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.

What a great native plant sale this year!! Many thanks to everyone who contributed to its success: our staff, board, many community volunteers, our customers, the nurseries we work with, and our host, the Chester Fair. We are so gratified about all the interest shown in CT native plants, including our selection of ecoregional offerings, which are critical to promoting conservation landscaping, helping to address habitat and species loss and enhance biodiversity. We hope to see you back at the sale next year!

What's New

Our January 2024 Conservation Times newsletter has been published. The newsletter features a cover article about the whys and how-tos of streamside buffers, and updates about District projects, activities, events and staff. Click on the newsletter image below to view the newsletter!

Our 32nd CT native plant and plug sale will take place April 26-28, 2023 at the Chester Fairgrounds! The sale is by pre-order only again, with scheduled pick-up times to reduce wait times. This year we are again offering a large selection of shrubs, ground covers, edibles, flowering perennials, ferns, grasses and sedges, including many old favorites! Our ecoregional plants include potted trees—Eastern Red Cedar, Hop-hornbeam, Pitch Pine and Red Oak—and a variety of shrubs, such as American Hazelnut, Buttonbush and Withe-rod Viburnum. We will also have a selection of perennial and grass landscape plugs again sold in 5 or 10-packs. Some of our new plants include Marsh Marigold, White Goldenrod, Zig-Zag Goldenrod, and Wavy Hairgrass. Conifer plugs will not be sold this year due to supply issues.

Orders are due by April 1, 2024.

Order early for the best selection! You can shop in our webstore, download a PDF of our brochure and order form, or phone our office at (860) 346-3282 to receive a hard copy. Some of our plants will only be listed in our webstore, including our landscape plugs, so we encourage you to check our online offerings.

We look forward to seeing you in April at the Chester Fairgrounds! Please contact us with any questions!

We are excited to share our 2023 Annual Report, now available 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!

The rain held off for our 76th annual meeting held at Long Table Farm in Old Lyme on Saturday, November 4, which featured a tour of the farm.  Long Table Farm was the recipient of our Farm Cooperator Award in 2022. Farmers Baylee Drown and Ryan Quinn were excited to welcome us to their farm, where they discussed the many sustainable management practices they have implemented and are planning at the farm, highlighting their climate-smart practices.

Long Table Farm grows seasonal vegetables and fruits on their 4.6-acre plot on Beaver Brook in Lyme, as well as two land trust properties in town. Baylee and Ryan place a high value on natural resource stewardship and manage their farm holistically using ecologically-based practices. Their top priorities are enhancing biodiversity, soil health and structure, and their focus on healthy soils promotes healthy plants, which grow high quality produce. Sustainable practices at the farm include composting and nutrient recycling, and avoiding use of synthetic chemicals to address disease and pest problems, all of which increase the resiliency and sustainability of their farm, and are considered climate-smart.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, including our conservation awardees and guests, friends of the conservation district, board and staff.  In addition, we were excited to re-elect Cary Chadwick, Haddam, for a 3-year term as a regular member, and Paul Stacey, East Hampton, for a 2-year term as an alternate.

Congratulations to our 2023 Conservation Award Winners!

Pictured below (left to right) are Executive Director Jane Brawerman, John Halfinger, State Representative Christine Palm, Bill Milardo, Board Chair Denise Savageau, and Luca, farm dog, who posed for the picture with us! See below for more information about their awards.

Jeanne Davies, CT Resource Conservation and Development, Executive Director (retired), Tom ODell Outstanding District Service Award, for her significant contributions to conservation as Executive Director of CT Resource Conservation & Development, including enhancing the partnership with CT’s Conservation Districts, and strengthening and diversifying the organization’s programs

Halfinger Farms, Higganum, John HalfingerCooperator Award, for the many sustainable practices implemented at the farm in collaboration with NRCS, and efforts as a soil health proponent, both managing the no-till equipment loan program for the Regional Agriculture Council, and hosting educational soil health field days at the farm

State Representative Christine PalmPublic Official Award, for her leadership in building public awareness and support for addressing the serious threat of Hydrilla to the CT River, and in establishing the Office of Aquatic Invasive Species at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Bill Milardo, Durham Health Director & Sanitarian (retired)Certificate of Appreciation, for his invaluable, long-standing support of the Conservation District’s water quality assessment and improvement activities in the Coginchaug River watershed as a member of our stakeholder committee

We were excited to launch our 2023-2024 season of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series in October. Our first film in the series was The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, held at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, Jeanine Basinger Center for Film Studies, Wesleyan University. As always, the film was open to the public and free of charge.

As described on the film’s website, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva tells the remarkable life story of Gandhian eco-activist and agro-ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva, how she stood up to the corporate Goliaths of industrial agriculture, rose to prominence in the food justice movement, and inspired an international crusade for change. Vandana Shiva is described as a modern-day revolutionary, who for forty years has been fighting on behalf of humanity and the ecologically besieged natural systems that support us. But she is opposed by powerful multinational corporations invested in continuing their degenerative but lucrative agricultural practices.

Vandana Shiva’s life story as portrayed in the film was remarkable, and her accomplishments as portrayed in the film focused on seed-saving, protecting the rights of small farmers and food justice, and her fearlessness in standing up to the large companies trying to control our food system were inspiring!

Many thanks to all who attended, and to our film series partners for their contributions to the event. A special thanks to Brian Stewart, Wesleyan Physics and Environmental Studies Professor, who led the post-film discussion and shared his insights and perspective.

Our next film will be The Biggest Little Farm, to be shown at Russell Library on Saturday, January 27 at 2pm. The film, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2020, chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature, and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm. Our Spring 2024 film will be Follow the Drinking Gourd, about the black food justice movement, connecting food, climate and racial justice.

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was begun in 2015. The 2023-2024 series is co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middletown Garden Club, Russell Library, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, College of the Environment, and College of Film and the Moving Image.

The District updated and published a new version of our tri-fold guide, How to Create a Streamside Buffer Garden in April 2023. You can download a PDF of the guide here, or contact our office for hard copies.  The guide is intended to build awareness of streamside buffers as important nature-based solutions that enhance resilience from storms, protect water quality and stream health, and promote biodiversity. This practical guide is one of several the District has produced to promote backyard stewardship of our natural resources. Funding was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency §319 NPS Grant Program administered by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

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!

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)

The Conservation District’s virtual 2020 annual 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://

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.