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The Still River Greenway Project is a multi-faceted environmental restoration with the goal of creating a “greenway” along the river corridor. A greenway is a tract of open space with a permanent conservation easement, exclusively for passive recreation, education, research, and aesthetic enjoyment of the environment. The “corridor” of the river includes the riverbed, its banks, and the floodplains and wetlands that flank the shoreline. Features of the project include:

Environmental Restoration of the Floodplains

Several projects have been constructed to increase the ability of the Commerce Park floodplain to hold water from major storms and allow these wetlands to settle out pollutants. This prevents these stormwater pollutants from reaching the River, where they would foul water clarity, fill in deep pools and lower water quality. The design for these floodplain improvements involves a “soft engineering” approach that involves planting of specified wetland vegetation along the existing levee of the river and along strategic drainage points to the River that have the effect of increasing the natural “bowl” character of the floodplain that allows the settling out of these pollutants. For more details about the design of the restoration of the floodplain, see the Restoration section of this site.

Shoreline Stabilization Work

A demonstration project has been designed and constructed along a 100 foot stretch of the shoreline in Commerce Park. The river, in the 2.2 mile project corridor, is characterized by undercut banks. The pattern of low flow punctuated by periodic storm surges has eroded the banks of the river so that they overhang the riverbed at a negative angle of repose. This condition is not conducive to a healthy habitat for finfish, which seek quiet, shallow water zones near the shoreline. Shallow water encourages aquatic vegetation, which promote insect populations for the fish to feed upon, and places for fish to hide.

To correct this situation, a “Root Revetment” demonstration project has been installed. Tree trunks of medium (10 - 12” diameter) were placed in the water at the shoreline, with their rootwads intact. These tree trunks are anchored to the shore-water interface with cable. This traps sediment to establish a gently sloping embankment to the river and a zone of emergent vegetation that will improve the habitat for fish. Click here to view a conceptual illustration of the progression of structural improvements to the shoreline structure. For more details about the design of the Root Revetment project in the River, see the Restoration section of this site.

Other elements of a healthy fish habitat in the Still River are already present :

  • Shading along the shoreline
  • Oxygenation of water by natural ripples in the stream bed
  • Periodic locations of deeper pools of water
  • Improved water quality

1997 and 1998 surveys of the river by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection have uncovered a healthy diversity of fish! The root revetment project is designed to capitalize on the rebound of fish populations in the river by improving habitat.

Recreational Access to the River

To showcase the beauty of the corridor, and the environmental restoration projects sponsored by this project, a recreational trail is being developed. This includes two modes of recreational access to the River Corridor :

A hiking trail has been constructed along the 2.2 mile corridor, along the floodplain of the River.

The river corridor can also be accessed by canoe, as there are no areas of white water. At low flow periods, the river may be so shallow that canoes have to be portaged for short sections. Nevertheless, it is considered passable at most times of the year. The long term plan for the project is to establish canoe launches at the beginning and the middle of the trail. Signage in the river will focus on environmental education.

mmedia3.gif (1136 bytes)Click here to listen to Peg Daley explain recreational plans for the River (1.3M - 15 sec.).

mmedia3.gif (1136 bytes)Click here for information on how Sun Valley Marina is helping with the clean-up (1.3M - 15 sec.).

Providing access to a section of the Still River Trail for individuals who are physically disadvantaged is an important feature of the project. Therefore, a “Handicap Access Zone” has been constructed at the beginning of the trail in Commerce Park (behind Kimchuk).

The design features of this handicap access walkway include a wheelchair accessible concrete surface and a modified gradient to the floodplain, with a railing and appropriate signage.

Environmental Education

The final aspect of the project is to establish an environmental education focus of the river and its floodplain. This has been begun by signage along the hiking and canoe trails, keyed to a trail brochure that highlights the natural history of the river and its associated ecosystem.  See the Education Center section for additional details.

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Last update:  May 9, 2001 11:37AM