Conservation Science
Northeast Region
Connecticut river watershed: Credit: Lamar Gore/USFWS


Connect the Connecticut: A shared strategy for conserving the Connecticut River watershed

Encompassing New England’s largest river system, the Connecticut River watershed provides important habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and plants — from iconic species like bald eagle and black bear to federally threatened and endangered species like shortnose sturgeon, piping plover, and dwarf wedgemussel. For the millions of people living in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, the watershed is a source of clean water, recreation, food, jobs, and more. As the defining geography for the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, it is part of a national network of areas considered to have special significance for conservation.

The core team of partners behind the Connect the Connecticut project.
Credit: Bridget Macdonald/USFWS

Thanks to strong partnerships and pioneering research, the watershed region is also the perfect geography to pioneer an innovative approach to large-scale conservation: landscape conservation design.

Facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and supported by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), the Connect the Connecticut landscape conservation design project is a collaborative effort to identify a network of lands and waters that partners agree are the best starting places for conservation 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 wellbeing of communities.

Visit the Connect the Connecticut website to learn how resource managers, planners, and others can use data and tools from this effort in complement with their own information to prioritize conservation actions and achieve meaningful and measurable results.

Last updated: March 22, 2017