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New area designated in Long Island Sound for research and environmental protection

National Estuarine Research Reserve map
Image from a Nature Conservancy press release.
A map of the National Estuarine Research Reserve.

State and federal officials today announced the establishment of a 52,000 acre National Estuarine Research Reserve in the waters and shoreline of Southeastern Connecticut.

It would stretch from the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme in the west, to waters around Bluff Point State Park in Groton in the east.

The Nature Conservancy Director of Marine Systems Conservation Chantal Collier says she's fortunate to have great memories of growing up in the area near the reserve.

“This is a really special area of the sound, Collier said. “It’s where I first got the opportunity to peer beneath the surface of the sound and explore the eelgrass meadows that occur there and all the amazing creatures that I found.”

Officials say the designation will bring a million dollars a year in state and federal funding.

Administrative offices will be located at the UConn's Avery Point campus.

Supporters of the designation say it will not bring any new restrictions to boating or fishing in the area, but it will encourage scientific research in the area.

Eventually, Collier says a visitor's center will be established.

Matt Dwyer is a producer for Where We Live and a reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department.