Southwest Conservation District

The Southwest Conservation District is a nonprofit that provides technical assistance, information, and education about natural resource conservation and management to residents and municipalities in southwest Connecticut.

We help the public with soil, water, and other conservation issues.

See below for information about upcoming events/projects, meeting information, and overall progress of the district!

News and Current Events

SWCD helped facilitate a student-led pond restoration project at Amity Regional High School. Student volunteers planted a variety of native shrubs to enhance habitat and improve water quality of the pond.

High school students planting native shrubs next to a pond.

SWCD provided technical guidance for Brown University undergrads in creating this SciToons video. Presenting…

Eutrophication: The Silent Threat to Our Waters

With generous funding from the Quinnipiac River Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the SWCD worked with watershed stakeholders over the past year to improve watershed planning in the Quinnipiac regional watershed.  The main goal of the project was to meet with stakeholders and gather information on water quality issues and potential projects in several smaller sub-regional watersheds. The stakeholders selected Wharton Brook, Tenmile River, and Muddy River as the targeted watersheds. SWCD has finalized these reports and they are available for download and review below as PDF documents:

Watershed planning document for Wharton Brook

Watershed planning document for Tenmile River

Watershed planning document for Muddy River

After many years of no newsletter, the SWCD has rebooted this outreach tool.  Please find the move recent document (Spring 2023) posted here: Newsletters

The Southwest Conservation District received $9710 from the Quinnipiac River Fund through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.  This funding will support us in continuing to host stakeholder meetings in the Quinnipiac River Watershed.  Attendees will include local non-profits, municipal land use staff, private citizens and other interested parties.  The objective is to create enhancements to the existing Watershed Based Plan by focusing on smaller sub regional watersheds and developing priority project lists for those same smaller watersheds. For more information, please see the Quinnipiac River Watershed Based Plan.

Update: A stakeholder meeting was held on May 26, 2022 at 10 AM via Zoom.  Stakeholders representing municipalities and various organizations invested in the watershed met to discuss the overview and timeline of project goals as well as the selection process of sub-regional watersheds to focus future project implementation. Participants were asked to review and provide an update on priority projects listed on Figure 4.1 on page 65 the most recently updated watershed plan. Please email any updates or questions to Chris Sullivan at csullivan@conservect.org.

The Southwest Conservation District was awarded $25440 by the Department of Agriculture to support two farms in our service area:

$6500 of this grant is to pay for installation of permanent fencing for a first generation sheep farmer in Guilford.  This permanent fencing  will help with better protections for his flock and also reduce time and effort of the farmer used for moving current temporary fencing on his property.

$18940 is to support a Latina farmer in East Haven.  She is building a healing by growing farm on her property where she will be training attendees how to grow their own food in a small urban setting.  She will be focusing outreach to assist veterans and other victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries to heal by growing crops.  This teaching and empowering opportunity will benefit from the purchase of raised beds, privacy fencing, and paving of areas to make the property wheelchair accessible for attendees of the healing and learning sessions.

The Southwest Conservation District received $9710 from the Quinnipiac River Fund through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.  This funding will support the us in continuing to host stakeholder meetings in the Quinnipiac River Watershed.  Attendees will include local non-profits, municipal land use staff, private citizens and other interested parties.  The objective is to create enhancements to the existing Watershed Based Plan by focusing on smaller sub regional watersheds and developing priority project lists for those same smaller watersheds.

The Southwest Conservation District received $10000 to develop conceptual design plans for a Farm River Greenway Trail in East Haven. These funds were awarded to by the Greater New Haven Green Fund through their annual competitive grant process. The project centers around 1.5 miles of town owner property on the stream banks of the Farm River. Partners in the project include the Town of East Haven and Fuss & O’Neill with support from CT DEEP Fisheries, South Central Regional Water Authority, and East Haven Land Trust.

A public presentation about the trail design concept was held on January 25, 2022. The presentation slides and video recording may be found in the links below. Comments from attendees and other interested individuals were also carefully considered during the planning process.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) supports projects to fully restore the health and living resources of Long Island Sound. In a collaborative effort, all CT Conservation Districts were awarded funding through the LISFF to partner with communities in urban waters to enhance stewardship of Long Island Sound (CT). This award allows us to implement projects involving internal environmental justice training, and partner with environmental justice communities to identify five water quality projects of value both locally and to Long Island Sound, Connecticut. Projects will increase awareness and understanding of diversity, equity, and environmental justice issues, increase capacity for future water quality project work, and enhance stewardship of local waters.

Grant Amount:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$90,415

Matching Funds:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$60,000

Total Project Amount:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $150,415

Targeted municipalities within the Southwest Conservation District service area include Ansonia, Bridgeport, Danbury, Derby, East Haven, Meriden, Naugatuck, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Waterbury, and West Haven.

Please visit the LISFF program page for more information: https://www.nfwf.org/programs/long-island-sound-futures-fund

The Southwest Conservation District is going to be holding its 75th annual meeting on Monday November 8, 2021, at 5 PM via Zoom. The meeting will feature a presentation given by a well renowned archaeologist as well as a presentation of the District’s highlights and milestones this past year. If you are interested in attending, please email Chris Sullivan at csullivan@conservect.org.

The Southwest Conservation District has been contracted to coordinate the development of the Farm River Watershed Based Plan. This program is funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) program. The final document will meet both NRCS and CT DEEP Nonpoint Source Pollution Program objectives. Finishing this document will create implementation projects and funding opportunities for improving the watershed. For more information, please see the Farm River Fact Sheet.

Projects will be eligible within any of the municipalities in the watershed. These communities include Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and East Haven.

Update: A public presentation on the complete watershed plan document was held on Wednesday August 11, 2021 at 5 PM via Zoom. The agenda and presentation are linked below. The final draft of the plan document is also linked below.

The Southwest Conservation District has been contracted to coordinate the development of the Farm River Watershed Based Plan. This program is funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) program. The final document will meet both NRCS and CT DEEP Nonpoint Source Pollution Program objectives. Finishing this document will create implementation projects and funding opportunities for improving the watershed. For more information, please see the Farm River Fact Sheet.

Projects will be eligible within any of the municipalities in the watershed. These communities include Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and East Haven.


Update: A stakeholder meeting was held on June 29, 2021 at 10 AM via Zoom. Files that were reviewed during the meeting are downloadable and are linked below. These files are DRAFT images for inclusion as the top ten implementation sites for water quality enhancements in the Farm River watershed.  These visuals will be accompanied by descriptive text of the site, cost estimates for installation work, and other details.  A key/legend to the images is also included as a graphic file posted on this page. The SWCD is looking for comments and feedback on these visuals at this point and will be sharing the accompanying text for public input and review by interested parties in the coming weeks.  A public presentation on the complete watershed plan document will be conducted in August and will be noticed on this website and SWCD social media pages.

Japanese Knotweed stand before and after removal. This stand was solarized on May 17th, and will continue to be monitored over the next few months.

In March 2021, the Southwest Conservation District received $3000 from the Quinnipiac River Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. These funds were used to purchase equipment and tools for invasive plant removal on a floodplain along Wharton Brook.  The project is in coordination with Lyman Hall High School and students will be designing research projects as well as identifying and removing the invasive plant species that have taken over this natural resource. On May 17th and June 2nd of this year, we, along with many eager students, worked to clear two stands of Japanese Knotweed. We are currently monitoring two methods of management: solarization vs. non-solarization. The solarized stand was covered with a tarp to help suppress the spread, and the non-solarized stand was left uncovered. Over the next few months, the spread of the Japanese Knotweed will be measured to analyze the effectiveness of solarization on this particular species.

Students at Green Acres Elementary School helping us complete the rain garden by planting potted flowers in the ground.

Construction has begun at the Green Acres Elementary School rain garden in North Haven, Connecticut! We are working collaboratively with staff from the Town of North Haven to install a rain garden that prevents runoff from the school grounds from entering the Quinnipiac River. Through this project, we will also be working with the Board of Education to develop a lesson that incorporates the importance of rain gardens and their impact at a watershed-wide scale. We will also be promoting land stewardship by having students involved in the planting of the rain garden as well as invasive plant management around its perimeter. This project was funded by the U.S. EPA Section 319 NPS Grant Program, which was administered to us by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The Southwest Conservation District received $10000 to develop conceptual design plans for a Farm River Greenway Trail in East Haven. These funds were awarded to by the Greater New Haven Green Fund through their annual competitive grant process. The project centers around 1.5 miles of town owner property on the stream banks of the Farm River and Partners on the project include the Town of East Haven, Fuss & O’Neill with support from CT DEEP Fisheries and South Central Regional Water Authority and East Haven Land Trust.

The Southwest Conservation District received $3000 from the Quinnipiac River Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. These funds will be used to purchase equipment and tools for invasive plant removal on a floodplain along Wharton Brook.  The project is in coordination with Lyman Hall High School and students will be designing research projects as well as identifying and removing the invasive plant species that have taken over this natural resource.

The Southwest Conservation District has been contracted to coordinate the development of the Farm River Watershed Based Plan. This program is funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) program. The final document will meet both NRCS and CT DEEP Nonpoint Source Pollution Program objectives. Finishing this document will create implementation projects and funding opportunities for improving the watershed. For more information, please see the Farm River Fact Sheet.

Projects will be eligible within any of the municipalities in the watershed. These communities include Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and East Haven.


Update: On February 25, 2021, the SWCD held a meeting via Zoom to gather agricultural-related input within the Farm River Watershed to identify concerns and solutions. The input will assist in the writing of the watershed based plan to appropriately implement the Best Management Practices to improve water quality.

On November 30, 2020, the SWCD held its 74th Annual Meeting. During this meeting, Elsa Loehmann was officially elected onto the Board of Directors, and Melissa Mostowy was introduced as the new technical staff for the District. The Fundraising Committee  was also established during this meeting, and will meet regularly to organize possible funding sources for the District.

Elsa Loehmann was elected to join the Board of Directors in November 2020. Elsa currently serves as the Vice President of the Cheshire Land Trust, and works as a Natural Resource Practice Lead at Fuss & O’Neill.

Melissa Mostowy was hired  as a Natural Resource Specialist in December 2020. Prior to joining the SWCD, Melissa worked as a field hydrogeologist at Fuss & O’Neill. She also interned at the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as a GIS Analyst. Concurrently with her internship, she earned her Master’s degree in 2018 from Wesleyan University with a research focus on paleo-climate by analyzing Antarctic sediment.

73rd Annual Meeting of the Southwest Conservation District
Board members and Executive Director celebrate Denise Savageau and time with SWCD

Board and Staff at 73rd Meeting (Chris Sullivan, Executive Director; MaryRose Palumbo, Chairwoman of Board; Denise Savageau, Secretary; David McCarthy, New Associate Director; Alicia Mozian, Director; Steven Johnson, Treasurer).

The 2019 Annual Meeting also celebrated the rebirth of the District, and in particular, the dedication of Denise Savageau to the SWCD for over 24 years.  The meeting also featured the election of a new Board Member, David McCarthy of Branford.