National Fishing and Boating Week: We go together like restoration and recreation

This weekend wraps up National Fishing and Boating week, an annual week-long celebration that reminds us to get outside, say goodbye to stress and hello to quality time with friends and family.

Some of my fondest family memories revolve around fishing and boating, from reeling in a sunfish the size of my palm at the pond with my grandfather, to struggling with a 27-inch red drum in the Pamlico sound.

Many broke out their rods, baited a hook, and enjoyed some of the events this week had to offer such as free fishing days – where you can fish without a license – kid’s fishing derbies, and how-to demonstrations.

Across the region, public access to recreational boating and fishing is increasing. Thanks to efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies and other partners, more boat ramps, fishing platforms, trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities are cropping up.

How’s that exactly? I’ll walk you through some interesting examples—where projects were funded by parties responsible for polluting natural resources. These projects come at no cost to the taxpayer.

When hazardous substances such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are released into the environment, they can cause injury to fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. The Department of Interior and state, tribal, and federal partners act as “trustees” for these resources. Under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, Trustees recover damages from responsible parties and then plan and implement projects to restore natural resources.

Projects focus on restoring injured natural resources and the public’s ability to enjoy those natural resources. These projects do as much for people as they do for wildlife and fish by restoring important habitat, improving water quality, revitalizing native plant species, and more. Some species that have benefited from these projects include the Roanoke logperch and bog turtle.

Check out these exciting projects from across the region:

Young’s Field Park River Trail, New Milford, CT

To compensate for PCBs released into the Housatonic River, a variety of restoration efforts are underway within the watershed. The trustees and the Town of New Milford worked together to revitalize a roadside along the Housatonic River by removing parking areas, planting native vegetation, restoring riparian areas, and constructing a new trail, fishing platform, and boat launch.

Community partners like the New Milford River Trail Organization helped to make this project a reality. The inaugural celebration of the new Young’s Field Riverwalk is planned for Saturday, June 17, from 3-5 pm. A formal dedication by Mayor David Gronbach will be accompanied by a parade, paddling flotilla, fishing demonstrations and much more!

Riverine Habitat Restoration along the Salmon Kill, Salisbury, CT

This project, designed and implemented by partner Trout Unlimited, improved cold water fisheries habitat in the Salmon Kill watershed. By engaging landowners and locals alike, the restoration of this site has enhanced conservation and enhanced the recreational fishery in Salisbury.

Fish habitat has been improved by riparian restoration, native plantings, stream bank stabilization and more.

North Fork Roanoke River Restoration – Blacksburg Country Club, Blacksburg, VA

Completed in 2015, though monitored on an ongoing basis, the North Fork Roanoke River projects restored a half mile of river and two riverside acres (i.e., riparian buffer zone). Check out how much the riverfront has improved. The Blacksburg Country Club continues to add value to this restoration.

This area will serve as important habitat for Roanoke logperch, a fish that was impacted by the contamination at this site.

Beacon Falls Access Project Beacon Falls, CT

The expansion and improvement of the Riverbend Park along the Naugatuck River was completed in April as part of the Housatonic River restoration effort. The park was expanded by three acres, including 1,000 feet of riverfront, and other enhancements include 2,200 feet of walkways, low impact lighting and a new boat ramp.

Halfway River Fishing Access Site, Newtown, CT

Partners from the Trust for Public Land and the Housatonic River Trustees aided the town in completing this project. This 13-acre site includes a scenic trail that winds through the forest and rocky outcrops, and provides access to the Halfway River, a pristine trout stream that feeds into the Housatonic River.

Click here for more information.

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