What’s in a Blueway?
Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the region’s largest river system, the 410-mile-long Connecticut River, as the first National Blueway on May 24, 2012. The program recognizes diverse partnerships that support outdoor recreation and local and regional conservation of natural resources.
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge conserves native plants, animals and their habitats throughout the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The refuge has worked to reach communities throughout the watershed through partnerships and innovative visitor programs. Visitor contact points and exhibits describing the watershed and its resources are available at the Springfield Science Museum in Massachusetts and at the Cabela’s Connecticut River Museum Room in East Hartford, Conn. These “Conte Corners” are designed to show how public and private landowners, and the people that use and enjoy the Connecticut River watershed can all contribute to the refuge’s goals of conserving plants, fish and wildlife for people to learn from and enjoy.
A 1.2 mile long wheelchair accessible and interpretive nature trail is being built by Student Conservation Association employees, Youth Conservation Corps enrollees, and volunteers using excess lumber donated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The lumber will also be used to provide access to other land and water trails within the watershed.
The 410-mile Connecticut River Water Trail is also moving forward. River access is envisioned every 10 miles with overnight accommodations, ranging from campsites to bed and breakfast inns every five miles.
The refuge also works to bring the watershed to you. Schools, fairs, summer camps and events in rural and urban areas may soon be receiving a visit from the Watershed on Wheels or the Wow Express. The travelling interactive education exhibit is a partnership between the refuge and the Natural Resource Conservation Service that lets people experience plants and animals from habitats found in the watershed.
The 396 communities within the Connecticut River watershed are important to help accomplish the mission of protecting native species. Through partnerships and outreach, we can work together to maintain a healthy watershed that people and wildlife can enjoy.