Over our 35-year history, the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) has successfully educated and worked with thousands of residents and businesses throughout the Quinnipiac River Basin. QRWA utilizes a broad array of strategies to fulfill our mission to conserve the Quinnipiac and its watershed. We run programs, events and actions in education & outreach, advocacy, science & monitoring, conservation & restoration, and recreation & public access. From our inception, the QRWA has successfully combined citizen-based teamwork, public education, and professional advocacy for strong legal and regulatory natural resource protection.
QRWA's volunteer corps is our muscle. We connect scientists with lay-people, coordinating the training of volunteers to collect scientific data on water quality, conduct population surveys and monitor the physical characteristics of rivers. We enhance the public's river experience by providing seasonal guided trips, and participate in other organizations water-based events by providing paddling instructors, giving the public an opportunity to access the river and view its wildlife from a different perspective. We also offer free paddling during municipal family day and water trail day events.
We have established annual get-on-the-river events: the Quinnipiac Downriver Classic canoe and kayak race; the Source-to-Sound Cleanup; River Bioassessment by Volunteer Program; Fish Stocking of both the upper and lower river, and regular guided hikes and canoe trips. We offer a semiannual, two day basic canoe and water safety program to Quinnipiac University Students and appreciate and enjoy the participation of Hopkins Students on their annual visit to our headquarters for Senior Community Service. We formed a Paddle Committee to support recreational paddling throughout the watershed and bring our fleet of canoes to annual river festivals in New Haven, West Haven and Land Trust events. In our recent partnership with 3M and the Meriden High Schools we now provide environmental educational programs where students in the watershed and beyond participate in annual field trips, classroom activities, hands-on projects, and independent studies, that will connect them to the environment, the community and river. In 2016 we have plans to include Meriden Elementary K-5 grades and Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford.
With the completion of our restoration project of the historic Dossin Beach Bathhouse on Hanover Pond and the Quinnipiac River now serving as our headquarters and a Regional Environmental Education Center every child in the watershed-and beyond-has an opportunity to experience the river, outdoor recreation and wildlife. The center is a staging area for our efforts to get kids and their families outside through exploration, boating, wildlife observation, healthful exercise, and fishing. Through the center, they will learn to become observant citizen scientists and stewards of the Quinnipiac River and its natural resources. The center and the grounds of the QRWA have become a platform for educational programs for our membership and the general public and also has a has a 2nd floor library and administrative offices. We are proud to have dedicated the Library to the Gattilia Family.
QRWA has formed many effective public and private partnerships. Reflecting the trans-boundary nature of a watershed, QRWA works with its allies at the municipal, regional, state and federal level, as well as with universities and colleges, foundations, local schools, neighborhood groups, other environmental organizations, and the business community to champion resource protection as a public benefit. We consistently work with Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) Bureau of Water Management, Office of Long Island Sound Programs, and the CT DEEP Parks & Forests Division, as well as with the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service. The QRWA is an organizational member of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, a state-wide rivers advocacy group, and the New Haven Environmental Coalition.
Working with students and Natural Resource Conservation Service ecologists, we have conducted native plant wetland and streamside buffer plantings. We have coordinated dozens of volunteers to erect osprey nesting platforms in the Quinnipiac marsh, and constructed a public bird viewing blind within view of one of the platforms. In 2004, we coordinated 200 beetle farmers to biologically control purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) as part of a statewide effort run by University of Connecticut.
In April of 2012 working with CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division, the Town of Wallingford and Save the Sound we constructed a fishway on Wallingford's Wallace Dam to permit native shad and alewife to reach their historic breeding grounds in the upper Quinnipiac.
In December of 2013 we finalized updating the 2004 Quinnipiac Watershed Action Plan into a CTDEEP and EPA-approved watershed based plan to implement projects to reduce non-point source pollutant loads in the watershed and improve water quality in the Quinnipiac River. Members of the QRWA Steering Committee have put together a plan to work with municipalities, and town leaders throughout the watershed to assist in seeking funding for projects under the 319 Clean Water Act.
QRWA has an aggressive advocacy program, arguing for limiting water diversions on an already stressed river and for increasing vegetative buffers, preserving habitat and mitigating runoff pollution whenever development threatens the river or its wildlife. QRWA advocates at the municipal level, providing testimony at Inland Wetlands and Watercourses, Conservation, and Planning & Zoning Commission hearings and at the state level joins with other river groups in support of stream flow and buffer legislation.
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