Connect the Connecticut is a partnership effort to create a landscape conservation design for the Connecticut River watershed that provides a roadmap for identifying the best starting places for conservation — areas that partners agree should be priorities in order to ensure that important species, habitats, and natural processes will be sustained into the future, even in the face of climate and land-use change.Using an innovative modeling approach developed by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the best available regional science from the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (North Atlantic LCC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a team of more than 30 partners from state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations spent more than a year outlining a network of core areas — intact, connected, and resilient places within the watershed that provide the foundation for the landscape conservation design. The final product includes a variety of datasets and tools people from all sectors can use to make more informed decisions about managing lands and waters that provide habitat for wildlife, and support local economies and the overall health and well-being of communities.
In order to address shared goals and objectives for protecting species and ecosystems, the partners prioritized locations that contain high quality habitat for a set of 15 fish and wildlife species — including American woodcock, black bear, and Eastern brook trout — in delineating the network of core areas. The partnership identified these species to represent others that rely on similar habitats within the major types of natural systems in the watershed — from spruce-fir forests to small streams to freshwater marshes. Setting specific objectives for each of these species ensures that enough high quality habitat is included in the design, and that it reflects the needs of a range of fish and wildlife. Other key components of the core areas include high quality, resilient locations of both rare and common ecosystem types throughout the watershed, from Long Island Sound to the peaks of the White Mountains.
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