CT Sea Grant

2022 Long Island Sound Research Conference Announced

  • Clean waters and healthy watershed
  • Thriving habitats and abundant wildlife
  • Sustainable and resilient communities
  • Sound science and inclusive management

Deadline for abstract submissions is April 8, 2022. Registration deadline is May 6, 2022.

Download the flier here. Information: syma.ebbin@uconn.edu

Watch for more details!

#DoOneThing theme of 2021 #DontTrashLISound campaign

The Connecticut Sea Grant program, joined by volunteers from Save the Sound, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and other groups, will launch the fifth annual #DontTrashLISound

campaign with a cleanup at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport on Aug. 16.

This year’s campaign, run by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs with support from the Long Island Sound Study, will run through International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 18. It will consist of cleanup events in both states, social media posts and giveaways of “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers for reusable water bottles and travel mugs.

The theme of this year’s campaign, #DoOneThing, encourages people to take at least one action to reduce litter on streets, parks and beaches before it gets carried into waterways and ultimately Long Island Sound. Social media posts will emphasize positive steps people are taking to address the problem.

“Campaigns like this one help keep people aware of the larger marine debris problem affecting Long Island Sound,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant. “They also help people focus on doable actions that we can all undertake with as much or as little effort as we have time to commit.”

For information on cleanup events, visit: https://www.savethesound.org/2021cleanup/

For information on the #DontTrashLISound campaign and how to obtain “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers, email CT Sea Grant Communications Coordinator Judy Benson at: judy.benson@uconn.edu

Teacher Webinar Offered on Long Island Sound Habitats

Sarah Crosby, director of Harbor Watch at Earth Place, collects data on grasses at a salt marsh in Groton in July as part of Connecticut Sea Grant-funded research project.
Sarah Crosby, director of Harbor Watch at Earth Place, collects data on grasses at a salt marsh in Groton in July as part of Connecticut Sea Grant-funded research project. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

A new educational tool for teachers will be showcased in an Aug. 19 webinar sponsored by the Long Island Sound Study national estuary program and its partners Connecticut Sea Grant (CTSG) and New York Sea Grant (NYSG).

Titled “A Spotlight on Long Island Sound Habitats,” the webinar will showcase a Next Generation Science Standards-based StoryMap focused on highlighting habitats within the Long Island Sound watershed and some of the ‘phenomena’ observed or work done in those regions.

This webinar will feature:

  • A walkthrough of the StoryMap by NYSG and CTSG
  • A Q&A panel with expert Long Island Sound researchers and resource managers
  • A break-out session for teachers to explore the resource with each other and exchange ideas about how to incorporate the tool into the classroom

This educator webinar is suitable for anyone interested in learning about LIS habitats and this new educational tool showcasing them for students. Teachers and educators in New York and Connecticut are especially encouraged to join in!

It will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. on Aug. 19 via Zoom. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Register at: https://cornell.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsc-msqzktHNEI–kS11fyDH_5AwjwdDiE

**Certificates of attendance will be provided upon request.**

For more information, contact Diana Payne, CT Sea Grant education coordinator, at: diana.payne@uconn.edu; or Jimena Perez-Viscasillas, N.Y. Sea Grant Long Island Sound outreach coordinator, at:  jbp255@cornell.edu.

Job Openings – CT Sea Grant

Sea Grant logoCT Sea Grant is now accepting applications for the following positions:

  • Regional Aquaculture Liaison Assistant Extension Educator
  • Sustainable and Resilient Communities Assistant Extension Educator

Apply Today!

 

Regional Aquaculture Liaison Assistant Extension Educator

Connecticut Sea Grant, the Department of Extension, College of Agriculture Health and Natural Resources, University of Connecticut, and the NOAA Milford Lab invite applications for a Regional Aquaculture Liaison Assistant Extension Educator. The position is a grant-funded, four-year initiative to enable, augment, and accelerate the exchange of ideas and information between NOAA NEFSC Milford Lab researchers and end users, including the latest research results and tools and how they address existing and emerging needs. The full advertisement, job description and link for applications can be found at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/19063.

Sustainable and Resilient Communities Assistant Extension Educator

Connecticut Sea Grant invites applications for two Sustainable and Resilient Communities Assistant Extension Educators. The positions are part of an initiative to implement a five-year work plan on Sustainable and Resilient Communities, under the umbrella of the Sustainable and Resilient Communities work group of the EPA-funded Long Island Sound Study (LISS). The full advertisement, job description and link for applications can be found at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/19070.  

Gov. Lamont Signs Legislation Supporting Continued Growth of CT’s Shellfish Industry

Gov. Lamont signs the Shellfish Restoration Bill on July 23 as legislators and industry members look on
Gov. Lamont signs the Shellfish Restoration Bill on July 23 as legislators and industry members look on. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant.

Stratford – Gov. Ned Lamont  joined legislators, state officials, agricultural advocates and business representatives on July 23 for a bill signing ceremony near the shore of the Long Island Sound to commemorate the enactment of legislation implementing policies that will support continued growth of Connecticut’s shellfish industry in an effort to increase the populations of oysters along the state’s shoreline and protect the sustainability of this vibrant sector of the economy.

The shellfish industry is a significant sector of the Connecticut shoreline’s economy, generating more than $30 million in sales annually and supporting 300 jobs statewide. There are currently more than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms under cultivation in Connecticut.

The legislation:

  • extends Public Act 490 protections – which were adopted more than 50 years ago and allow landowners to have their qualifying lands classified as farms and thereby subject to reduced property tax rates – to include aquaculture operations;
  • allows more flexibility to actively manage the natural oyster beds in Long Island Sound, ensuring that Connecticut oysters will be available for future generations through better management of the natural beds; and
  • reconstitutes and expands the Connecticut Seafood Council with new membership to drive the industry forward.

It received overwhelming support from business and agriculture organizations across the state, including the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, the Connecticut chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and numerous small business leaders that depend on the sustainability of Connecticut’s aquaculture to support their operations.

Connecticut Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom highlights the program’s collaborative restoration efforts with the Department of Agricultures during the bill signing ceremony.
Connecticut Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom highlights the program’s collaborative restoration efforts with the Department of Agricultures during the bill signing ceremony. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant

“Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in Connecticut, and this legislation continues to move the dial on this industry receiving some of the same protections and support that land farmers receive,” Gov. Lamont said. “My administration will continue focusing on commonsense changes like these that business owners in Connecticut deserve. I look forward to seeing this already great industry continue to grow. Let’s spread the word far and wide, Connecticut has some of the best oysters around.”

“This law ensures that the future for the industry is prosperous and encompassing of all the types of aquaculture industry in our state, including seaweed and indoor production,” Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said. “The law also establishes parity and access to the property tax relief program, Public Act 490, to include aquaculture production, further ingraining this industry as a facet of Connecticut agriculture. Many thanks to the industry, the Connecticut Farm Bureau, and UConn Sea Grant for their partnership and commitment to this proposal and the future of the aquaculture in our state.”

“On behalf of its members and aquaculture farmers, the Connecticut Farm Bureau thanks Gov. Lamont and the legislature for their support of this very important legislation,” Connecticut Farm Bureau President Paul Larson and Executive Director Joan Nichols said in a joint statement. “This legislation provides both financial relief and equity in taxation for aquaculture farmers across Connecticut by expanding Public Act 490 to include aquaculture into the state’s definition of farmland.”

The governor noted that shellfish aquaculture also provides a number of environmental benefits, including by improving sediment quality through the harvesting process, stabilizing sediments and helping to protect the shoreline from erosion, and providing critical ecosystem functions by creating structure and habitat for other species that provide a food source for fish and other marine species.

The legislation is Public Act 21-24An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Shellfish Restoration Program, The Connecticut Seafood Council and the Taxation of Certain Underwater Farmlands.

Updated App, New Rules & Soggy Summer: Time For a Rain Garden

rain garden
Coneflower and blazing star are in bloom in the rain garden behind the baseball field at East Lyme High School.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

July’s wet weather may have dampened plans for beach days and barbeques, but it’s also a reminder of an environmental problem homeowners can help solve in their own yards.

The excess of rainfall—about twice the amount normally seen so far this month—means more stormwater tainted with lawn chemicals, oil and gas residues and other pollutants has been entering our streams, rivers and Long Island Sound. The polluted runoff flows off roads, driveways, roofs and parking lots into storm drains that carry it directly into our waterways, untreated, sometimes resulting in high bacteria counts that recently closed swimming areas at Ocean Beach in New London and Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic for a few days.

“A lot of people think stormwater goes to a treatment facility, but most of it just drains directly into a water body,” said David Dickson, faculty member and extension educator for UConn CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education and Research).  “Runoff is one of the top water quality problems, especially here in Connecticut.”

But it’s also a problem where small-scale efforts with muscle and a shovel can make a big difference. And thanks to a recently updated, user-friendly app and the added motivation of new state requirements for stormwater—set against all the recent rainfall—there’s no better time for individual action than right now.

Dickson and his colleagues at UConn CLEAR are proponents of rain gardens, an elegantly simple, relatively inexpensive solution that can also enhance outdoor spaces for both people and wildlife. This is basically a bowl-shaped area planted with native grasses, shrubs and flowers tolerant of both extreme wet and dry conditions where runoff is channeled and absorbed into the soil, filtering out pollutants along the way.

Over the past four years, more than 45 rain gardens have been installed at schools, town halls, museums and other public spaces throughout New London and Windham counties, led by the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District. Judy Rondeau, assistant director of the ECCD, quickly ticked off some examples: gardens at East Lyme High School, the Mystic Art Association, Whalen’s Wharf in Stonington, the Groton Social Services Building and the Lebanon Historical Society among them, all collecting runoff from adjacent roofs and pavement.

Sue Augustyniak built this rain garden on the property of of the William A. Buckingham Memorial as her service project for the Coastal Certificate Program.
Sue Augustyniak built this rain garden on the property of of the William A. Buckingham Memorial as her service project for the Coastal Certificate Program.

One of the newest rain gardens in the region can be found at the William A. Buckingham Memorial in Norwich. It was built by Master Gardener Sue Augustyniak as a service project for the Coastal Certificate program, a joint offering of Connecticut Sea Grant, the UConn Master Gardener Program and the Long Island Sound Study. The garden collects water that had been running off the historic home property onto the road, with pussy willow, sweet pepperbush and other plants gracing the shoulders.

“It’s helping keep the Thames watershed clean,” she said. “It’s a great way to help my own community.”

Rondeau encourages people to visit one of the local gardens.

“Seeing them can give people an immediate understanding of where the water’s coming from,” she said, adding that plans are in the works for another 20 rain gardens over the next year.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get some in this summer, if it ever stops raining,” she joked.

But rain gardens in public places are only part of the solution. Rondeau and Dickson are hoping to spur interest among homeowners to build rain gardens in their own yards. The gardens would not only help solve water issues on their own properties but would also help the cities and towns where they live. Starting this year, all but the most rural towns in the state are required to divert 1% of runoff away from pavement and out of storm drains each year.

“A very easy way to do that is to push rain gardens,” said Rondeau. “It’s a way individual homeowners can make a bit of a difference and beautify a corner at the same time. But even if you don’t like gardening, you can just put in a grass garden. It functions the same.”

So how do you build a rain garden?

David Dickson spots a skipper butterfly and several bees pollinating on the flowers in the rain garden at East Lyme High School on July 12.
David Dickson spots a skipper butterfly and several bees pollinating on the flowers in the rain garden at East Lyme High School on July 12.

That’s where the newly refurbished rain garden app, co-created by Dickson and his CLEAR colleague Michael Dietz, comes in. Launched nine years ago with funding from Connecticut Sea Grant, the updated app is now a web-based tool usable on mobile phones, desktop computers and everything in between. It gives step-by-step guidance on choosing a site, calculating the size, testing the soil, choosing plants and digging the hole the right way to the right depth.

“Especially with some of the heavy, flashy rains we’ve been getting, it’s important to divert as much of that water as possible,” said Rondeau. “It will relieve stress on the storm drain system and direct the water to where it will infiltrate into the soil.”

The free rain garden app can be found at: https://nemo.uconn.edu/tools/app/raingarden.htm.

Judy Benson is the communications coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. 

New Haven artist chosen for 2021 CTSG Arts Support Award

Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski
Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

Beachcombing with his wife and two children led New Haven artist Joseph Smolinski to the source of inspiration and raw materials for works he will create for Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2021 Arts Support Award Program that reflect on the human impacts of climate change.

His project, titled “Carbon Adrift: Sea Coal in the Long Island Sound” was chosen for the annual arts award program now in its 12th year. It awards $1,000 annually to artists to create works relevant to coastal and marine environments and Connecticut Sea Grant themes and who are expected to display their works widely.

“The older I get, the more I realize that creativity comes from things like leisure time, when you’re not trying to make art,” said Smolinski, chairman of the Department of Art and Design at the University of New Haven. “My family spends a lot of time on the shore exploring, and we started finding these dark rocks and I started wondering, ‘Are they natural or anthropogenic?’”

Those dark rocks turned out to be sea coal, both dislodged from coal deposits by natural forces and mined pieces that probably fell off barges and cargo ships.

“At every beach I’ve been to on Long Island Sound I’ve found them, from pieces as small as grains of sand to some as big as a hand, four to five inches across,” said Smolinski.

Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach.
Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

He began reflecting on the processes that transformed plant matter into sea coal over millennium, and the use of coal as a fuel source by modern humans that contributes to climate change now threatening the planet. That evolved into the idea of using sea coal to make art that speaks both to its history in geological time scales, and to the impacts of the rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans. The result will be mosaics of intricately patterned pieces of sea coal fixed to wood panels that Smolinski described as “images of the setting sun over Long Island Sound” that are intended to depict the sun as “the energy source that gives coal its anthropogenic value.”

In a complementary project that will be created for the project titled “Open Water,” Smolinski will use images of sunsets over the open waters of the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean onto which water is sprayed, then various pigments applied. By pairing the monochromatic mosaics with the “highly colorful and energetic nautical renderings” of the seascapes, Smolinski hopes to call attention to the future of the world ocean and its central role in human survival. He also hopes to develop a website for schools and environmental groups with information from his research about sea coal and the works created for his project. The various works will be created over the next year.

The independent review panel for the arts award said Smolinski’s project stood out for its “strong conceptual relationship between humans’ effect on the environment and artwork.” The panel also noted that the work addressed issues of materiality associated with environmental issues, eloquently evoking the transformation of materials such as coal through time.

“The submissions that we receive in response to the Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support Awards program continue to amaze me with their varied aesthetic interpretations of Sea Grant’s mission,” said Syma Ebbin, CT Sea Grant research coordinator. “In addition to the creation of several art pieces, Joseph’s proposal will generate significant research and potentially will yield an educational website, gallery exhibitions, and a series of lectures to provide access to the art and science behind the art to local schools and the diverse communities within Connecticut.”

More information: Judy Benson, CT Sea Grant communications coordinator: judy.benson@uconn.edu; (860) 287-6426

One of the seascapes created for the "Open Water" series by Joseph Smolinski.
One of the seascapes created for the “Open Water” series by Joseph Smolinski. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

CT Sea Grant Post

1st marine economics fellow to focus on natural coastal resources

Ethan Addicott
Ethan Addicott

By Judy Benson

Oversimplified, shoreline beaches are where the sand meets the sea.
Too often, this two-dimensional view has become the foundation of efforts to restore storm and erosion-battered beaches on Long Island Sound and other coastal areas. These projects mainly seek to widen the flat open sand swathe to maintain maximum recreational worth and protect nearby areas from storm and flood damage. Dune grass, beach pea, and the dunes these and other plants inhabit along the shore have largely been left out of the equation.

But thanks to a new marine and coastal economics fellowship created by Connecticut Sea Grant, a Yale University doctoral candidate will spend the next year and a half developing restoration tools that account for the real-world complexity and value of natural and manmade features beyond the sand. The fellowship is funded with $20,000 of the federal funds allocated to CT Sea Grant.

“I’ve been interested in coastal ecosystems since I was young, growing up in Miami,” said Ethan Addicott, 29, who is pursuing his doctorate in environmental and resource economics at Yale and was chosen for the fellowship post. “I’m working to quantify the relationship between healthy dune ecosystems and property values, to enhance the relationship between natural resources and management decision making.”

CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise said Addicott’s project will accomplish the two main goals of the new fellowship. It was created to help train a new generation of students in marine and coastal economics, and to give coastal communities new resources to draw on in making decisions about threatened coastal areas.

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ACE C & A Awards – UConn 2021

We would like to congratulate all of the UConn Extension team members who received awards from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE)! Thank you for your hard work and continued efforts.

All award recipients will be recognized at the ACE virtual conference in June.

 

Rising Star Award

  • Recipient: Stacey Stearns

C & A Awards

  • Gold – Ask UConn Extension – Marketing Campaign – Budget Under $1000

                       Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – What is UConn Extension Video – Electronic Media, Video 5 – Educational Video

                          Team: Stacey Stearns, Mike Zaritheny, Meredith Zaritheny, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Electronic Media, Audio 2 – Podcasts
                    Neva Taylor

 

  • Silver – Annual Extension Impact Sheet – Publishing 5 – Promotional Publications

                         Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez

 

  • Silver – Fall-Winter 2020-21 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Diversity

                          Judy Benson

 

  • Bronze – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Diversity 5 – Electronic Media

                             Neva Taylor

 

  • Bronze – Spring-Summer 2020 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Writing
                      Judy Benson

 

CT trail census logoSea Grant logoExtension word mark

NOAA Live! Webinar: Kelp Farming in Coastal Waters with Anoushka Concepcion and Holly Turner-Moore

Anoushka Concepcion, one of our Extension educators with Connecticut Sea Grant, and Holly Turner-Moore, from the Bridgeport Aquaculture High School, introduce students to Kelp Farming during their presentation in the NOAA Live! Webinar Series.