The Environmental Professionals Organization of Connecticut (EPOC) is pleased to announce our environmental grant awards for 2021 as follows (total amount of all awards is $12,000):
- Andover Sustainable CT Committee – Town of Andover
Andover’s Sustainable CT committee, a sub-committee of the town’s Economic Development Commission, seeks to achieve Sustainable CT certification for Andover and encourage actions in town with a high collective impact for current and future residents. As a Sustainable CT community, they strive to be thriving, resilient, collaborative, and forward-looking. EPOC’s grant will support the building of a community education garden to develop and promote community growing spaces. This community garden will be an inclusive educational space that provides opportunities for residents to engage in local farming and gardening. The garden will double as an educational space to teach the community about the diverse types of garden beds that can be built or purchased for their own living situations.
- The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
The mission of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (TMA) is to inspire people of all ages to appreciate and protect the Long Island Sound ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education. EPOC’s grant will support the launching of a new Citizen Science project to help gather data on freshwater mussels which are one of the most imperiled groups of animals in the United States. Today, of the 12 freshwater mussel species found in Connecticut, seven are endangered, threatened, or are species of concern. The project goals include education of the public about presence and importance of freshwater mussels in CT; identifying spots with high populations of freshwater mussels and populations of species of concern/endangered/threatened; and, to contribute survey data to state wildlife authorities to aid in planning and informing conservation/management actions.
- Friends of Sherwood Island State Park
The Friends of Sherwood Island State Park, the first State Park founded in Connecticut, are an integral support system for the 234-acres of beaches, woodlands, and marshes open to the public. The Friends physically assist park management with habitat restoration, support of a Purple Martin colony, planting trees and shrubs, and sponsoring educational lectures and guided trail walks. EPOC’s grant will support The Friends mission of expanding the interest in protecting the dunes through knowledge, understanding and appreciation. Portable and bi-lingual, explanatory lawn signs will be established, which can be moved around the Sherwood Island Park wherever the Garden Team volunteers are planting beach grass or removing invasive species, and can educate the beach visitors and urge them to ask questions and also volunteer.
- Two Rivers Magnet Middle School
Two Rivers Magnet Middle School is a science magnet school in East Hartford, with a majority of students from the Hartford population. EPOC’s grant will support the restoration of a native plant habitat in a field downriver of the confluence of the Connecticut River and Hockanum River left by Riverfront Recapture. Goals are to remove alien invasive species including Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) to allow for seeding and seedling transplants of select native plants that have high pollinator value. These will include species of Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum, P. tenuifolium); New England Blazing Star (Liatris novae-angliae), Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardenalis), and several others.
- Northwest Conservation District
The Northwest Conservation District (NWCD) serves 34 towns in northwestern Connecticut on conservation challenges. These challenges include drinking water and aquifer protection, wetland protection and restoration, aquatic resource protection through Low Impact Development (LID) measures, Open Space and Farmland Preservation, sustainable land care and land use, and agricultural resiliency and renewable energy. EPOC’s grant will support the Northwest Conservation District (NWCD), partnering with the Beardsley Memorial Library in Winchester, Connecticut, to install, plant, and maintain vegetable gardens and a pollinator garden. This grant will fund the purchase of two metal raised garden beds, vegetable seeds, native pollinator-friendly plants, high quality topsoil, gardening tools, educational materials, and appropriate signage. The primary goal of this project is to educate children and families about at-home gardening and the importance of pollinators.
- Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy (NCLC)
Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy is a regional conservation organization working with the communities of Litchfield and northern Fairfield Counties to safeguard natural and working lands, public recreation areas, and drinking water resources forever. Founded in 1965, NCLC is the largest land trust in Connecticut, protecting 12,500 acres (and growing) of vast, connected natural areas. NCLC’s conserved lands include 21 public hiking preserves, 40 working farms, and over 3,000 acres of habitat for rare and endangered species. EPOC’s grant will support a bird survey and habitat analysis and restoration plan at its Hauser Preserve in Litchfield, Connecticut focusing on the ground nesting and threatened bobolink. The project will entail a bird survey, field nesting bird habitat analysis, and cover restoration plan.
- Stamford Museum and Nature Center
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of art and popular culture, the natural and agricultural sciences, and history. They seek to inspire creativity, foster self-discovery, promote environmental stewardship, and nurture an appreciation for lifelong learning through exhibits, educational programs, and special events that enhance the visitor’s experience. EPOC’s grant will be used to restore a woodland meadow located in the forest by vernal ponds that is also used as a teaching site for environmental education classes and the outdoor education curriculum. This ecosystem contributes to the biodiversity of the site at a time when meadow ecosystems and their species have been on the decline. The goal of the project is to restore the woodland meadow to attract species who depend on the meadow ecosystem for survival. They will monitor an increase in species as a result of the restoration as a way to measure the success of the project.
- Niantic River Watershed Committee, Inc.
The Niantic River Watershed Committee is a volunteer organization dedicated to improving water quality in the Niantic River and its tributaries. The Committee is comprised of volunteers from the four watershed towns of East Lyme, Montville, Salem and Waterford, and nearby communities. EPOC’s grant will be used to expand upon the 2020 pilot project to sample 38 known stormwater outfalls to the Niantic River. In collaboration with the municipal DPWs, NRWC will use the collected data to track pollutants back through specific storm drain networks to identify and reduce or eliminate pollutant sources, resulting in improved aquatic habitat, a decrease in nutrient-driven algae blooms, fewer episodes of hypoxia, and a reduction in recreational shellfish bed closures following rainfalls of one inch or more.
The EPOC Grant Program provides non-profit and not-for-profit environmental advocacy groups, community-based groups and environmental education organizations, funding for local projects that benefit the environment on an annual basis. For further information, see our Grant Program page on our website at www.epoc.org/grants.