U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wildlife and habitat survey projects

USACE Thomaston Dam flood control project

Army Corps of Engineers' Thomaston Dam flood control project. These flood control project sites protect large areas of important willdife habitat.

In 2008 Connecticut Audubon Society was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out wildlife studies, non-native invasive plant assessments and to provide habitat management recommendations for five of their flood control projects in the Naugatuck River Basin. Although flood control is the primary function of these project sites, many are multi-use areas where passive recreation is allowed and all protect significant acreage of high quality wildlife habitat. A sixth project site, Colebrook River Lake, was contracted to the Society in 2010 after completion of work at the other five sites and surveys are ongoing.

 

A variety of habitat types exist in the different project sites and each can be host to very different species. The biological function of different habitats varies seasonally and can benefit different species at different times of the year. Therefore Science and Conservation staff carried out monthly surveys in each project site for the duration of one year to allow focus on specific species groups at the appropriate time of year.

Connecticut Audubon Society uses a habitat-based approach to management and conservation rather than a species-based approach but we use a set of biological indicator species (Conservation Priority species identified in our 2009 Connecticut State of the Birds report) to guide habitat protection and management.

Throughout a year of surveys, the following topics are addressed for each project site:

  • Inventory of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species
  • Identification of important habitat types and natural communities
  • Identification of all federal and state listed species (Endangered Species Act) and Species of Greatest Conservation Need (Connecticut’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy)
  • Identification of other species of conservation concern
  • Vernal pool assessment
  • Screening of local amphibian populations for presence of fungal pathogen (Bd)
  • Breeding Bird Survey
  • Inventory of non-native invasive plant species
  • Evaluation of seasonal changes in site habitat and resource use

All information is combined into habitat management recommendations which are included in each project site’s master plan. The master plan is revisited every five years to evaluate the outcome of management practices.

Red-shouldered Hawk-0035 - by Twan Leenders

Red-shouldered Hawks are regular breeders in the forested wetlands located in USACE project sites

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project sites surveyed by Connecticut Audubon Society:

  • Black Rock Lake, Thomaston, CT – 173 acres
  • Northfield Brook Lake, Thomaston, CT – 67 acres
  • Hop Brook Lake, Middlebury, CT –  516 acres
  • Thomaston Dam, Thomaston, CT – 849 acres
  • Hancock Brook Lake, Plymouth, CT – 721 acres
  • Colebrook River Lake, Riverton, CT & Sandisfield, MA – 388 acres

All photographs © Twan Leenders

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