What Can I Do?

Riparian Buffers and Landscape Plantings

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Arborists, Landscapers, and Tree Services

Towns within the Zone have adopted a riparian buffer standard requiring that vegetation be left within a minimum of 50 feet from the Connecticut River, its tributaries and marshes. (Old Saybrook has adopted a 100-foot riparian buffer requirement).

Retaining natural vegetation between a lawn, which is often maintained with fertilizers and pesticides, and the Connecticut River reduces the potential for chemicals to wash into the water following storms or irrigation.

Riparian buffers make use of the earth as an effective “filter” to protect the river’s water and stabilize slopes to prevent erosion. Our local wildlife – from osprey to microscopic species – that make the river valley so appealing benefit from smart design.

Your suggestions for native shrubs and plants will further benefit the river valley’s health. Although Connecticut generally has plentiful rain, the state has experienced more frequent summer dry spells and even droughts. Xeriscape design using native plants that are drought tolerant can be an effective option.

riparian buffer in front of a home

A great example of a riparian buffer.

What should I suggest for waterfront plantings?

Our local pollinators have evolved to depend on our local plants. Our caterpillars and bees can’t use trees from China and Japan.

The monarch butterfly is a good example, as it needs milkweed to survive. Without milkweed, there will not be monarchs, and we don’t typically put these “weeds” in our yards. Their removal from fields by farmers, moreover, has also threatened monarchs.

You may wish to recommend a variety of native pollinating plants, including milkweed, and grasses in a landscape.

Graphic by Torrance Downes

What is a “pollinator pathway?”

Pollinators are extremely important to our environment. They allow farms, orchards, our gardens, and plants to bear fruit and reproduce. According to the Bee Conservancy, these insects pollinate 1 in 3 bites of food we eat.

Bees and monarch butterflies, among other species, are in serious decline from habitat loss and indiscriminate pesticide use.

Well-managed yards connecting to other nearby yards with similar management create a “pathway” for these critical pollinators to survive.

Many Connecticut communities have active Pollinator Pathway programs which can offer advice about plants, pollinators and natural ecosystems.

Silver washed fritillary

Flowers with pollinators, Larisa Koshkina

eight member Town map

Yes, We Have No Land

Although the CT River Gateway Commission has helped preserve over a thousand acres of land in the Zone, it does not own any land or hold any land protection agreements (often referred to as conservation easement). Since its creation in 1973, all the land the Gateway Commission has helped acquire and any land protection agreements it negotiated have been donated to the State of Connecticut, towns or land trusts for their care.

Checkout this interactive map of the Zone.