Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Nature Conservancy funds development of adaptive coastal restoration plan for Stratford Point

This week, Connecticut Audubon Society received a contract from The Nature Conservancy to develop an Adaptive Coastal Habitat Restoration plan for the Stratford Point property, owned by DuPont/Sporting Goods Properties but managed by CAS. All summer CAS Science & Conservation staff and graduate and undergraduate research assistants from Sacred Heart University, Connecticut College and UCONN will be working in the coastal grassland management area on Stratford Point to collect baseline data on the physical structure of the site, its vegetation and the animals that utilize the habitat.

Jennifer Gazerro, a graduate student from Sacred Heart University records plant data
from a sample quadrant at Stratford Point.

In addition, similar surveys will be carried out in comparable reference sites such as Milford Point. These studies will provide a series of benchmarks and other success measures that can be used later to gauge whether habitat management practices at Stratford Point provide the desired results.

Students collect baseline data from established coastal habitats, such as at the CAS Smith-Hubbel
Wildlife Refuge at Milford Point for comparison.

Field work for this project has just begun and will continue throughout the growing season and fall migration. Initial plant surveys revealed three patches of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) in the upland section of Stratford that have really taken off in recent years. This native cactus is included in Connecticut's Endangered and Threatened Species list as a species of Special Concern. Ultimately, our management plan will be tailored to promote the development and management of suitable habitat for conservation concern species like this one. You will undoubtedly hear much more about our findings in the months ahead.

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is a native cactus protected under the CT Endangered
Species Act. It can be locally common in coastal habitats but its distribution is highly fragmented.

Photos copyright Twan Leenders

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