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Help restore the Mill River Aug. 19

An effort to restore one of the most valuable and storied wild trout streams in New England is under way, and volunteers are needed for the next step.

On Aug. 19, the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited, working with the Town of Fairfield, will reshape the Mill River along Congress Street. Once a meandering stream, the waterway was straightened due to development. Using a technique known as conifer revetment, turns and pools will be restored to a river known as one of the best wild brook trout habitats in Connecticut.

Once a meandering stream, the waterway was straightened due to development, which reduces the health of the stream and the habitat for trout and other aquatic life. Using a technique known as a conifer revetment, turns and pools will be restored to a river known as one of the best wild brook trout streams in Connecticut.

Conifer revetments use discarded natural Christmas trees to shore up the banks, collect sediment and reroute the river. Volunteers anchor now-dead evergreens in the water along the banks. There they will trap sediment and build up the bank, extending land into the water and creating a curve in the river.

“This is a great opportunity for volunteers to get their hands dirty and see the direct impact of their efforts as we work to improve the quality of the Mill River as a wild trout stream,” Nutmeg TU President Rich Rosen said. “Already we have mitigated the Knotweed problem and planted native trees and shrubs to help bring the river back to its natural state. We look forward to seeing more, larger fish making their home along Congress Street.” 

In the fall of 2017, the Nutmeg Chapter received a $670 grant from the Embrace A Stream program to support removal of invasive species and shoring up of the banks of the Mill River near the Easton-Fairfield border, along Congress Street in Fairfield.

A short time later, donors contributed another $1,860.69 toward the Mill River restoration in TU’s Embrace a Stream Challenge, which rewarded chapters with bonuses for reaching certain milestones and soliciting donations..

Money was also raised when Nutmeg TU collaborated with the Candlewood Valley and Mianus chapters on showings of the Fly Fishing Film Tour in 2017 and 2018.

Details on where to meet and how to volunteer will soon be posted, but save the date of Sunday, Aug. 19.

More than $1,000 donated for Mill River

Thanks to the support of our members and community, the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited raised more than $1,000 in additional funding for work to restore the Mill River at the Fairfield-Easton border along Congress Street through the Embrace a Stream Challenge, presented by Trout Unlimited and Orvis.

This combined with the $670 previously awarded will allow us to complete the project in the spring of 2018.

Working closely with the Town of Fairfield Conservation Department, we have reduced the knotweed problem and planted hundreds of native trees and bushes.

A regulation change is pending at the state level which would make the area where work is being done a Wild Trout Management Area. By increasing the depth of the river along Congress Street the river will better host the wild trout population.

In the spring we will use these funds to anchor discarded Christmas trees to the banks, where the branches will trap sediment and help form new, natural banks. The riverbanks that accumulate there will reroute the Mill River to its original track, and create better habitat for the native trout.

We invite the community to join us in the spring to help with the tree anchoring. Members and nonmembers are invited to join us at our monthly meetings, fishing outings and conservation events. You can follow us on Facebook or find about upcoming events at our website http://www.nutmegtrout.org and on MeetUp.

Rich Rosen


Nutmeg Trout Unlimited Chapter 217

Help win funds to fix Mill River

Local donors can help direct more money to restoration on the Mill River this week.

The Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a local, volunteer-led nonprofit dedicated to improving and restoring local rivers and streams, has been entered in the Embrace A Stream Challenge, a new online contest sponsored by Orvis and Trout Unlimited. From Nov. 6-12, the chapter has a chance to win its share of $50,000 in cash prizes to help fund the Mill River Conifer Revetment Project, an initiative to restore the Mill River in Fairfield County.

In early October, the Nutmeg Chapter received an $670 grant from the Embrace A Stream program to support this project, and now has a chance to win additional funds to complete the work.

To win, the chapter needs the help of its members, volunteers and community residents. From Nov. 6-12, anyone who visits www.embraceastream.org and makes a donation of as little as $10 to support the chapter’s work will help it unlock prizes ranging from $250 to $5,000. The chapter is competing in this contest with more than 40 other Trout Unlimited chapters from across the country.

“We’re excited to have the chance to raise even more money to restore and improve the Mill River in the Embrace A Stream Challenge,” said Rich Rosen, Nutmeg Chapter president. “But we need the help of all of our community members to win. If you care about clean water, and share our love for the Mill River, please help our more than 300 local members and volunteers by donating to this important project.”

The Mill River Conifer Revetment Project will focus on a section of stream that runs along Congress Street in Fairfield, where the river is more than 40 feet wide in some places, when it should average 15 feet. We will narrow the stream channel and stabilize the banks using conifer revetments to prevent future erosion and ensure that the stream at the site and downstream can support excellent trout habitat. Mill River is currently home to some of the highest densities of wild and native trout in the state, but we believe that the fishery can support even more trout with habitat improvement.

Embrace A Stream is a matching grant program administered by Trout Unlimited that provides funds to local chapters and councils for coldwater fisheries conservation. Since its inception in 1975, the grant program has funded more than 1,000 individual projects for a total of $4.4 million in direct cash grants. Local chapters and councils contributed an additional $13 million in cash and in-kind services to EAS funded projects, for a total investment of more than $17 million. The Embrace A Stream Challenge is a new national online contest sponsored by Orvis and Trout Unlimited to connect people who care with a chance to support improvements to the rivers and streams in their communities.

“This year, more than 40 local Trout Unlimited chapters from across the country have brought forward plans to take care of the rivers that they love to fish,” said Russ Meyer, chair of the Embrace A Stream grants committee, a group of Trout Unlimited volunteers who review and approve all grant applications. “The Embrace A Stream Challenge gives everyone in your community the chance to join us in supporting this important local project.”