UConn CLEAR

UConn CLEAR Webinars in May

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Experimenting with Climate-Adaptive Forestry Practices: Challenges and Opportunities
Christopher Riely, Sweet Birch Consulting, LLC
Following a brief overview of general forest climate adaptation strategies, this talk will present one experimental project begun in Scituate, Rhode Island, in 2015, when Mr. Riely helped manage 13,000 acres of forestland buffering the reservoirs for Rhode Island’s largest water utility. Site work included planting both native tree seedlings and non-native species projected to be adapted to future climate conditions, such as shortleaf pine and sweetgum. To assess deer impacts on one site, half the seedlings were planted inside a large exclosure fence. While foresters monitor early results, the project has provided significant educational value through engaging public audiences and a professional community of practice. This webinar is the 3rd of the series Finding the Right Trees for the Right Time, sponsored by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

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WEDNESDAY, May 19, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Building Capacity for Conservation: Engaging Local Teens
Nicole Friedenfelds and Amy Cabaniss, Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA), UConn Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment
Have a great idea for a conservation project in your community or land trust, but not sure you have the staff power, technical know-how, or energy to carry it out? Wouldn’t it be great to connect with local youth in that effort? Tune in to this webinar to learn how the UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is engaging high school students in wildlife monitoring, water quality, promoting pollinators, outdoor recreation, and other environmental projects in communities throughout Connecticut. NRCA faculty will share insights on ways to build capacity for your organization through youth engagement. Through this webinar, you’ll learn about tangible projects that can help address local environmental needs and hear directly from teen and adult participants about their experiences in UConn NRCA programs and the community actions they carried out.

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WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Introducing Connecticut Trail Finder
Kimberly Bradley, UConn Department of Extension and Trails Program Coordinator, PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) Team
The State of Connecticut has a vast number of open space and outdoor recreational opportunities, however information for trail users can be inconsistent, inaccurate, and difficult to find. The Connecticut Trail Finder, currently in development through UConn Extension, will be a free, interactive mapping website designed to help Connecticut residents and visitors explore trail and outdoor recreation opportunities, trailside services, and events across the state. Connecticut Trail Finder will compile trail manager approved trails with the goals of becoming the primary trails data source for the State of Connecticut and connecting users with trail management organizations and resources. This webinar will provide an overview of the resource to trail users, exploring the current and developing features of the website, and provide information for trail and land managers on how you can add your trail systems to the Connecticut Trail Finder.  The Connecticut Trail Finder is funded through generous support from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.

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CLEAR Webinars In April

aerial view of Connecticut River and agricultural fieldsWEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Chet Arnold, UConn Dept. of Extension & CLEAR
Qian Lei-Parent, UConn Dept of Extension & CLEAR
Land use planners, property owners, and watershed managers need all the help that they can get to reduce the impacts of nitrogen (N) pollution on waterways, particularly in coastal areas. CLEAR, URI and EPA have developed an online tool, N-Sink, that provides some of this help. N-Sink identifies areas within a watershed that are likely to contribute N to coastal waters, and other areas that are likely to remove N from the system before it gets to the coast. The tool now covers all of the coastal watersheds of Connecticut and Rhode Island. This 30-minute webinar will describe the workings behind the tool, demonstrate the new N-Sink web app, and initiate a discussion on ways that the information might be used.
city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

WEDNESDAY, April 28, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension
Sadie Colcord, Associate Director of Partnerships, AdvanceCT
Kristen Gorski, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of West Hartford, and President, CT Economic Development Association (CEDAS)
Many communities struggle to find a comfortable balance between the desires of the business community, the desires of residents, and the requirements of existing zoning regulations and regulatory processes. In this session, the presenters will offer suggestions for finding this balance by exploring topics including: the role of economic development in the local land-use regulatory process; what companies are really looking for in a community; ensuring your community is ready for a desired development project; why and how to say no to a development proposal; and how to strike the right balance between zoning enforcement (which sometimes means saying no to business) while simultaneously encouraging the right kind of projects for your community. Attendees will learn about the Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development Program, created by the Connecticut Economic Development Association and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and how to utilize the program as a tool for balancing economic development and planning.

CLEAR Webinar: The NEMO Rain Garden App – Reborn!

CLEAR mini webinar seriesWEDNESDAY, March 24, 2021 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Dave Dickson, UConn Extension and CLEAR
Nearly eight years ago, CLEAR’s NEMO program first launched an app to help homeowners, landscapers, developers, and municipalities properly site, size, install, and maintain a rain garden to help protect their water resources. The app has since expanded to include state-specific rain garden sizing and plant information for 25 states. Now, the app has received a new update that will allow it to work on ANY device with a web browser – PC, tablet, iPhone, or even an Android phone! This webinar will cover how the app works, how you can access it, and how you can use it for public outreach.

Click here to register.

Making Maple Syrup in Your Own Back Yard CLEAR Webinar

maple syrup
Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

As winter winds down, and you’re considering outdoor, low-risk activities, making a small batch of maple syrup at home with your family might be a fun and healthy choice. This webinar will provide all the essential information you’ll need to get started, from identifying which of your trees might be sugar maples, to tapping, boiling and finishing the sweet product for use on your favorite pancake recipe. Extension Forester Tom Worthley will take you through the process and share some tricks he has learned.

Join our webinar on Wednesday, March 3rd at 1 PM to learn more.

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

 

UConn CLEAR Webinars in February

Registration is open for all three February webinars!

CLEAR mini webinar series
Wednesday, February 10, 1:00 – 1:30 PM
Long Island Sound Report Card: Grading the Urban Sea
Peter Linderoth, Save the Sound
What is this map telling us? Join Peter Linderoth from Save the Sound as he discusses the latest release of the Long Island Sound Report Card. The Report Card grades the ecological health of the open waters of the Sound in addition to numerous embayments. Peter will present an overview of the water quality data sources, grading process, and then dive into the grades and general findings.
Wednesday, February 17, 1:00 – 1:30 PM
Using the New CT Zoning Atlas to Envision CT’s Transit-Oriented Development Potential
Sara Bronin, UConn Law School & Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEAR
In January,Desegregate CT, a coalition of over 60 organizations focused on land use and zoning reform, released its groundbreaking interactive map, the Connecticut Zoning Atlas. This first-in-the-nation planning tool allows the public to easily explore zoning regulations that govern housing in each of the state’s 2,618 zoning districts and two subdivision districts without having to sift through and decode thousands of pages of written code. This webinar will focus on one particular aspect of the Zoning Atlas: the areas within a half-mile of train stations and CT fastrak stations. It will start with a broad overview of Desegregate CT and its platform as it relates to TOD, and it will show how you can use the Atlas to assess how your community already permits TOD. The webinar will conclude with some information about the Desegregate CT’s TOD proposals and how they have worked in other states, including neighboring Massachusetts.
Wednesday, February 24, 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Why Connecticut Needs GIS Coordination
Emily Wilson, UConn CLEAR
Learn about how GIS is done in Connecticut, how we compare to our New England neighbors, and what might be done to make GIS operations more efficient and effective.

As seas rise, communities can turn retreat into opportunity

Kristin Walker, project engineer for the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, explains how the former home site is now being planted with native species to create a flood plain habitat.
Kristin Walker, project engineer for the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, explains on Oct. 22 how the former home site is now being planted with native species to create a flood plain habitat.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

Retreat isn’t defeat.

It’s deliberately stepping back to make a better future.

“Retreat is very difficult, but it’s going to happen,” said A.R. Siders, assistant professor in the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. “Wouldn’t it be better to have a managed process? It can be an opportunity to do something more exciting than elevating a few houses, and there are resources available.”

A national expert and keynote speaker at the “Managed Retreat in the Age of Climate Change” virtual workshop on Nov. 13, Siders challenged the audience of about 130 municipal and state land-use officials and others to rethink notions of what’s possible. Rising seas and more frequent flooding of coastal and riverine areas means getting people out of harm’s way is necessary, she said. But can also be a chance to improve our waterfronts for everyone.

Siders said she began focusing on how retreat can be done in an orderly, methodical way—rather than as a haphazard reaction to a disaster—after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. It’s the better alternative to the other options: avoidance, fortifying shorelines with concrete or accommodating rising seas by elevating properties, she said.

To begin the hard conversation with communities, Siders urged land use professionals to pose it as challenge to realize a positive vision for the future: “What do you want your city or community or coast to look like in 30 years? 100 years?

“I don’t want to see a coast that’s armored with sea walls, but I would love to see open beaches all the way from Maine to Texas, so everyone can access them. It won’t happen if we don’t plan for retreat,” she said.

The workshop was the latest in a series hosted by the Climate Adaptation Academy, a partnership of Connecticut Sea Grant and The Center for Land Use Education & Research (UConn CLEAR). Juliana Barrett, CT Sea Grant coastal habitat specialist, and fellow organizer Bruce Hyde, extension educator with CLEAR, emphasized that this workshop is considered the first in a series on managed retreat that will delve into this complex and important issue.

“We see this as just getting the conversation going,” said Barrett.

Hyde set the stage for the presentations with a story and slides from Connecticut’s past. After the 1938 hurricane destroyed a beachfront community in New London, the city acquired the property, razed what remained of the homes and turned it into a large public beach. Today Ocean Beach Park is one of the city’s jewels.

“This is an example of using managed retreat 60 years ago and it has been very successful,” he said.

Siders also noted that there have been more recent examples of successful managed retreat projects across the country, including 12 in Connecticut. Most of these have been small scale, however. At the same time, though, new homes are still being built in vulnerable areas. In Connecticut alone, she said, 478 new homes were built from 2010 to 2017 in a 10-year flood plain.

In the second half of her talk, Siders outlined the multiple issues that arise and kinds of expertise needed to carry out managed retreat. Planners must be mindful of income equity issues—not favoring high income over low income properties, for example—the layers of regulatory and financial considerations/ Also critical, she said, is keeping the process transparent and communication lines open between residents and government. Offering financial incentives, help with finding new homes and working through nonprofit groups to build trust are some of the strategies that might be used, she said.

After Siders, Attorney Marjorie Shansky addressed the legal issues of managed retreat. “Can we adapt policies and regulations to promote managed retreat?” she asked.

These could include mechanisms that favor living shorelines over shoreline hardening, enacting stricter coastal setbacks and buffers and limiting and prohibiting coastal development altogether. She noted that the Florida Keys will no longer issue new building permits after 2023.

Starting the discussion about reimaging a local coastline where people aren’t constantly in a futile fight with rising waters is a good first step, she said. But communities need to start doing more.

“We must move from planning to action,” Shansky said.

Two examples of that kind of action offered inspiration for what can be accomplished. In downtown Meriden, a $13 million project funded by various state and federal agencies has transformed a blighted, flood-prone area into a municipal park. Public Works Director Howard Weissberg, City Engineer Brian Ennis and Assistant Planning Director Paul Dickson took turns describing various aspects of what one of them described as “a flood control site first, a park second, and an economic development parcel third.”

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Meet Will Carta: CLEAR Intern

Will CartaMy name is Will Carta and I am interning with CLEAR through UConn CAHNR Extension. I am going to be a senior at UConn and I am majoring in Natural Resources with a concentration in Water Resources and Climate. Before transferring to UConn I spent two and a half years at Manchester Community College. I love fitness, fishing, and playing basketball with friends whenever I get the chance. I am currently working on updating CLEAR’s “State of Low Impact Development in Connecticut“ story map. Many of the links to various regulations throughout this story map are out of date, which I am in the process of updating. I have found that many of the towns that did not have a specific document for their Stormwater Management Plan when the story map was first created, now have one. This is great to see because it shows that more and more towns in Connecticut are acknowledging the importance of Stormwater Management as well as Low Impact Development and putting out regulations to deal with it. Along with the LID Story map, I will also be working on updating UConn’s Virtual Green Stormwater Infrastructure Campus Tour. This virtual tour highlights the University’s leadership role in addressing the impacts of stormwater runoff on water quality.

Learn more about the State of Low Impact Development in Connecticut at http://s.uconn.edu/stateoflid and the Virtual Green Stormwater Infrastructure Campus Tour at http://s.uconn.edu/gsitour

Environmental Conditions Online

Your One Stop Shop for Maps and Geographic Information cteco.uconn.edu

CT ECO website on a computer screenTechnology has expanded the mapping world. No longer are maps static and flat. They are now interactive, zoom able and clickable. They allow focus on a location or a question and enable us to explore our backyard, town, state and world.

The Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online (CT ECO) website has become the de facto place in Connecticut to access statewide interactive maps. Anyone can browse natural resource layers, aerial imagery, elevation and more. In 2019, over 30,000 people explored Connecticut by visiting CT ECO, which is a partnership between Extension faculty from the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Because not all (or probably even most) of those 30,000 people are Geographic Information System (GIS) experts, CT ECO is designed to meet the needs of visitors with varying levels of technical expertise. Alongside all of the maps is an extensive amount of complementary information in the form of Data Guides, Help documents and How-to explanations.

The simplest map access is through the Map Catalog, that contains over 9000 pdf maps that cover every town in Connecticut. These same maps can be purchased at the CT DEEP store in Hartford.

There are currently 12 interactive Map Viewers on CT ECO and the list is growing. Popular Viewers include the Simple and Advanced Map Viewers, both of which contain a long list of map layers mostly maintained by CT DEEP. The Elevation Viewer hosts the state’s elevation information in the form of highly detailed ground topography including elevation values as well as hillshade, slope, aspect and 1-foot contours. Also incredibly useful is the Aerial imagery Viewer that contains 12 statewide sets of aerial imagery between 1990 and 2019 along with six coastal and regional datasets.

Project-based viewers are topically focused. The Long Island Sound Blue Plan Viewer is one of the most recent, providing access to the long list of data layers that are part of the Long Island Sound Blue Plan. Other Viewers include Sea Level Rise and Coastal Road Flooding Viewer, the Aquaculture Mapping Atlas, the CT MS4 Viewer that focuses on stormwater and the DEEP Inland Waters Fish Community Data Viewer.

Finally, mapping professionals and enthusiasts can connect to CT ECO map and image “services” within their desktop or online GIS. The Map and Image Services page lists the over 100 available services.

Users, Uses, and Benefits

Responses to a survey conducted regarding the value of CT ECO revealed the breadth of users. They come from private business, state agencies (like Department of Transportation, Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Safety and Public Protection, Department of Labor, CT DEEP and even the Office of Film, TV & Digital Media), regional and local government, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, utilities, citizens and more.

CT ECO is also used by hikers, landscape architects, land trusts and metal detectorist clubs (who knew?). The wide audience reflects the broad uses of CT ECO, such as preparing site assessments, permit applications and permit review, engineering projects, traffic plans, wetlands applications like identifying vernal pools, review of site conditions, identifying zoning violations, locating addresses, habitat suitability models, trail maps, forestry, coastal resilience, mining archaeology, appraisals, school projects and more.

It is difficult to put a dollar value on the services provided by CT ECO. Certainly having a central, statewide repository for mapping data, limited as it might be, reduces redundancy and increases efficiency. Many respondents from the survey report saving significant amounts of both money and time. Several users estimate saving over $100,000, with others stating that the time saved is “immeasurable.”

A State of Connecticut GIS professional said, “CT ECO has become the default location for accessing GIS data within the State of Connecticut. The work that the CT ECO staff has done to provide this data to the public has been nothing short of extraordinary.” It is exciting that UConn Extension is filling the critical need for so many different users and uses of Connecticut’s geospatial information.

Article by Emily Wilson

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