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Summers of extreme drought and floods pose challenges to local agriculture, fish and wildlife

 Hay farmer Milan Adams releases a handful of dry soil in a recently plowed field.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Hay farmer Milan Adams releases a handful of dry soil in a recently plowed field, in Exeter, R.I., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Adams said the soil in the field is powder a foot down. Adams added that farmers are fighting more than the drought, inflation is driving up the cost of everything, from diesel and equipment parts to fertilizer and pesticides.

Connecticut farms have experienced extreme drought and floods, finding it increasingly difficult to prepare for alternating extremes. While 2021 brought floods that devastated many Connecticut crops, farmers are again dealing with drought this summer.

On Friday, federal officials declared New London and Windham counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to drought, while Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland counties are designated as "contiguous counties."

Farmers interested in applying for assistance can contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

This hour, we hear from local producers, including from Provider Farm in Salem. State Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt also joins.

Plus, Long Island Soundkeeper and fish and wildlife biologist Bill Lucey has observed changes in fish populations in fresh- and saltwater, and the habitats where they live.

"Extreme weather events impact wildlife in many diverse ways," says a spokesperson for the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, noting impacts on flora and fauna from migratory birds and insects to berries and acorns.

"If it’s too wet, nests can flood and wash away; if it is too dry, food and water can be harder to find close by. More frequent intense storms can topple nest trees, erode stream banks, and create many other habitat changes that challenge wildlife."


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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.