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Stratford’s Great Meadows Marsh will get an upgrade to protect birds and wildlife

 A viewing platform that is going to be removed at Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford.
A viewing platform that is going to be removed at Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford.

A key part of Fairfield County’s coastline is getting a $4 million investment. Construction will begin next week to restore Great Meadows Marsh is Stratford, the largest block of undrained saltmarsh in Connecticut.

Corrie Folsum-O’Keefe, the director of bird conservation at Audubon Connecticut, said marshlands like this provide habitat for wildlife.

The saltmarsh is home to the rare snowy owl and endangered species like the marsh pink flower and saltmarsh sparrow. Pockets of saltwater provide important habitat for horseshoe and fish like Atlantic silverside and menhaden to spawn.

She said the project will also protect Connecticut’s coastline.

“There’s a lot of restoration that needs to take place in the next 10 to 15 years to ensure that our marshes can continue to provide habitat for wildlife, and protection for coastal communities by absorbing flood waters,” Folsum-O’Keefe said.

The plan is to restore 33 acres of the area by improving the flow of saltwater to the marshland, building nesting habitat for birds, and planting over 170,000 native plants and shrubs.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said this is not only a win for the environment, but a win for the community.

“We know that it will bring more recreation, more fishing, more bird watching — all of the great activities and economic drivers that are so important,” Blumenthal said.

Great Meadows Marsh, part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, once spanned 1,400 acres, but it’s now half the size due to poor land management, invasive plants and sea level rise.

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