Photos of the Long Island Sound

Media Center

Stewardship Success Stories, Stewardship Success Stories & Videos

Connecticut’s Largest “WMA” Gets Bigger

Recent Acquisitions at Barn Island WMA:Parcel 1: Manousos, 144 acres, 2005 Parcel 2: Crowley 1, 49 acres, 2007 Parcel 3: Crowley 2, 16 acres, 2010 Parcel 4: Matson, 6 acres, 2011

Recent Acquisitions at Barn Island WMA:
Parcel 1: Manousos, 144 acres, 2005
Parcel 2: Crowley 1, 49 acres, 2007
Parcel 3: Crowley 2, 16 acres, 2010
Parcel 4: Matson, 6 acres, 2011

This article first appeared in the February 2012 issue of Sound Outlook, a newsletter produced by CTDEEP.

The Barn Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Stonington is Connecticut’s largest, most diverse and most ecologically significant coastal wildlife management area. Like other state wildlife management areas, it is managed to provide healthy, undisturbed habitat for fish, birds, mammals, and other resident and migratory wildlife, and to offer a variety of natural resource-based outdoor recreational opportunities that are consistent with the area’s habitat management goals.

The area that was to become the Barn Island WMA was acquired by the State of Connecticut in 1944-1945, and started off as approximately 450 acres. Over the next 65 years, Barn Island grew to 1,024 acres. When considered together with 292 acres of abutting protected open space and the nearby Sandy Point Island Conservation Refuge held by the Avalonia Land Conservancy, this larger Barn Island Area Conservation Complex provides over 1,300 acres of the finest coastal conservation land in Connecticut. Adjacent to the shallow waters of Little Narragansett Bay, this landscape-scale coastal refuge provides habitat for 25 federal or state-listed endangered, threatened, or special-concern species. The area’s habitat complex, including sandy beach, coastal forest, freshwater fen, grassland, saltmarsh, and shallow estuarine wetland habitat, is recognized in a comprehensive study of fish and wildlife habitat of the Northeastern United States by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as providing regionally significant coastal habitat.

As part of a comprehensive effort to continue the legacy of expanding the boundaries of the Barn Island coastal conservation area, CTDEEP identified the larger remaining undeveloped parcels with conservation value in the area as possible additions to the existing conservation landscape. This effort, aided by a computer-automated tax parcel evaluation process known as  CLAM (Coastal Land Assessment Methodology) identified the most significant remaining conservation opportunities within the greater Barn Island landscape. Through the CLAM, each parcel’s potential conservation value was evaluated by comparing its attributes to key conservation evaluation criteria such as whether the parcel contained or was adjacent to ecologically significant features like tidal wetlands, large blocks of unfragmented forest, habitat hosting species of conservation concern, or whether it shared a boundary with existing protected lands enabling the parcel’s efficient management as part of an existing land conservation management unit.

After completing this automated evaluation process, resource experts and conservation property managers were consulted to determine if the property’s acquisition should be further investigated, and, if so, what funding sources might be available to assist in the property’s acquisition. This comprehensive conservation initiative from 2005-2011 has resulted in four acquisitions that have added 215 acres to the Barn Island area protected landscape.

Most recently, in December 2011, a 6-acre parcel abutting the Barn Island WMA (property #4 in the accompanying map), originally marketed for sale at over $900,000, was acquired by CTDEEP for $250,000 as an addition to the WMA using funds provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study program. This property, with an existing residence and outbuildings marketed for residential development could have compromised the ecological and recreational values of the WMA. Instead, the existing blighted structures will be removed from the site and likely managed as grassland or early succession scrub-shrub habitat and will allow for the eventual upland migration of an adjacent saltmarsh.

With continued support from the federal, municipal, and non-governmental organization partners that made this acquisition possible, CTDEEP hopes to continue the legacy of expanding the boundaries of coastal Connecticut’s most significant conservation area to provide new opportunities to sustain the plants, animals, and people that benefit from proactive, informed, and well-planned conservation investment decisions.

To plan a visit to Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, see the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide which describes this and approximately 300 other places open to the public on Connecticut’s coastal waters.

As part of a comprehensive effort to continue the legacy of expanding the boundaries of the Barn Island coastal conservation area, CT DEEP identified the larger remaining undeveloped parcels with conservation value in the area as possible additions to the existing conservation landscape. This effort, aided by a computer-automated tax parcel evaluation process known as CLAM (Coastal Land Assessment Methodology) identified the most significant remaining conservation opportunities within the greater Barn Island landscape. Through the CLAM, each parcel’s potential conservation value was evaluated by comparing its attributes to key conservation evaluation criteria such as whether the parcel contained or was adjacent to ecologically significant features like tidal wetlands, large blocks of unfragmented forest, habitat hosting species of conservation concern, or whether it shared a boundary with existing protected lands enabling the parcel’s efficient management as part of an existing land conservation management unit.

Editor’s notes:  Besides its contribution to the Matson purchase , the Long Island Sound Study also contributed to the purchase of the “Crowley 1” property by providing a  $650,000 grant. Also see Barn Island Restoration and Research Success Story to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to receive our e-newsletter, Sound Bytes by providing your email address. Interested in a free copy of our print newsletter, Sound Update? Then also provide your home/company/school address.