[CT Birds] Decisions on Silver Sands announced by DEEP
Kathy Van Der Aue
kathyvda at gmail.com
Fri Dec 16 15:06:31 EST 2016
A public hearing was held September 24th in Milford to discuss the changes
planned for Silver Sands State Park. I testified at this hearing on behalf
of COA. The main focus of that testimony was to voice objections by many
birders to the paving of the overflow parking lots (known as the "Sparrow
Lanes"). The final plans have just been released and *they have heard us
and will not pave*. They will, however, regrade to alleviate drainage
problems, which will of course cause great disturbance. Once the drainage
problems have been addressed, the site will be allowed to regrow naturally
and DEEP will plant additional native bird friendly plants. See below for
the answers to some of the issues raised by birders at the hearing. For the
full text of all the public concerns, click on the link.
Overflow parking area should be left in current state to maximize
attractiveness to birds
We have heard these concerns and have redesigned the project to only
minimally reconfigure the overflow parking areas to achieve that goal.
Furthermore, plans to pave the overflow parking area (some commenters
referred to as the ‘Sparrow Lanes’) have been eliminated so that this area
will principally remain natural sand and grasses.
Support Great Creek improvements
Improvements to Great Creek were not initially included in this project,
but now improvements have been included in the final project design.
As background, the State Parks Division proposed a plan to mitigate the
potential adverse habitat impacts of the new “short-cut” boardwalk at
Silver Sands by creating new wetland habitat in the northern section of
Fletcher’s Creek, just west of the current boardwalk. During the hearing
on the permit for that boardwalk, concerns were raised about the
compensatory value of the proposed wetland creation in that area.
Additional discussions with the Wildlife Division have resulted in a
revised mitigation plan that would shift the proposed habitat enhancement
slightly to the east, in nearby Great Creek at Silver Sands State Park.
The Wildlife Division has determined that habitat restoration and
enhancement in the Great Creek area would be of better utility, as the
tidal creeks and pannes with the marsh provide significant habitat for
waterbirds and other wildlife with a minimum of human disturbance.
A mitigation plan will be implemented in the Great Creek that has three
elements. The first element is the creation of 5 new pools in the wetland
to enhance habitat for foraging wildlife. The pools would be created in
the areas delineated by the 5 white circles on the attached map. The
second element of the mitigation plan would be the restoration or creation
of approximately 2400 feet of tidal channel, which would be constructed to
further enhance waterbird habitat in the Great Creek system. The proposed
tidal creek creation/restoration would occur as depicted by the yellow
lines on the attached map. The third element of the plan would be further
control the Phragmites throughout the Park. This would include managing
the Phragmites through a 3-successive-year herbiciding and mowing regime in
an area of approximately 80 acres across Great Creek, Fletcher Creek, and
Nettleton Creek systems throughout the Silver Sands State Park.
Concern regarding impacts to piping plover
The project will provide protection to the piping plover that might nest on
the beaches and is addressed in the seasonal work closure period between
March 15th and September 1st.
Kathy Van Der Aue
Visit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com
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