.

Congratulations to our 2022 Conservation Award Winners!

Pictured below (left to right) are Executive Director Jane Brawerman, Baylee Drown & Ryan Quinn (Long Table Farm), Suzanne Thompson, Janice Ehlemeyer & John Halfinger (Regional Agriculture Council), Walter Smith, and Board Chair Denise Savageau. Missing from the photo is Kayleigh Royston. See below for more information about their awards.

Walter Smith – Tom ODell Outstanding District Service Award, for many significant contributions to conservation over his 48-year career, both professionally and as a volunteer, including service to CRCCD as a board member and Chair at a critical juncture for our organization, and on the staff and board of the CT Council on Soil and Water Conservation

Long Table Farm, Baylee Drown & Ryan Quinn – Cooperator Award, for sustainable growing practices focused on enhancing biodiversity and soil health, for collaborating with NRCS to implement conservation practices to protect natural resources, and for supporting the community through soup kitchen donations and a share scholarship program

Kayleigh Royston, CT Department of Agriculture – Environmental Professional, for elevating the importance of soil health in CT, including significant contributions to passage of soil-health related legislation; securing funding to implement climate-smart agricultural practices; and supporting the work of the soil and water conservation districts

Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments Regional Agriculture Council – Organization Award, for efforts to support and promote agriculture regionally; coordinate an important collaborative multi-town forum; and provide a collective voice for farmers through the Agriculture Council, the first of its kind in CT

Suzanne Thompson, Nix the Knotweed – Special Merit Award, for extraordinary efforts to “Nix the Knotweed” by engaging community volunteers in controlling invasive knotweed locally in Old Lyme and surrounding towns; and more widely, to promote your 3-step, 3-year organic control process to knock back knotweed, reintroduce native plants, and reestablish natural ecosystems

Click on images below for larger view!

Click on the newsletter image to view our 2022 newsletter, and learn about ecoregional plants in our cover article, get updates on programs and projects, and read about activities and events.

We are excited to share our 2022 Annual Report, now available for viewing on our website here.  Just click on the link to download a PDF. We hope you enjoy the report, and please contact our office with any questions!

We concluded our 2021-2022 season of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series with an April screening of the film Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home.  The event was a big success, with about 50 people in attendance and a great post-film discussion. It was a perfect way to end this year’s film series.

The film highlights a variety of stories of community commitment to conservation landscaping demonstrating how humans and nature can co-exist with mutual benefits, as well as stressing the importance of incorporating native plants in the landscape to support habitat for wildlife. Renowned entomologist, Dr. Douglas Tallamy, is featured in the film. He is the author of several books, including his most recent, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

Many thanks to all who attended, and to our film series partners for their contributions to the event. A special thank you to our excellent panelists, Tom Christopher, Aubree Keurajian and Jane Harris, for sharing their varied insights and perspectives about the film, and helping to expand on the film’s message about the importance of planting locally native plants for pollinators and other wildlife to help address habitat and species loss. We hope it provided inspiration for some conservation landscaping projects and lawn conversions.

We look forward to next year’s film series, which we hope will be back to our usual schedule of four films, two during the fall semester, and two in the spring!

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015. The series is co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College, Middletown Garden Club, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, College of the Environment, and College of Film and the Moving Image. 

Are you interested in volunteering to help with local land use planning?

Would you like to learn about town inland wetlands agencies and what being a member involves?

Join the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District and Attorney Janet Brooks for this two-part workshop series, which covers legal and technical topics such as the functions and values of wetlands; the CT Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act; elements of a site plan and site plan review; and what to look for on a site walk.

Workshop sessions began in February and have taken place virtually on multiple dates and times, including weeknights, and Saturday morning and afternoon (see upcoming times below). The workshops have been well-received to date.

Presenters include Janet Brooks, an experienced wetland attorney, and Kelly Starr, Natural Resource Specialist with the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District. There will also be cameo appearances by town wetland staff and members of town inland wetlands agencies!

Future two-day sessions will take place as follows. Sign up on the day of your choice:

Thursday, 4/8 & 4/15, 7-9pm
Wednesday, 5/12 & 5/19, 7-9pm

For more information, including how to register, please contact, or

The series is funded in part by a generous grant from The Rockfall Foundation, and in-kind donations from Janet Brooks and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District 2020 virtual 73rd annual meeting held November 19 went off without a hitch! Thank you to everyone who joined us.

At the meeting we re-elected two board members, Walter Smith (Old Saybrook) and Riley Doherty (Haddam), and elected three new members. We are excited to welcome Stephanie Russell (East Hampton), Andrea Peres (Old Lyme) and Cary Chadwick (Higganum) to the Board of Directors, and look forward to their input and participation.

Though we were sorry we couldn’t have our usual fun meeting in the field, highlighting our work on a project or just visiting or touring an interesting place, we were glad to be able to at least meet virtually in the midst of the pandemic.

Executive Director Jane Brawerman provided an overview of the 2019-2020 year, prefacing her comments by saying that it has certainly been an unusual and interesting year, one of best laid plans gone undone, and one requiring quite a bit of resilience and adaptation.  Despite the complications presented by COVID-19, we have been able to accomplish quite a lot, though not necessarily according to our plans.  A big Thank You to our staff and board for helping navigate through this challenging time.

Our 2020 conservation awards were presented in a virtual ceremony at the meeting. Congratulations to our award winners! They include:

▪ TOM ODELL OUTSTANDING DISTRICT SERVICE AWARD, presented to Jim Costello, CRCCD, in recognition of his dedication and many contributions to the District over fourteen years of service as a member and Secretary of the Board of Directors, and representative to the CT Resource Conservation & Development Council

▪ ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT AWARD, presented to Greg Bugbee & Summer Stebbins, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, in recognition of their efforts to document hydrilla and other invasives as part of the Invasive Aquatic Vegetation Survey of the CT River

▪ SPECIAL MERIT AWARD, presented to Rosemary Ostfeld, Healthy PlanEat, in recognition of her efforts to support local sustainable farms, connect farmers with customers, and help promote and sell their products through Healthy PlanEat

▪ CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION, presented to Sandy Weiss, CRCCD, in recognition of her efforts to seamlessly maintain District office operations, manage the extra work resulting from cancelling the plant sale, and support the rest of the staff remotely during the pandemic

The meeting featured an excellent presentation about the Connecticut River aquatic invasive plant survey undertaken by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), given by Greg Bugbee and Summer Stebbins.  Aquatic invasive plants are a major concern in the Connecticut River from an ecological, recreational and economic perspective. Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), a relative newcomer in the state, forms dense stands that crowd out native vegetation, harm fisheries, limit recreation, impede navigation and reduce property values.

Greg and Summer’s presentation covered recent efforts to document Hydrilla in the river by the CAES Invasive Aquatic Plant Program, and the plans going forward to address it.  Managing the fast spreading Hydrilla presents some difficult challenges that will require a variety of management measures, and a great deal of funding.  For more information, you can view the recording of the presentation and Q&A here. http://

Copies of the fourth edition of Invasive Plants In Your Backyard! A Guide to Their Identification and Control are available now.

You may be familiar with our guide to identifying and controlling invasive plants, which was first published in 2009 and developed and updated with assistance from the CT Invasive Plant Working Group. We have distributed ~23,000 copies of the guide and have very few copies left. This 2020 expanded edition now includes 22 plants that are considered a concern in CT. The four new plants recommended for inclusion in the guide by the invasive plant working group are Lesser celandine; Glossy buckthorn; Princess tree; and Privets.

This practical, easy-to-use 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!  The guide provides detailed identification and control information on the most common backyard invasives, along with recommendations for native alternatives.

Please contact our office if you are interested in obtaining copies.  Download a PDF copy of the guide here (25.6 MB)

It is with sadness that we share the news that our long term Board member and friend, Tom ODell, passed away on July 28, 2018. Tom was an integral and significant part of the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District over the 44 years he participated on the Board of Directors, the past 30 as Chairman. Tom led us through many challenges, changes and transitions, and contributed at the statewide level benefiting all five of CT’s conservation districts. We are very grateful for his dedication to the Conservation District, his leadership, all that he contributed to the organization over the many years, and his unwavering commitment to local conservation. Tom was also active in CT’s conservation community through many other local and regional organizations. His legacy will live on in the many open spaces he worked tirelessly to protect, his work to protect water quality and other natural resources, and his efforts to engage young people in conservation. In honor of Tom, we have renamed our District Long Term Service conservation award after him.

Tom’s obituary was published in The Hartford Courant on August 29, 2018.

Read about recent projects, the invasive CT River Hydrilla, our cover article– Farming, the Demand for Local Food, and the Future of Food Security–and more in our 2021 edition of Conservation Times.