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New watchdog for Connecticut waters

River and estuary stewardship program will monitor from the Thames River to the R.I. border

River and estuary stewardship program will monitor from the Thames River to the R.I. border

The Southeastern Connecticut River/Estuary Stewardship program was officially launched Earth Day, April 22, during a ceremony at Schooner Wharf in Mystic, Conn.

“SECRES was created to protect, monitor and improve the rivers and estuaries from the Thames River to the Rhode Island border,” says Bruce MacMahon, a retired biology teacher who spearheaded the project. “For 2004 the goals are to monitor the Mystic River and to work in partnership with marinas to promote responsible boating practices.”

Highlights of the ceremony included a launching of a wooden Brockway skiff, Eurdine, built by William Day of Mystic Seaport, and a special reading by poet William Meredith. The skiff will serve as the official SECRES vessel, and will be kept and maintained at Schooner Wharf. Keynote speaker Stephen Jones, professor of coastal studies at the University of Connecticut, will serve as advisor to the program. Jones said the complex jurisdictions of the watershed — which includes harbormasters for Noank Harbor, Mason’s Island and the Mystic River — make it difficult to monitor the quality of the watershed as a whole. “Nature doesn’t work that way,” he said. Nonpoint pollution, DOT hydroseeding of riverbanks and nutrient overload which cause algae blooms are some of the problems that will be addressed. “This is what the organization is about,” said Jones, “knocking the wall down and seeing the river not as a political barrier but more as a commons.”

Some of the program’s objectives are to develop a biweekly publication, work with marinas and local commissions and selectmen, and to establish a parameter database on the health of the watershed. A search is under way for office space, volunteers and contributions.

Contact SECRES, 9 Haley St., Mystic, CT 06355. Phone: (860) 536-3740.

Angie Daughtry is a proofreader at Soundings.