The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has purchased a 38-acre portion of the Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company property in Haddam Neck. The parcel will become part of the Salmon River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
The addition of this tract brings the refuge’s Salmon River Division to 416 acres and is the fifth acquisition since the division was established in 2009.
"The investment of this property in the conservation estate as a part of the Silvio O. Conte Refuge is a tremendous accomplishment given its location along the Salmon River and outstanding value to wildlife and people,” said Andrew French, project leader of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. “This outcome is a fitting tribute to the collaborative efforts among the Service, our state partners, Connecticut Yankee, Friends of the Salmon River, elected officials, community leaders, and residents. This is a great way to start the new year and I hope a preview of additional conservation accomplishments in this area."
Extensive beds of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Salmon River Division provide significant overwintering, spawning, and feeding habitat for a large number of fish species, including commercial finfish and shellfish. Additionally, Salmon Cove’s freshwater tidal wetlands, flats, and adjacent intact forest provide migratory birds and shorebirds with sources of food, water, and shelter and serve as bald eagle winter roost and perch sites.
"Connecticut Yankee welcomed the opportunity offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add this unique portion of our property to the Conte National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut" says Wayne Norton, Connecticut Yankee's President and CEO. "The success of this land transaction is due to the cooperative efforts of the Service and grassroots organizations in the Haddam community and to the fact that this separately acquired parcel of land adjacent to the original plant property was never associated with site-related operations, nor needed for spent fuel storage operations.”
“This is a very important step in the long standing and ongoing effort to preserve the wilderness which makes up the lower Salmon River Watershed and the lower Haddam Neck peninsula,” says James McHutchison, spokesman for Connecticut Yankee Conservation Project, “conservationists both near and far, Haddam Neck residents and the critters are all celebrating.”
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed that stretches across four states. It is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed. The refuge works to protect land, form partnerships with citizens to foster conservation efforts, educate the public, and pass on the importance of the watershed to future generations.
A local preservation group heralded the purchase as a boon for land preservation efforts in the area.
"We've been able to knock off properties here and there in the valley, but this is the first one on the actual property," James McHutchison, spokesman for the Connecticut Yankee Conservation Project, told the Hartford Courant. "We are absolutely delighted with this. And it's a milestone, but only that. The work continues."
The group was formed three years