Connecticut Audbon Society

Federal funds will go toward major conservation and education improvements at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Federal funding will goes towards habitat improvements that will make the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center a better place for birds like this Great Egret to hunto for food. Photo by Patrick J. Lynch.

March 25, 2024—Two environmental improvement projects planned for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme have been awarded funding from the federal government.

The Estuary Center will receive $800,000 to improve bird and wildlife habitat. This includes controlling invasive species, restoring native vegetation, and bolstering the shoreline against rising sea levels. The funding will also allow for creation of a nature trail on the 5-acre sanctuary. The funding was directed by Congress from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Zone Management program. 

In addition to the conservation funding, the Connecticut Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center will also receive $500,000 from the Department of the Interior’s Historic Preservation Fund. This funding is directed by Congress to address climate control and energy efficiency for its historic building in Old Lyme.

The tentative start date for the conservation work is spring 2025.

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is located within the vast and ecologically rich Connecticut River watershed. The area includes NOAA’s new National Estuarine Research Reserve. It is a part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The Lieutenant River provides access to the refuge’s 56-acre Roger Tory Peterson Unit.

“Both projects will be transformative for the center, the community, and for birds and other wildlife,” Joyce Leiz, Connecticut Audubon Society’s executive director, said. “We are grateful to our Connecticut delegation, particularly Congressman Joe Courtney and Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal as well as Representative Rosa DeLauro, for recognizing the conservation and historic value of the projects and for securing the funds.”

The property in Old Lyme serves as an education center offering science-based environmental education programs for children and adults, including classes, after school and vacation programs, summer camp, and workshops and lectures.

Formerly the Bee and Thistle Inn, the 1756  building is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an education center offering science-based environmental education programs for children and adults, including classes, after school and vacation programs, summer camp, and workshops and lectures. The building houses an important collection of original work by Roger Tory Peterson, the noted ornithologist, artist, author and conservationist who lived and worked in Old Lyme.  

“This funding will be used as part of a master plan to renovate the building. The result will be more educational opportunities for more residents of southeastern Connecticut and beyond,” Leiz said. “The conservation project will serve as a model for sustainable land management practices and have ongoing volunteer,  demonstration and educational components for the community.”

The Connecticut Audubon Society, founded in 1898, protects Connecticut’s birds, other wildlife and their habitats through conservation, education, and advocacy. Its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center protects the environment of southeastern Connecticut  with a particular focus on the estuaries and their important ecosystem functions. 

Other centers and programs of Connecticut Audubon are located in Sherman, Milford, Essex, Pomfret, Hampton, Fairfield, and the greater Hartford area. 

 

 

 

 

 

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