The Pequonnock Plant-a-thon: 2100 plants, 70 volunteers, 1 clean river.

Last fall, Save the Sound installed a fishpassage structure at Glenwood Park in Bridgeport on the Pequonnock River.  Portions of a concrete apron were removed and replaced with a pool and weir fishway.  The purposes of the pools and weirs are to reduce the speed and force of the water so fish can more easily swim upstream, increase the depth of the water so fish can safely travel, and provide resting areas for the fish as they make their journey from Long Island Sound to Bunnell’s Pond and the Pequonnock River to spawn.

In addition to the fishway, Save the Sound worked with CT DEEP to install a camera at the top of the dam at Bunnell’s Pond.  Now we are able to see the positive results of the fishway and count just how many fish are making successful trips.  Click to see footage of the solar-powered fish camera.

To complete this project, Save the Sound had a plant-a-thon on May 10, 2014.  Volunteers helped to plant over 2,100 native plants along the riverbank next to the fishway.  These plants will not only beautify Glenwood Park, they will also provide habitat for creatures living near the river and filter run-off from roads to keep the water clean for fish.

About 70 folks from in and around Bridgeport came out on May 10 to help plant.  Individual volunteers as well as members of Beardsley Zoo’s Conservation Discovery Corps, BuildOn Bridgeport, Gap Inc., GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., and National Charity League’s Fairfield chapter dug in the dirt for a few hours and not only helped to plant over two thousand plants, but also laid straw and mulch around the entire planting area.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division Supervisor Steve Gephard, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Bridgeport Christopher Anastasi and Save the Sound Executive Director Curt Johnson all said a few words celebrating the return of migrating fish to the Pequonnock River prior to the plant-a-thon.

Steve Gephard (tan hat, far right) talks to Sen. Blumenthal (front) and volunteers about the river - “We also saw two sea lamprey nests (empty) below the bridge to the Wonderland of Ice. This is the first confirmation of this migratory species in this stream.”
Steve Gephard (tan hat, back) talks with our Habitat Director Gwen Macdonald (middle), Sen. Blumenthal (front) and volunteers about the river – “We also saw two sea lamprey nests below the bridge. This is the first confirmation of this migratory species in this stream.”

Site Systems, Inc., a landscape design company based in Connecticut, created a planting plan for the riverside with an assortment of native plugs, shrubs, and seeds, including black-eyed susan, gray dogwood, tufted hair grass, fireworks goldenrod, northern bayberry, and false indigo.  The variety of plants and thoughtful design will provide beautiful color throughout the seasons. Last year, Site Systems won an award for their design of the green infrastructure and landscape project funded through Save the Sound in Old Mine Park in Trumbull. Both projects were identified as part of the Pequonnock River Initiative.

Bridgeport Parks & Rec Department played a large role in the planting event: from preparing the site weeks in advance, to laying soil and installing silt fence the week before, to planting shrubs and plugs the day of with the rest of the volunteers, we could not have had such a successful event without their help!

Additionally, Wood Grinding Unlimited donated the mulch needed for the planting area; Stop & Shop store #0670 of Main Street Bridgeport donated food and water for the volunteers; The Wonderland of Ice provided safe storage of the plants and allowed us to use their parking lot; and Beardsley Zoo provided use of their electric carts to transport plants to the planting site.


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