Restoration Program helps citizen scientists explore local wildlife

Restoration Program helps citizen scientists explore local wildlife


A group of people dedicates Fridays to conservation.
Wading in water, their nets poised and eyes peeled, they search for signs of life in small
water bodies known as vernal pools. The group, a citizen science crew, represents
a unique partnership among the Town of Canterbury, Connecticut Audubon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. Today we’ve joined this crew as they tramp through the woods of Canterbury
to conduct late-April vernal pool surveys. A vernal pool survey is going to a pool that
dries up, doesn’t have an inlet or an outlet, doesn’t have fish, which would be a large
predator, and holds water for a certain number of weeks—so it has become over time, a critical
breeding habitat for certain amphibian species. And what we’re trying to do is show that
there are what we call obligate species that are using this pond, this pool, on a regular
basis. During the spring, I believe it’s like from
maybe about through April and May, usually there are groups going out on Friday and Saturday
mornings from 9 till noon. Some are in Canterbury; there are also groups in other towns. I’m loving just the science aspect because
it’s something I really hadn’t done before. Although I was raised up in the woods, so
I love going out in the woods. And I love being outside in the wintertime, so the combination
keeps me coming back. Today we learned about a seed shrimp, which
I had never heard of before. And if you don’t know what a seed shrimp is, you’ll have
to come out on a vernal pool walk and see what they are, where they are. Year after year, many of these amphibians
return to breed in the same pools. Birds, mammals and reptiles also come seeking food
in these important pools. Though they may seem small, the loss of vernal pools would
impact the many levels of wildlife and plants that use them. Because they do dry out, they don’t usually
appear on wetlands maps, and our wetlands agents are responsible for making decision
about land use; so we give this info as an additional tool to help them make a good land
use decisions. This citizen science crew has a special source
of funds, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program. Years ago, the 5-acre Yawarski lagoon leaked
industrial byproducts into the Quinebaug River and nearby wetlands, after which the trustees
received $40,000 to restore wetlands. A portion went to the removal of a pipe blocking
flow on the Moosup River, but much went to initiate this Canterbury citizen science program.
One of the alternatives that we selected was to help fund this citizen science program
here in Canterbury. And we were able to make a small amount of money, about $14,000, go
a really long way. In the first two years, we had nearly 60 people get out and volunteer
over 400 hours. Getting these funds and getting this started
was just the most magnificent thing that could have been done with the money. It’s going
a long way; it’s stretching a very long way and reaching a lot of people. By supporting citizen science in Canterbury,
the funds secured by the restoration program at Yawarski have empowered residents to identify
and ultimately protect their wetlands. It’s becoming advocates for the environment—for
their own communities—because they have some ownership. Salamander.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *