NPTU and PRWC welcome CT DEEP’s Chris Bellucci to Discuss Stream Connectivity and Cold Water Habitat
During the regular April meeting of Naugatuck-Pomperaug Trout Unlimited, guest presenter Chris Bellucci, a Supervising Environmental Analyst with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), will speak about the innovative use of trail cameras to measure stream connectivity and methods to map cold water habitat. This presentation is co-hosted by Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC) and is the first program in their “Water Wednesdays” series offered throughout the month of April in celebration of Earth Month.
“We are thrilled to team up with PRWC and DEEP to provide an opportunity for our members and the public to learn more about the importance of cold water habitats here in Connecticut, especially when it comes to supporting our native brook trout populations,” said Elizabeth Peterson, NPTU Chapter President.
Bellucci will discuss the work he and his colleagues are doing to measure stream connectivity with trail cameras and to develop a predictive model to identify cold water stream habitat. For many fish species, a healthy stream provides the setting for the full range of its life activity--shelter, food, and reproduction. They require the whole stream to provide the right setting for each activity, from deep slower-moving pools, to shallow, fast-moving “riffles,” and for there to be enough water in the stream to connect all of these habitats. When a stream becomes too dry, the habitats shrink and become disconnected. Fish might not be able to perform critical life functions and will die or fail to reproduce. The cause of the low water levels can be man-made interventions such as dams or water withdrawals, or natural phenomena such as the significant drought experienced in 2020.
Trail cameras, one of which is operating on the Pomperaug River in Woodbury, are an innovative new method pioneered by CT DEEP to monitor stream conditions by taking pictures every hour. Documenting the occurrence of dry, disconnected sections of stream is a first step towards addressing the problems they create for fish and other aquatic life.
Data from the cameras can better inform planning documents such as the State Water Plan and decisions about managing water balances. A more technical paper on the trail cameras was published in the scientific journal Rivers Research and Applications. These new data, along with the cold water habitat mapping which uses water temperature and fish community data as predictors, are important tools we can use to restore water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the Pomperaug River Watershed and throughout Connecticut.
The presentation will be held as part of NPTU’s regular (virtual) meeting on April 7 at 7:00 PM. Those who are not members of NPTU can find additional information and registration information on PRWC’s website at www.pomperaug.org/events. Once registered, participants will receive an email with the log-in credentials to join the meeting.