Tag Archives: WSFR

“User pay – public benefit” funding supports boating and clean water in Connecticut

The Service recently awarded $16.6 million to support recreational boating and clean waters in 21 states. States receive this funding under the Clean Vessel Act to support the construction, maintenance and renovation of sewage disposal facilities – or pumpout stations – for recreational boaters. We had an opportunity recently to talk with Kate Hughes Brown, the state of Connecticut’s CVA and Boating Infrastructure Grants coordinator, about the state’s decision to take the CVA program a step further on Long Island Sound.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection received $1.5 million from the CVA program this year, and $16 million to date. This “user pay, public benefit” funding returns revenue from taxes on boats, engines, motorboat fuel, and fishing equipment by investing it back into resources for boaters.

The state is taking their commitment to recreational boaters and clean water a step further. It recently announced that all recreational pumpout stations in Connecticut now offer free service to boaters. It is the first state to make these services fee-free, and boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts are praising the decision.

Demonstrating boat pump out

Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Kate Hughes Brown says the state wants to “provide the best possible service for boaters by eliminating one more obstacle to having clean and healthy waters for people and for wildlife.”

Big Al on Thames #3

Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Since 1993 the Connecticut DEEP has worked with the Service, marinas, yacht clubs, boatyards, municipalities and non-profit organizations to install 141 pumpout stations and complete more than 525 projects in the state. The CVA funding helps small marine business owners and other local entities serve boaters, and ultimately protect the waters of Long Island Sound.

“This is now part of doing business in Connecticut”, says Brown. “We have people who are dedicated to boating, fishing and swimming in clean water and preserving the marine environment for future generations. Business owners are providing cost share matches to help fund the individual projects.  In this way, they show that they are committed to providing improvements over time, and maintenance of these facilities for a continued successful program.”

Beacon Point Marina 4

Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Brown says to check out the state’s new interactive map, making it easy to locate all pumpout stations in Connecticut.


Cultural connections

What comes to mind when you think of the lands the Service works to conserve? Areas that are rich in cultural history and conserve the nation’s past? Believe it or not, before protecting native plants and wildlife, many Service lands were once areas that have profound connections to black history. A number of national wildlife refuges still conserve these historic areas.

A maroon slave from an 1856 issue of Harper's New Monthly. Credit: Cornell University Library

A maroon slave from an 1856 issue of Harper’s New Monthly. Credit: Cornell University Library

At Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, the swamp served as a place of safety and a route to freedom for escaped slaves. Archaeologist and professor Daniel Sayers initiated a study in 2001 to uncover “maroon” communities in the swamp, which were established by some slaves who hid there. “Maroon” is from the Spanish word cimarron, meaning fugitive or runaway. Different historians estimate that between 2,000 and 50,000 maroons lived in the swamp, originally about 10 times larger than its current 190 square miles.

You can learn more about maroon communities by visiting the Underground Railroad Education Pavilion that has been opened at the refuge. Great Dismal Swamp was also the first refuge named to the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program by the National Park Service in 2003.

The birthplace of Harriet Tubman was in and around an area that is now Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. The refuge plays an important role in the management and protection of the historic landscape that formed the life and experience of the American hero, who risked her life to help many slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

An area that is now in the western section of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, was part of the Whitehall Plantation. At the end of the 1700s, the plantation was owned by a Philadelphia lawyer, Benjamin Chew.  The enslaved members of the Whitehall community engaged in various forms of resistance, which led to a rebellion at Whitehall. The story of the rebellion is richly documented through a series of letters between the Chew family and the slave overseers.

During the 1800s, Bombay Hook Island and its surrounding marshes were located on one of the more significant routes of the Underground Railroad. Fugitives from the Delmarva Peninsula often made their way through the communities of Dover and Smyrna, where slaves were ferried to New Jersey in small boats that were hidden in the Delaware marshes during the day and were rowed out under the cover of darkness.  Recent scholarly research* suggests that the fugitives’ primary point of embarkation for their voyage to New Jersey lay in the marshes between Bombay Hook Island and the mouth of Little Creek.  If that were indeed the case, the location was likely on the eastern shoreline of today’s refuge.

In January 2013, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge acquired 38 acres in Haddam Neck, Connecticut, which includes the homestead of Venture Smith, an African slave who earned freedom for himself, his family and several other black slaves in the late-1700s. In 1798, Venture narrated his life story, noting that he owned over 100 acres of farmland and three houses. Until his death at the age of 77, Venture and his family lived in Haddam Neck, supported by farming, fishing, lumbering, and river commerce.

Journey's End, the homestead of Alexander and Daisy Turner, which Service funds helped to protect.

The only remaining building at Journey’s End, the homestead of Alexander and Daisy Turner, which Service funds helped to protect. Credit: USFWS

The Service also supports preserving black history through other means as well.  With funds authorized by the Endangered Species Act, the Service is helping the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department acquire and preserve “Journey’s End,” the homestead of Alexander and Daisy Turner, a family that came up the Underground Railroad all the way to Vermont. Once acquired, the land will become part of a new wildlife management area.

Preserving cultural history is of great importance on Service lands.  While visiting our lands and national wildlife refuges during black history month and throughout the year, be sure to learn about the cultural history these wild places conserve. To find a national wildlife refuge near you, visit www.fws.gov/refuges.

William J. Switala, The Underground Railroad in Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia.  Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 2004.

Best of 2012: 10) When one plus one can equal three

We’re bringing in the new year with a look back at our milestones for 2012. Check back each day for featured events and activities from across the Northeast!

Biologists working to open 18 miles of Little Sucker Brook in Waddington, N.Y., to reconnect water for fish and other wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program led the project. Credit: USFWS

Biologists working to open 18 miles of Little Sucker Brook in Waddington, N.Y., to reconnect water for fish and other wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program led the project. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a hefty mission – to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. And in our rapidly changing world, there’s no way we could get the job done without your help.

The Service depends on partnerships to conserve the nature of America. Throughout its storied history, the agency has been committed to a collaborative approach to safeguarding landscapes and wildlife. Our strategy is to empower Americans to become citizen conservationists. The more the Service can empower people as stewards of the land, the more effective we can be in our conservation mission.

A number of partnerships were born, cultivated and flourished last year. Here are a few that we celebrated:

Migratory Bird Joint Ventures honored 25 years of partnerships for bird conservation. These cooperative, regional partnerships work to conserve habitat for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people. Joint ventures have become widely accepted as the model for cooperative conservation, as they use state-of-the-art science to ensure that a diversity of habitats is available to sustain migratory bird populations. Of the 22 habitat-based joint ventures, two include parts of the Northeast — the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture and the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. Watch the video.

Snow geese take off from Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Del. Credit: USFWS

Snow geese take off from Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Del. Credit: USFWS

The Pingree family in Maine received one of five national Joint Venture Conservation Champion Awards for private landowners on March 21, 2012. Since their large investments in Maine timberlands in 1820, the Pingree family has become one of the ten largest private landowners in the U.S., owning nearly one million acres of Maine timberland.

In 1993, the family initiated an independent, third-party green-certification of their forestland to the highest international standards. These efforts resulted in the Pingree’s Seven Islands Land Company becoming the world’s largest third-party certified sustainable forest products company.

In 2001, the Pingrees created the world’s largest conservation easement—ten years later, it is still the largest in the U.S. They sold all development rights on more than 760,000 acres—an area larger than the state of Rhode Island—to the New England Forestry Foundation, forever protecting over three percent of Maine’s land base.

The Pingree’s efforts have pioneered cooperative management agreements with the State of Maine and other landowners to protect valuable wildlife habitat such as deeryards, heron rookeries, falcon and eagle nesting sites, unique natural areas for rare and endangered species, and support for forestry and wildlife research projects. Further, their lands have been open to the public for traditional recreational uses.

You can enjoy more hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife-related recreational opportunities than ever before, thanks to 75 years of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. These programs, which celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2012, have made the difference between the survival and abundance of some species and many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today. WSFR also helps increase the number of days and places where you can go afield or on the water to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities.