Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Barn Island is the largest and single most ecologically diverse coastal Wildlife Management Area in Connecticut. With over 60 years of continuous wetland research at this site, Barn Island provides a rare window into long-term marsh development both before and after restoration efforts. Its 1,024 acres are marked by centuries of cultural and biological history, once a vital resource for early colonial settlers and Native Americans and now for scientists and outdoorsmen. Its diverse habitats support rare plants and animals which add to its rich ecological resource base. Barn Island’s sprawling landscape sustains a wide variety of ecosystems and recreational activities; it consists of salt and brackish marshes, one of the state’s largest coastal forests, hilly uplands, intertidal flats, sandy beach, and a rare sea-level fen.
Since the 1930s, human actions have dramatically shaped the ecological landscape of Barn Island. The draining of its tidal pools in an attempt to control a hazardous mosquito population sparked a series of reactionary restoration and remediation efforts, and set the context for decades of research on marsh ecology. Data on Barn Island continues to be utilized extensively by scientists and researchers exploring how salt marshes respond to sea-level rise and restoration efforts, making it a multi-faceted success story.
Watch Chris Elphick, an ornithologist and conservation biologist at the University of Connecticut, discuss the impact of sea-level rise on tidal marsh birds in Barn Island and other tidal marsh habitats.
Watch Jamie Vaudrey, a marine biologist at UConn, discuss the impacts of land use on the water quality of harbors and bays in Long Island Sound. She is interviewed on a research boat on Little Narragansett Bay off the coast of the Barn Island Stewardship Area.
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Over 60 years of research at Barn Island make it a model for tidal marsh restoration planning.
A series of acquisitions has helped the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area become the state's largest, most diverse, and ecologically significant coastal wildlife management area.