By Jamie Vaudrey
A new Center will soon be joining the Avery Point campus, occupying space in the Weicker Building and elsewhere on campus – the proposed Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), the 30th in the nationwide system. As a partnership between NOAA, UConn, and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the proposed reserve will protect and enhance Connecticut’s coastal environments by leveraging system-wide programs to provide additional opportunities, capacity, and funds for research, training, stewardship, and education. The NERR will be headquartered on the Avery Point campus and, in the years to come, may bring a new building to campus.
Reserve staff (numbering about 15 people) will conduct and provide support for research, education, training, and stewardship within Reserve boundaries and in neighboring communities. A long-term monitoring program forms a cornerstone of the system and the NERR staff will seek input in 2022 on where we’d like to see that monitoring occurring. Are you interested in research in Long Island Sound and the neighboring upland properties? Collaborating with Reserve staff on science, education, or stewardship projects opens a path to National Science Collaborative funds, a competitive grant program awarding ~$3 million annually. The Davidson Fellowship provides graduate student support, and additional internship and research opportunities are available for undergraduate and graduate students.
The Biden Administration is interested in including the designation of the CT Reserve in their year one accomplishments, so the Reserve should be “official” by January 2022 and hiring staff by July 2022. The Designation Steering Committee, including DMS members J.E. Ward, I. Babb, C. Tobias and J. Vaudrey, and CT Sea Grant Director S. De Guise, is working with an advisory committee (including DMS member P. Vlahos) on a draft management plan and draft environmental impact statement; these will be available for public review in late summer 2021 with public hearings in September 2021.