Important Westport coldwater trout streams protected

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The ongoing effort to protect and improve water quality and fish habitat in the East and West branches of the Westport River recently has taken a major step forward with the protection of properties that contain sensitive tributaries to the river.

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The Buzzards Bay Coalition recently completed the permanent protection of two properties in Westport—purchasing a 50-acre parcel off Drift Road that will become the Lyons Brook Reserve and recording a conservation restriction on a 25-acre private property off Main Road along lower Angeline Brook.

The two properties not only remove potential sources of future pollution from sensitive tributaries that flow to the Westport River but also protect two of the state’s few remaining coldwater streams supporting sea-run Eastern Brook Trout populations. Coldwater streams are streams and rivers with exceptionally high water quality and that remain cold enough throughout the year to support coldwater fish such as brook trout. While historically widespread in our area, development and climate change threaten these critical habitats, raising the stakes to preserve those that remain.

“These are tremendously important projects that we have completed. The places where brook trout persist along the Southern New England coast are these places where intact forests have been protected and remain along the streams,” said Brendan Annett, Vice President of Watershed Protection at the Coalition.

“And it is not just about the fish. Since the presence of the trout is an indicator of the high environmental quality that remains, protecting these healthy waters is good for everything else downstream in the watershed, the river and the Bay.”

The woodlands and wetlands contained by these tracts of land support a variety of wildlife, including native sea-run brook trout, American eel, river herring and myriad migratory birds. The protection of the premises will enhance the ecological value and integrity of similarly protected adjacent areas.

The 25-acre parcel along Angeline Brook remains private property but further development has been permanently restricted, it lies adjacent to and buffers other protected lands, including the publicly accessible 150-acre Herb Hadfield Conservation Area. The Lyons Brook property encompasses the majority of the watershed area of that stream, which flows to the East Branch of the Westport River. It also abuts existing conservation land owned by Westport Land Conservation Trust.

The Coalition plans to maintain the Lyons Brook Reserve to allow public access to the site. The property already harbors several well-maintained trails, ideal for bird-watching, hiking, trail running and exploring the forest. The Coalition expects to formally open the preserve later this year, and is now considering some improvements to trails and creation of a small parking area.

Category: On the Land

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The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

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