Cornwall Bridge, CT – The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) recently received funding from the Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) for the 2024 Still River Watershed Connections Program and from FirstLight Power (FirstLight) for the 2023 Program.
Coming up on its 8th year, the Still River Watershed Connections program connects young people from the Danbury area with environmental restoration projects to provide hands on environmental education, teach about environmental careers, provide job skills training, and raise awareness of the Still River in watershed communities.
Since its inception, the program has touched over 700 kids – bringing awareness to a river that was an open industrial sewer for much of its history, with riverside neighborhoods designed to keep it out of sight and hard to access.
This past year, partly funded by the FirstLight Sustains program, students worked at project sites around the Still River Greenway (Danbury), Lake Kenosia, Bennett Memorial Park, and Erickson Road Kayak Launch. They cleared and mapped invasive species including Mugwort, Japanese Knotweed, and Water Chestnuts; planted around 60 native plants at Bennett Memorial Park in three riparian gardens; live-staked over 400 native willows along a restored streambank to serve as deterrents for geese; and learned about water quality and data collection.
“We are so grateful to FCCF and FirstLight for investing in youth education and career development in the sciences through our Watershed Connections program,” said Mike Jastremski, HVA’s Watershed Conservation Director. “Getting these kids outside to build a sense of stewardship and excitement for their home river is huge, and their work helps improve wildlife habitat and the quality of life for surrounding communities.”
The Still River Watershed Connections Program is built on strong partnerships between area schools, youth service nonprofits, watershed municipalities, and conservation groups. Core partners include the Alternative Center for Excellence, Danbury High School, Danbury Youth Services, Still River Alliance Commission, and Western Connecticut State University.
About FirstLight Power
FirstLight Power (FirstLight) is a leading clean power producer, developer, and energy storage company serving North America. With a diversified portfolio that includes over 1,600+ MW of operating renewable energy and energy storage technologies and a development pipeline with 2,000+ MW of solar, battery, and offshore wind projects, FirstLight specializes in hybrid solutions that pair hydroelectric, pumped-hydro storage, utility-scale solar, large-scale battery, and offshore wind assets. The company’s mission is to accelerate the decarbonization of the electric grid by supporting the development, operation, and integration of renewable energy and storage to meet the world’s growing clean energy needs and deliver an electric system that is clean, reliable, affordable, and equitable. Based in Burlington, MA, with operating offices in Northfield, MA, New Milford, CT, and Oshawa, ON, FirstLight is a steward of more than 14,000 acres and hundreds of miles of shoreline along some of the most beautiful rivers and lakes in North America. FirstLight has been wholly owned by PSP Investments since 2016. To learn more, visit www.firstlightpower.com.
About Fairfield County Community Foundation
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation promotes philanthropy as a means to create change in Fairfield County, focusing on innovative and collaborative solutions to critical issues impacting the community. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Community Foundation is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards, and has awarded $180 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.
As the conservation organization dedicated to the entire 2,000 square-mile tristate Housatonic Watershed, HVA acts to protect the natural character and environmental health of the valley from the Berkshires to Long Island Sound for this and future generations. HVA works in three ways to establish climate-ready conditions across the region by 2040: Follow the Forest to conserve a 50,000-acre woodland and wildlife climate corridor for wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon and temperature moderation; Clean, Cold and Connected to restore and protect 500 miles of rivers and streams and drinking water sources; and Education and Equitable Representation to engage the watershed’s diverse people and communities in equitable participation in and access to a clean, healthy, and climate-ready Housatonic Watershed. Learn more at www.hvatoday.org.