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Watershed Management Plan

The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan was created as a part of the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study to establish recommended tools and strategies for ensuring the watershed ecosystem is protected and enhanced for generations to come. The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan is a non-regulatory document, reflecting a partnership where local, state and federal interests all voluntarily agree to participate in its implementation and the realization of its purpose and goals.

Use the Request Copies form to order a hard copy of the Plan.


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Download the final formatted Watershed Management Plan and Maps:
NOTE: Text sections of plan can be printed double sided. Maps are formatted 11×17 color but also work as letter or legal sized color prints. All documents are PDF.

Smaller Sections:
Section 1: Table of Contents and text (2.2 mb)
Section 2: Record of endorsements by Commissions, Boards and Voters (1.2 mb)
Section 3: Color maps 1-3 (4 mb)
Section 4: Color maps 4-8 (3.1 mb)
Section 5: Color maps 9-13 (4.0 mb)
Section 6: Color maps 14-17 (3.8 mb)
Large Complete Documents
Complete Watershed Management Plan Text (15.8 mb)
Maps (15.3 mb)

Watershed Management Plan Appendices
Each link starts PDF download in seperate page (or right-click –> ‘Save Link As’). Some files are large. You may also download a .zip file of the entire docuement (27mb)

  1. Outstanding Resource Value Report: Water Quality
  2. Outstanding Resource Value Report: Watershed Hydrology
  3. Outstanding Resource Value Report: Geology
  4. Outstanding Resource Value Report: Unique Species & Natural Communities
  5. Outstanding Resource Value Report: The Cultural Landscape
  6. Outstanding Resource Value Report: The Watershed Ecosystem
  7. Analysis of Existing Protections and Potential Gaps in Protection
  8. Summary of Analysis of Management Issues and Threats to Outstanding Resource Values
  9. Tier One Tools – Recommendation Details and Background (download as single document 9mb )
    1. Tier 1 Tools Introduction Packet
    2. Management Issue 1 – Riparian Corridor Protection
    3. Model River Overlay Summary
    4. Riparian Buffer Zones: Functions and Recommended Widths
    5. Analysis of Parcels Intersecting Proposed River Protection Area
    6. Management Issue #2 – Habitat Fragmentation
    7. NEMO Fact Sheet: Carving up the Landscape – Habitat Fragmentation and What to Do About It
    8. Eightmile Watershed Existing Habitat Blocks
    9. Management Issue # 3 – Increases in Impervious Surfaces
    10. NEMO Fact sheet #3 – Impacts of Development on Waterways
    11. Current Impervious Surfaces Map (2002)
    12. Management Issue #4 – Stormwater Management
    13. 2004 Connecticut Stormwater Quality Manual – Table of Contents
    14. 2004 CT Stormwater Manual Chapter 2 – Why Stormwater Matters: The Impacts of Urbanization
    15. General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Stystems
    16. Massachusetts River and Stream Crossing Standards: Technical Guidelines
  10. Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Rivers Study Act of 2001
  11. Outreach and Education Documents,Eightmile Wild & Scenic Study
  12. Municipal Regulation and Policy Review of East Haddam, Lyme and Salem , CT
  13. Assessment of the Archaeological Resources of the Eightmile River Watershed
  14. Eightmile River Watershed Project – Land Resources Inventory and Data Analysis
  15. Northeast Instream Habitat Program Report: Initial Biological and Physical Attribute Survey of the Eightmile River–Phase 1 Final Report.
  16. Buildout Analysis Report & Memo from Study Committee

What is the Watershed Management Plan?
The Watershed Management Plan is a non-binding, advisory only document that identifies the actions that should be implemented to achieve the goals and criteria for the long-term protection and enhancement of the watershed’s outstanding resource values.

Why Do We Need a Watershed Management Plan?
There are many reasons why we need a plan:

1. Completion of a Watershed Management Plan is one of the three requirements for completing the overall Study. We must prove to Congress that there is a plan in place to protect and enhance the watershed’s outstanding resource values and that the local communities and the state are committed to being a partner in its implementation.

2. Completing the management plan prior to any potential Wild & Scenic River designation provides the communities a clear description of how the watershed would be managed if designated.

3. The watershed’s outstanding resource values are threatened. A strategy is needed to protect them. The communities of East Haddam, Lyme and Salem combined make up 90% of the Eightmile River Watershed. Over the last decade all have experienced substantial growth pressures. Incremental and poorly planned growth pose the greatest threat to the special qualities of the river system. Fragmenting forests and habitats, poorly managing storm water runoff, and paving over important groundwater sources all slowly degrade the features that make the Eightmile River Watershed such a unique place.

Developing the Watershed Management Plan
The most important role the communities of the Eightmile River Watershed take during the Wild & Scenic Study process is to participate in the development of a locally created management plan for the Eightmile River Watershed. The locally-led Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee has been working for over a year on developing the watershed management plan.

The development of the Management Plan is guided by three fundamental principles:

1. Resource conservation and protection should be fully integrated with traditional patterns of use, ownership, and jurisdiction, relying on existing authorities.

2. Management of the Eightmile River Watershed should be based on a cooperatively developed plan that establishes resource protection standards and identifies key actions accomplished through cooperation among all public and private organizations with an interest in the river.

3. Any land conservation initiatives related to a Wild & Scenic designation will be based solely on voluntary willing seller arrangements. There will be no acquisition of lands through federal condemnation in conjunction with a Wild & Scenic River designation.

The process for developing the plan has involved the following:

1. Establishing a comprehensive understanding of the threats facing the watershed’s outstanding resource values. A list of 26 threats has been compiled that identifies which ORVs are affected and how they are stressed. The four top threats include:

  • degradation of the riparian corridor (i.e. land right along river and stream corridors)
  • habitat fragmentation
  • increases in impervious surfaces (e.g. roadways, rooftops and parking lots)
  • polluted stormwater runoff
  • For a summary of these top threats see Top Threats.pdf

2. Identifying the ways in which the outstanding resource values are currently managed and protected. A comprehensive review of local, state and federal regulations and policies was completed.

3. Identifying protection goals and the related attributes and criteria for measuring successful achievement of those goals for each ORV. This has been completed for the four key natural resource ORVs: water quality; hydrology; unique species and natural communities; and the watershed ecosystem. For more information on ORV goals see ORV_Goals_Final.pdf.

4. Determining gaps in the current levels of protection for each ORV. This has been completed for the same four ORVs mentioned above.

5. And finally, the development of possible tools local communities could implement to ensure the long-term protection and enhancement of the watershed’s outstanding resource values. The final tools, as determined by the local study committee in cooperation with local land use commissioners, landowners and other key stakeholders, will form the basis of the recommended actions in the Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan. This process is well underway. A joint summit of all land use commissioners from the three watershed towns met on March 31 to discuss the plan. Meetings are ongoing with key staff and land use commission members in each town. Additional meetings with the full land use commissions are planned for late July, August and September.

Who Implements the Watershed Management Plan?
If a Wild & Scenic designation occurs, the Watershed Management Plan would be implemented by a locally led stewardship council with the support of the National Park Service. Funds from the National Park Service may become available as a result of a designation that would support the plan implementation activities.

Use the links below to learn more about specific aspects of the Management Plan:

Official Executive Summary: Web page or PDF File (9 pages in new window).

Below is the formal executive summary as presented in the December 8, 2005 draft of the Eightmile Wild and Scenic Management Plan. You may also download a formatted version as an Adobe Acrobat PDF. You may click each heading to move down to that topic.


Introduction
The Eightmile River Watershed is an exceptional natural and cultural resource. The 62 square mile watershed is a rolling forested landscape with over 150 miles of pristine rivers and streams, large areas of unfragmented habitat, an abundant array of rare and diverse wildlife, beautiful vistas, high water quality, unimpeded stream flow and historic features making it a unique example of an intact and functioning watershed ecosystem in Southern New England. The watershed is almost entirely located within the three towns of East Haddam, Lyme and Salem, Connecticut. Designation as a component of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System is being pursued for the entire watershed area.

This management plan was created as a part of the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic River Study to establish recommended tools and strategies for ensuring this watershed ecosystem is protected and enhanced for generations to come. The plan was developed by the locally-led Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee with input from town land use commissions, local citizens, the state and other key stakeholders. This plan and Wild & Scenic designation has been formally endorsed by all seven land use commissions in the three towns. (this sentence to be added assuming all final endorsements are achieved) In addition, the Connecticut General Assembly unanimously passed and the Governor signed an act supporting Wild & Scenic designation and the Department of Environmental Protection’s participation in the implementation of the plan.

The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan is a non-regulatory document, reflecting a partnership where local, state and federal interests all voluntarily agree to participate in its implementation and the realization of its purpose and goals. The roles and responsibilities of land use planning and regulatory commissions and agencies do not change if Wild & Scenic Designation occurs as there are no federal mandates or new regulatory powers created with a designation.

Implementation of the management plan through Wild and Scenic designation potentially offers a net financial gain for Eightmile towns and local partners. Costs associated with implementing the management plan are to be funded through new annual funding available through designation. In addition, other sources of funding can be more easily leveraged using the “clout” of a designation. If designation is delayed or unsuccessful or if annual funding levels provided by the National Park Service after designation are insufficient, towns have no obligation to expend funds. However, many of the costs associated with implementing the management plan are negligible and towns and partners can elect to go forward with implementation regardless of the status of new funding.

The development of the management plan was guided by three fundamental principles:

(1) Resource Conservation and protection relies on existing authorities.

(2) Management of the Eightmile River Watershed is based on a cooperatively developed plan that is implemented through the cooperation of all river and watershed interests.

(3) Any land conservation initiatives related to a Wild & Scenic designation will be based solely on voluntary willing seller arrangements.

The National Wild & Scenic Rivers System
The National Wild & Scenic River System was established by Congress in 1968 to protect certain outstanding rivers from the harmful effects of new federal projects such as dams and hydroelectric facilities. Since then over 160 rivers or river segments have been protected nationwide, including 6 in New England. To be considered a “Wild & Scenic” river it must be free flowing and have at least one outstanding natural, cultural, or recreational value.

Today, a subset of the Wild & Scenic Rivers system called Partnership Rivers is being used effectively to create river protection approaches that bring communities together in protecting and managing local river resources.

* Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers are a unique subset of 9 rivers along the east coast that share some common management approaches including: no federal ownership of lands; river management through existing local and state authorities; management strategies that are developed and implemented through the locally led study committee and are locally approved prior to designation; responsibilities associated with managing and protecting river resources are shared among all of the partners – local, state, federal, and non-governmental; and volunteerism is a consistent backbone of success.

* The Eightmile River Watershed is being recommended for designation as a Partnership Wild & Scenic River.

Benefits of a Wild & Scenic Designation
A National Wild & Scenic River designation can bring a river system many benefits. Through National Park Service funding and staff support resources could be made available to help all the partners achieve the protection of the watershed’s outstanding resource values resulting in:

* Preservation of a clean and plentiful water supply

* Protection of the rural character that defines the local communities

* Robust and diverse plant and animal populations that reflect a healthy ecosystem

* Possible funding support to help towns achieve their open space conservation goals

* Sound scientific information to help local land use commissions perform their functions

* Small grants to help local schools, towns, civic groups, private landowners and others on projects which support the purposes and goals of the plan

In addition, if designation is achieved, the National Park Service is required to review and comment on all projects that are either federally funded or federally permitted to ensure such activities are consistent with the protection and enhancement of the outstanding resource values that made the river eligible for designation.

The Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study
Recognizing the watershed was a very special place with a host of unique resource values worth preserving a local campaign by town boards, area land trusts, river-fronting landowners and residents was undertaken requesting Congressman Rob Simmons and Senator Chris Dodd to pursue the authorization and funding from Congress to undertake a national Wild & Scenic River Study. The entire Connecticut congressional delegation supported the bill and on November 6, 2001 it was signed into law by President Bush (Public Law No. 107-65).

The study has been conducted by the locally-led Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee. The Committee’s membership includes the First Selectman from the communities of Lyme, Salem and East Haddam, representatives of the three area land trusts, representation from a land use commission in each town, the CT River Estuary Regional Planning Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the CT Department of Environmental Protection, and The Nature Conservancy. The National Park Service provides staff support and overall coordination.

The Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee was responsible for three major tasks: (1) Discover and/or prove what is special about the Eightmile River Watershed; (2) Develop a watershed management plan that will facilitate the protection and enhancement of these special values; and, (3) Demonstrate to Congress that community members, local land use decision makers, the State of Connecticut and other watershed stakeholders support Wild & Scenic designation of the Eightmile River Watershed. A complete study report that summarizes all of the studies findings and recommendations will be published as a separate document, and have a public comment period, at the end of the study process.

A key decision was made early on by the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee to pursue a watershed based Wild & Scenic designation. This decision was made in recognizing that of all its many special qualities, the most outstanding is that the Eightmile River Watershed is a rare example in the Northeast of a whole river system which is fully intact. Furthermore, taking a watershed ecosystem approach to conservation recognizes protection and management strategies cannot just consider a single river segment, plant or animal species, or wetland system in isolation from all that is around it. All of these components are interconnected and if any one is disturbed or altered, all of the others can be affected. The watershed ecosystem approach is comprehensive and based on the interconnectedness of all the natural and cultural resources within the watershed.

Outstanding Resource Values
To prove what is special about the Eightmile River Watershed the Study Committee researched and identified six Outstanding Resource Values (ORVs) in the Watershed. To be an ORV the resource must be natural, cultural or recreational in character and convey unique, rare or exemplary qualities on a regional or national scale. Local, regional and state resource professionals determined the six outstanding resource values that make the Eightmile Watershed exceptional include the cultural landscape, geology, water quality, watershed hydrology, unique species and natural communities, and most importantly the watershed ecosystem. Complete descriptions of these resources and why they are considered outstanding are available in the appendices.

Purpose of the Management Plan
The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan achieves many purposes, some key ones include:

1. Providing stakeholders a clear recommendation of how to protect and enhance the watershed’s outstanding resource values and the role a Wild & Scenic designation would have in implementing such recommendations.

2. Substantiating to Congress the suitability of the Eightmile River Watershed for designation as shown through the support of the local communities, the state and other stakeholders to be partners in the plan’s implementation.

3. Providing strategies to measure the quality of the watershed’s outstanding resource values over time.

4. Providing measurable indicators and guidance to future decision-makers about what constitutes sufficient protection if goals for the outstanding resource values are to be met.

5. Establishing management recommendations that rely principally on locally-led and locally implemented strategies. Regardless of achieving a designation, the Plan serves to help all the stakeholders protect the watershed’s ORVs.

Implementing the Plan
To oversee the implementation of the Plan a non-regulatory advisory committee would be established called the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee (ERWSCC). The responsibilities of ERWSCC include: overseeing the implementation of the Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan; monitoring of the outstanding resource values with respect to the degree they are protected, degraded or enhanced during implementation of the plan; addressing river-related issues that arise in the watershed; review and update the Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan; and prepare periodic status reports on the quality of the watershed and the progress in implementing the Plan.

The membership of ERWSCC will include representatives from all key stakeholders including municipalities, landowners, the State, local land trusts, The Nature Conservancy and if designated the National Park Service. If designated congressional appropriations may become available to provide funding and staff resources to support the work of ERWSCC. The Committee is encouraged to leverage any potential federal or non-federal funding to maximize the impact of these resources.

The Partners
The Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers effort is based on a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each partner. The primary partners in the Eightmile River Watershed include landowners, local municipalities, the state and if Wild & Scenic designation is achieved the National Park Service.

Landowners – Landowners are considered key to overall management plan success. While landowners are under no new regulations or mandates as a result of this plan or a Wild & Scenic River designation, it is hoped they will be supportive of land stewardship practices that are consistent with the Plan and the spirit and goals for protecting the watershed’s outstanding resource value goals. It is recommended that landowners are represented and actively participate on ERWSCC.

Local Municipalities – The role of each municipality is voluntary and the actions each town may take are solely up to the towns to decide. The plan calls for each town to be an active participant on ERWSCC and in achieving the goals for the watershed’s outstanding resource values.

State of Connecticut – Similar to the towns, the state’s role is to be an active participant on ERWSCC, working cooperatively with all the partners to implement the management plan.

National Park Service (NPS) – If Wild & Scenic River status is achieved NPS will be an active participant on ERWSCC and coordinate any funding that is authorized by Congress for use in implementing the Management Pan. In addition, as discussed above, NPS would be responsible for reviewing and commenting on all federally funded or federally permitted projects to ensure compatibility with protecting and enhancing the outstanding resource values

The Management Recommendations – Tier One and Tier Two
In establishing the management recommendations a comprehensive assessment was completed that identified: a protection goal for each outstanding resource value (ORV); the level of existing local, state and federal protection available for each ORV; threats and management issues that could degrade ORV quality; gaps between in existing local, state and federal protection and threats/management issues that might lead to long-term impairment of the ORVs; and, recommended tools that could be implemented to achieve adequate protection and enhancement of all the ORVs. The management recommendations are organized into two categories: Tier One and Tier Two.

Tier One – Tier One recommended tools are high priority items that have been identified as important to implement in the short-term to ensure protection of the outstanding resource values. Management partners including local communities, the state and others are asked to begin the process of implementing Tier one tools within 6-12 months of achieving affirmative votes of support for Wild & Scenic designation at town meetings. As an initial step in pursuing the implementation of the tier one tools each partner is asked to first establish a timeline and approach for completing such an implementation process.

It is recognized that it is unlikely designation and the securing of funds to support designation will be achieved in the 6-12 months timeframe that has been suggested to begin the implementation of the tier one tools. As such it is recommended that the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee be established upon the dissolution of the Eightmile River Study Committee. This action will not only achieve providing continuity and continued momentum between the end of the study process and a formal designation it will also show Congress the high level of partner commitment to the long-term preservation of the watershed. As there would be no congressional authorization for the National Park Service to participate as a member of ERWSCC prior to a designation, the agency’s involvement may be limited.

The implementation of some of the tier one tools will take significant human resources, time and possibly funding to complete. As such it will be the intent of the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee and the National Park Service to prioritize any funding or technical resource support if a designation occurs on implementation of these items. Management Plan partners, including local communities and the state, while not expected to implement all the recommended tools if a designation does not occur are strongly encouraged to implement those parts of the plan that can be done without undo stress on human or financial resources.

It is important to note that all the recommendations for local commissions are just that, recommendations. This planning document or the powers of a Wild & Scenic designation can not force a community to adopt them. The actual implementation of these recommendations will require all the formal procedures the commissions must follow especially in considering and potentially adopting any new regulations, including public notice, public hearings, and commission deliberation prior to making a final determination.

Tier one recommendations include:

1) Riparian Corridor Protection – Riparian corridor lands, those lands adjacent to rivers and streams, are the first line of defense for a river system. Maintaining and protecting these areas in a natural native condition is the most important action that can take place to ensure the long-term quality of river and watershed resources.

Recommended Action: To protect riparian corridor function adopt a River Protection Overlay Zone for all perennial streams and rivers in the Eightmile River Watershed that provides a 50 foot protection area along small headwater streams, and a 100 foot protection area along larger streams.

Note: The effect of this proposal on property owners is very small. Only 5 % of all the lands in the watershed would be within the proposed overlay. Of that, 97% of the proposed overlay protection area is already regulated by local Inland Wetlands Commissions as wetlands or are under review by the local Inland Wetlands Commission as an upland review areas. The proposal is sensitive to ensuring landowners are not unduly burdened through its potential implementation. Details of the proposal, its purpose and its limitations can be found in Appendix 9 – Tier One Tools Recommendation Details.

Following are three maps that display the proposed overlay area and provide a comparison with the existing locations of wetlands and watercourse as well as the regulated upland review area already under the jurisdiction of the local inland wetlands and watercourses commissions. (opens in Adobe Acrobat PDF file)

1) Proposed River Protection Overlay Zone – Eightmile River Watershed

2) Wetlands and Watercourses – Eightmile River Watershed

3) Existing Municipal Upland Review Areas – Eightmile River Watershed

2) Habitat Fragmentation – Habitat size directly effects species distribution, migration and population size, and is critical for maintaining overall biological diversity and ecosystem functions. Fragmentation of habitat occurs when a large region of habitat has been split into a collection of smaller patches. For example, a forest habitat may become fragmented when a road is built across it splitting it into two smaller disconnected patches. Fragmentation can cause, among other things: a reduction of total habitat area; vulnerability for species forced to migrate to other habitat patches; the isolation of populations leading to a decline in population size and quality; and edge effects altering habitat, species composition, microclimates, and vulnerability to predation.

Recommended Action: Commit to making protection of important habitat blocks an open space conservation priority, work with partners on identifying voluntary land conservation opportunities, and be a partner in pursuing federal funding to support such types of acquisitions.

An analysis of potential change to habitat blocks can be viewed in the following three maps (opens in Adobe Acrobat PDF file):

1) Existing habitat blocks and current buildings of the Eightmile River Watershed

2) Open Space with existing habitat blocks and current buildings in the Eightmile River Watershed

3) Potential and current buildings at full build-out with habitat blocks and protected open space – Eightmile River Watershed

3) Increases in Impervious Surfaces – Impervious surfaces, including rooftops, parking lots, and roadways can cause significant impacts to overall water quality and watershed hydrology. Impervious surfaces block rainfall from infiltrating into the soil, increasing surface runoff and decreasing groundwater infiltration. Among other things this can lead to reduced groundwater recharge causing a decreased base flow, in turn potentially causing streams to become intermittent or dry. Water quality as well can be affected as impervious surfaces increase polluted stormwater runoff impacting variables such as nutrient levels, temperature, bacteria and heavy metals.

Recommended Action: Each community sets a maximum impervious surface goal of 10% for any sub-basin within local the watershed and 4% for the Eightmile River Watershed as a whole. In addition, each community supports working with the Eightmile River Committee to 1) refine modeling of current and future impervious levels, 2)use the modeling to predict future increases in imperviousness in each town and 3) adopt appropriate tools to address limiting impervious surface increases to meet impervious surface goals.

An analysis of potential change in impervious cover can be viewed in the following two maps: (opens in Adobe Acrobat PDF file)

1) Current Impervious Cover of the Eightmile River Watershed

2) Potential Impervious Cover at Full Buildout of the Eightmile River Watershed

4) Stormwater Management – Poor stormwater management can affect a host of issues associated with overall watershed quality including impacts to: overall hydrology; stream channel morphology; floodplain function; water quality; habitat; and overall ecological function.

Recommended Action: Three actions have been identified including: (1) Require the design, implementation and maintenance of all new stormwater systems to be consistent with the 2004 CT DEP Stormwater Quality Manual; (2) Complete a Stormwater Management Plan for each municipality’s stormwater system as described in the State’s General Permit for Small Municipal Stormwater Systems; (3) Adopt The University of Massachusetts guidance for watercourse crossings, an approach that is promoted by the Army Corps of Engineers (New England Region).

Tier Two – Tier Two recommended tools are longer-term actions partners can take to further protect watershed resources. There are a host of recommendations that if pursued will provide a strong combination of sound science and good stewardship to substantially enhance the long-term protection of the resources Many of the tier two tools recommend establishing additional scientific baseline information and monitoring for the outstanding resource values. This information is critical to the overall success of the plan and its ability to assess and document the level of protection and enhancement achieved through the plan’s implementation. In addition, other important tools include supporting the use of voluntary open space conservation to protect important values and outreach and education initiatives to important target audiences such as landowners, school groups and land use commissions.

It is highly recommended that towns attempt to pursue these tools in addition to and generally after implementation of the Tier One tools. It is understood and anticipated that it will take 2-5 years or more to implement the majority of the tier two tools. Again, this will partially depend on the ability of the ERWSCC to provide support to the partners where and when needed.

Outreach & Education
The goal of outreach and education is to engage the public, including landowners, recreational users, towns and the state to be continually involved and active in protecting and enhancing the outstanding resource values of the Eightmile River Watershed Key actions include publishing periodic newsletters and other publications, providing annual protection progress reports, establish and maintain a web site, offer pertinent workshops and trainings, provide volunteer opportunities to keep the public engaged, pursue publicity and the media when necessary, and engage the local schools in activities that help promote awareness and stewardship of watershed resources.

Summary
Implementation of the Eightmile River Management Plan and achievement of a Wild & Scenic Designation for the Eightmile River Watershed will provide long lasting benefits to all the Eightmile River Communities. This partnership approach will support and enhance the quality of life residents of the watershed have come to expect, while ensuring local communities remain in control of their own futures.

The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan was created as a part of the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study to establish recommended tools and strategies for ensuring the watershed ecosystem is protected and enhanced for generations to come. The plan was developed by the locally-led Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study Committee with input from town land use commissions, local citizens, the state and other key stakeholders.

The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan is a non-regulatory document, reflecting a partnership where local, state and federal interests all voluntarily agree to participate in its implementation and the realization of its purpose and goals.

Tier One Management Issues
The Management Plan has identified four tier one management issues with recommended tools. The tier one recommended tools are high priority items that have been identified as important to implement in the short-term to ensure protection of the outstanding resource values. The Eightmile River Management plan as well has a host of tier two management recommendations to be implemented over a longer time frame. The details of those recommendations can be found in the full management plan document.

It is important to note that the recommendations for local land use commissions are just that, recommendations. The management plan or the powers of a Wild & Scenic designation can not force a community to adopt the recommendations. The actual implementation of these recommendations will require all the traditional formal procedures the commissions must follow in considering and potentially adopting any new regulations, including public notice, public hearings, and commission deliberation prior to making a final determination.

Tier One Management Issues Include:

Habitat Fragmentation
The size of unfragmented habitat blocks directly affects the distribution of species, and is critical to maintaining biological diversity and ecosystem function. Habitat fragmentation occurs when a large region of habitat is split into a collection of smaller areas. Fragmentation can cause, among other things, changes in species diversity, composition, population size, and community function.

The Eightmile River Watershed currently is substantially unfragmented—26% of the unfragmented blocks are greater than 500 acres in size, 15% are greater than 1,000 acres in size and 5% are greater than 2,500 acres in size.

Recommended Management Tool: Open Space Conservation

  • Work with willing private landowners on a voluntary basis to conserve important habitat areas.
  • Identify remaining unfragmented habitat blocks as high priority for open space conservation in town planning documents such as the Plan of Conservation and Development and the Open Space Plan.
  • Establish a land protection goal for each community and the watershed as a whole, and seek federal funding assistance for land protection as part of Wild & Scenic designation.
  • Commit to working with other partners, such as local land trusts, the Nature Conservancy and the State to leverage resources and collaborate when opportunities arise to protect priority lands.

An analysis of potential change to habitat blocks can be viewed in the following three maps:

1) Existing habitat blocks and current buildings of the Eightmile River Watershed

2) Open Space with existing habitat blocks and current buildings in the Eightmile River Watershed

3) Potential and current buildings at full buildout with habitat blocks and protected open space – Eightmile River Watershed

Increases in Impervious Surfaces
Impervious surfaces, including roofs, roads and parking lots, can affect the water quality and hydrology of a watershed. Impervious surfaces cause increases in polluted stormwater runoff, which can impact nutrient levels, temperature, bacterial load and heavy metals found in our streams and rivers. An impervious cover of as low as 4% has been shown to degrade aquatic life and habitat quality.

The Eightmile River Watershed is currently estimated to have approximately 3% impervious cover. This low level of imperviousness is a key reason why the watershed is still an intact and functioning ecosystem. Various scenarios of how the watershed could be developed suggest that impervious cover could increase to over 11%—which would lead to a substantial degradation of watershed health.

Recommended Management Tool: Set Maximum Allowable Impervious Cover

  • Set a maximum impervious cover target of 10% for any local basin within the Eightmile River Watershed.
  • Set a maximum impervious cover target of 4% for the Eightmile River Watershed as whole.
  • Work with the Eightmile River Committee to assess current and potential future imperviousness in each local watershed, and determine the amount of impervious cover still possible to meet the local watershed limit.
  • Develop an effective, appropriate and realistic tool to locally manage impervious cover and pursue the tool’s adoption within each community

An analysis of potential change in impervious cover can be viewed in the following two maps:

1) Current Impervious Cover of the Eightmile River Watershed

2) Potential Impervious Cover at Full Buildout of the Eightmile River Watershed

Stormwater Management
Stormwater runoff can have profound affects on water quality, hydrology, stream channel morphology, floodplain function, habitat quality and ecological function. Approximately one-quarter of Connecticut’s major rivers and streams are impaired, and do not meet Clean Water Act standards due to impacts from stormwater runoff. Fortunately, there are a variety of best management practices that can help communities effectively manage stormwater runoff and minimize these potential adverse affects.

Recommended Management Tools: Apply State-of-the-Art Approaches to Managing Stormwater Runoff

  • Require the 2004 CT DEP Stormwater Quality Manual to be used as guidance for the design, implementation and maintenance of all new and existing stormwater systems in each community.
  • Complete and implement a Stormwater Management Plan as described in the State’s General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.
  • Adopt guidance from The University of Massachusetts for watercourse crossings (e.g., bridges and culverts), an approach that is used by the New England Region of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Riparian Corridor Protection
Riparian corridors are the lands adjacent to rivers and streams. They are the first line of defense for a river system, and protecting the riparian corridor is a critical first step towards ensuring the long-term quality of river and water resources. Activities in the riparian corridor that remove or alter the functionality of the natural, native vegetative cover can substantially degrade its ability to perform its many ecosystem functions. Riparian corridors:

  • Preserve water quality by filtering sediment and other pollutants from runoff before entering a river, stream or shallow ground water.
  • Protect streambanks from erosion by maintaining an intact root structure along the banks.
  • Provide a storage area for flood waters.
  • Provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • Provide shade for rivers and streams to keep water temperature low and dissolved oxygen high.

Recommended Management Tool: River Protection Overlay Area

  • An overlay area for all perennial streams and rivers in the watershed to protect and enhance the functions and values of the riparian corridor.
  • 50 ft protection for small headwater streams.
  • 100 ft protection on larger streams.
  • Provides flexibility by respecting pre-existing uses and providing for uses consistent with protection of riparian corridor function.

NOTE: The effect of this protection tool on property owners would be small. Only 5 % of all lands in the watershed would be within the proposed overlay. Of that, 97% of the overlay area is regulated by local Inland Wetlands Commissions as either wetland or upland review area. This tool is sensitive to ensuring landowners are not unduly burdened through its potential implementation.

Following are three maps that display the proposed overlay area and provide a comparison with the existing locations of wetlands and watercourse as well as the regulated upland review area already under the jurisdiction of the local inland wetlands and watercourses commissions.

1) Proposed River Protection Overlay Zone – Eightmile River Watershed

2) Wetlands and Watercourses – Eightmile River Watershed

3) Existing Municipal Upland Review Areas – Eightmile River Watershed

Tier Two Management Issues
Tier Two Tools were used to outline the long term direction and strategies for protecting the ORVs. This longer list of recommendations and guidance includes less detail than the Tier One issues but rounds out the protection framework necessary to preserve the Eightmile well into the future. These tools are meant to be advisory in nature and implemented at the discretion of each land use commission and participating organization.

Tier Two recommended tools are longer-term actions partners can make to further protect watershed resources. It is anticipated it will take 2-5 years to implement the majority of the tier two tools, again this will partially depend on the ability of the ERWSCC to support the partners in the tool implementation when needed.

Many of the tier two tools recommend establishing additional scientific baseline information and monitoring for the outstanding resource values. The indicator goals provided with each ORV often recommend a benchmark to measure quality, or level of potential impacts to quality, over time. This information is critical to the overall success of the plan and its ability to assess and document the level of protection and enhancement achieved through the plan’s implementation.

The tier two tools focus on other longer-term opportunities as well, including: the ongoing need to provide land use decision makers with current, accurate and scientifically sound information and technical advice to help in their decision making processes; the use of voluntary open space conservation to protect important values; and outreach and education initiatives to important target audiences such as landowners, school groups and land use commissions.

Wild & Scenic Sees Action in Congress – 5/25/07
Despite spending only one minute being briefed on the Eightmile Wild & Scenic designation at a recent Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, the Senate has completed the initial step to move the legislation forward. Senate Bill 553, with accompanying written testimony from the local Coordinating Committee and from Senator Dodd was then referred to markup and other stops along the way to a final vote.

In mid April, the House version of the Bill (HR986) was taken up at a subcommittee hearing, passed through the markup process, the full Natural Resources committee and was then referred to the House floor for a vote. Congressmen Courtney testified in person for the House hearing as did Nathan Frohling, vice-chair of the Eightmile Coordinating Committee. While the House hearing spent more time than the Senate reviewing the Eightmile bill, it was obvious that the strong local support and lack of controversy would make the trip to the President’s desk a much smoother process than was the case in the previous Congress.

While the local Coordinating Committee is hopeful that the official designation will occur during the present Congress, they are not waiting for the Congressional nod to move forward with the local mandate to protect the Eightmile.

Support Local River Protection
The Salem Planning & Zoning Commission has acted to move forward with a Riparian Corridor Overlay Zone which was one suggestion in the Watershed Management Plan published in 2006. The commission will hear public comment on the proposed zone on June 19 at 7pm. Public support for this important river protection measure will be key factor in moving forward – please consider attending.

In Lyme, the Planning and Zoning subcommittee is working with the Eightmile Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee to draft a final riparian overlay district which will hopefully go to public hearing in the Fall of 2007. Check the Calendar of Events for upcoming meetings.

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