land use

N-Sink Online Tool

A New Way of Looking at Nitrogen Pollution

Extension educators from the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and their partners have developed an online tool that helps land owners and land use decision makers better understand the direct connection between their land and nitrogen (N) pollution in coastal waters.

The tool, called “N-Sink,” is the result of a multi-year collaboration of CLEAR with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and the EPA Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

map with a lot of red areas on it where there is nitrogen pollution
The particle tracking tool (shown here is the lower Pawcatuck River) allows users to click on a point within a watershed and, within seconds, generate its flow path to the coast and get an estimate of how much N (relatively speaking) will be delivered.

Nitrogen (N) pollution is a big threat to water quality, especially in coastal areas like Long Island Sound. Excess nutrients like N can fuel algal blooms that rob the waters of oxygen, directly harm marine life, and damage habitat. As a result, much attention has been paid to N pollution by the scientific community, including the development of many models designed to explore the transport and fate of N in our coastal watersheds. Most of these models focus on N “loadings,” i.e., estimating the amount of N being put into the system from sources like agricultural and lawn practices, septic systems, and atmospheric deposition from acid rain. Thus the focus is on what the total load of N is to the receiving water body, and what the impacts to that water body might be.

N-Sink uses a different approach that shifts the focus to the land within the watershed, rather than the receiving waters. The end result is a series of maps that help to provide specific geographic focus on which areas in the watershed are at the most risk for sending N to the coast (see maps, right). To do this, N-Sink uses particle tracking technology in concert with stream network data that includes information on nitrogen “sinks”—areas in the landscape that help to remove N from the system, like wetlands, riparian areas, lakes, and ponds. Depending on the sinks that it encounters along its journey to the coast, a unit of N could have very different fates, and thus very different impacts on water quality. For instance, a pound of N in one area of the watershed could be transported almost entirely to the coast, while another pound of N, applied just a short distance away, could take a different pathway through the stream network that results in the removal of a significant amount of N via sinks.

“One contribution of N-Sink is that it focuses on critical sink areas like wetlands and riparian corridors, which will hopefully lead to intensified efforts to protect or even restore these areas,”

says Extension Educator Chet Arnold. “Also, since the geographic specificity of N-Sink ties any location in the watershed to its likelihood of contributing N pollution, we think it can be useful both for land use planners when determining future uses, and land owners when discussing management practices on land already in use.”

The CLEAR team has created a state-of-the-art interactive N-Sink application where you can explore the maps for the entire Long Island Sound coast of Connecticut.

Article by Chet Arnold

Happy 50th Year of Earth Day

Earth Day advertising/information

Happy Earth Day!

Earth day is dedicated to raising awareness and support for environmental protection.

This year it is a little different as there are no outdoor events. Luckily, you can still celebrate from home!
Maggi Anstett, one of our UConn CAHNR students, suggests many ways you can demonstrate your support.

Extension in Our Communities

map of UConn Extension program in Connecticut communities using 2019 data

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. Find your community on our map of Extension programs (based on 2019 data) and see how active we are in your city or town. Learn more about our Extension programs.

 

CLEAR Mini-webinar Series

In a small attempt at lessening the pain of social distancing, CLEAR has been hosting a “mini-webinar” series since late March. There are two 30-minute webinars per week, on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. So far, we’ve held 5 and had almost 500 people in attendance. The webinars are also taped and posted on the website.

We have just announced the second wave of webinars, bringing the total to 12 and taking the series through the end of April. And, while our first set was conducted primarily by CLEAR faculty, our second set is comprised of a wide variety of topics from a diverse set of partners.

Folks can check out the series at:

http://clear.uconn.edu/webinars/schedule.htm

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

CEDAS Recognizes Municipalities’ ‘Best Practices Policies’

city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

CEDAS ISSUES ‘BEST PRACTICES IN LAND USE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT’ ACCREDITATION TO TWENTY-FOUR CONNECTICUT COMMUNITIES

The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) is proud to announce that it has certified twenty-four Connecticut cities and towns as exemplifying best practices in land use and economic development. These twenty-four communities subjected themselves to a rigorous application review process that required documentation of their procedures for development projects and consideration of their economic development strategy.

This is CEDAS’s first year accrediting communities. The program, presented by sponsors Eversource and UI, was conceived as a way to recognize communities that are committed to doing economic development and at the same time, to raise the bar for excellence in the entire state. Applications were submitted from across Connecticut, with towns and cities showcasing the policies that create efficient economic development processes, target strategic business growth, and implement planning and zoning practices that thoughtfully plan for future population and community-specific needs. The 2019 application cycle opened in June and concluded on September 15th. The expectation is that other communities will follow their lead and take part in next year’s accreditation process.

This year’s certified communities are the:  Town of Bethel, Town of Bolton, City of Bridgeport, Town of Brookfield, Town of Canton, City of Groton, Town of Ellington, Town of Fairfield, Town of Farmington, City of Hartford, Town of Madison, Town of Manchester, City of Milford, City of New Haven, Town of New Milford, Town of Newtown, Town of North Haven, Town of North Stonington, City of Norwich, Town of Portland, Town of Groton, Town of West Hartford, Town of Windham, and Town of Windsor.

Awards will be presented to communities receiving 2019 ‘Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use Planning’ accreditation at the CEDAS’ Annual Meeting on October 23rd in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This event will celebrate successful applicants, present updates on CEDAS’ activities and growth, and continue the conversation on how ‘Best Practices’ communities can showcase this designation as models for growth and as partners for future investment. To secure tickets please visit www.cedas.org.

“In order for our state to be successful at economic development, we need all levels working together and at the top of their game – local, regional, and state. The communities we are recognizing have shown a commitment to economic development and exemplify that Connecticut is open for business,” said Garrett Sheehan, this year’s President of CEDAS and CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.  This program was never intended to be a competition, but rather a way to raise our collective standards. I strongly encourage all Connecticut communities to adopt these best practices and apply for next year’s certification.”

“This program was an excellent way to recognize the existing efforts of many communities and provide great examples of best practices for others. It was an amazing collaboration and I was pleased to work on the program” said Laura Brown, UConn Extension and CEDAS Board Member.

The Best Practices program was created as a partnership with Eversource, UI, Pullman & Comley, and STV/DPM to present this accreditation as a catalyst for economic development in Connecticut. Collaborating partners include UConn Extension, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.  Connecticut can celebrate in the fact that it has many communities that are committed to economic development and doing it right.  Staff, volunteers, and elected officials spent hours putting together their applications. Officials and volunteers organizing their community’s application also used this process as a chance to review their current policies and plans for business and community growth and as an opportunity to receive recommendations for updates and future improvements.  According to one applicant “We applied because we do have best practices, but the internal and external dialogues don’t recognize that. This designation helps change the dialogue, and gives us direction on improvements.” The Program review committee also identified initiatives and programs that represent model approaches. These existing programs will be organized to create a resource library of examples for other communities looking for successful examples.

More information about the program is available at https://www.cedas.org/Resources/CT-Best-Practices-In-Land-Use-and-Economic-Development/

CEDAS is a non-profit association of economic development professionals. The organization is managed by an all-volunteer board.  CEDAS works closely with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) to foster economic growth in the state. CEDAS focuses networking and training opportunities for its membership.

The Connecticut Economic Development Association congratulates those communities receiving the 2019 ‘Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use’ accreditation and aims to highlight their success and contributions to promoting Connecticut as a home for future business and community growth.

Land Use Academy Advanced Training

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

The Land Use Academy is offering an Advanced Training session on October 26, 2019. Registration at 8:30. Training from 9:00 AM-3:30 PM at the Middlesex County Extension Office in Haddam, CT.  The  topics covered are listed below. Cost is $45 and includes continental breakfast, lunch and course materials. 

Follow the registration link at the bottom to register online or to obtain a registration form.  We hope to see you in October!
Advanced Training
In response to feedback from both professional planners and land use commissioners, we are offering an all-day advanced training covering three topics in-depth.

For more information visit the Academy website.
ADVANCED TRAINING TOPICS COVERED:
  
Bias, Predisposition and Conflicts
Atty Richard Roberts, Halloran and Sage
Implementing and Enforcing Land Use Decisions
Atty Kenneth Slater, Halloran and Sage
Running a Meeting and Making the Decision
Atty Mark Branse, Halloran and Sage
4.5 AICP CM Credits Pending
For More Information click on the Academy link to the left.
 Click the below to register

SLAMM (Sea Level Rise Model) Map Viewer & Webinar

sea level rise map viewerSea Level Affecting Marsh Migration (SLAMM) is a mathematical model developed by NOAA that uses digital elevation data and other information to simulate potential impacts of long-term sea level rise on wetlands and shorelines. CT DEEP recently completed a project to run the SLAMM model for the Connecticut coastline, to better understand how Connecticut’s 21 largest coastal marshes and coastal area roads may respond to sea level rise (SLR).
  
The model results have been turned into a new viewer on CT ECO, and there will be a webinar on October 16 to review the results (see below). 

 

Webinar
Sea Level Rise Affecting Road Flooding & Marsh Migration along the Connecticut Coast 
Wednesday, October 16, 2:00 to 3:00 pm
Get an overview of SLAMM and its results, and a live demo of how to use the Viewer on CT ECO.
Presenters
   –  David Kozak, CT DEEP
   –  Emily Wilson, UConn CLEAR 

STEM Education for Teens, Adults, and Teachers

nrca students in waterThe Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is a group of three linked projects that focus on connecting STEM education for high school students with natural resource conservation at the local level. With over 130 land trusts in the state and each of its 169 municipalities having a Conservation Commission, Connecticut has a long history of local conservation. NRCA provides an assist to these efforts, while educating students and teachers about the science and issues surrounding natural resource protection. The TPL is joined by the foundational NRCA project, the Conservation Ambassador Program (CAP), and the Conservation Training Partnership (CTP). CAP brings high school students from around the state to campus for a week-long intensive field experience at the UConn main campus, from which they return home to partner with a community organization on a conservation project of their own design. CTP moves around the state for two-day training of adult-student teams that teaches them about smart phone mapping applications and their use in conservation. The teams then return and implement a conservation project. Together the three programs have educated 308 participants and resulted in 187 local conservation projects in 105 towns, involving 119 community partner organizations.

Article by Chet Arnold