Aquarion’s reservoirs are surrounded by more than 15,000 acres of forest that serve as both a critical safeguard and an invaluable resource. By retaining moisture, filtering runoff, and keeping streams pristine, the forest protects water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people. Its millions of trees help to clean the air and moderate the climate. It also provides intact ecosystems where a diverse range of plants and wildlife can survive and flourish, and it provides the public with places to find peace, beauty, and recreation.
Managing this highly sensitive land requires a keen eye on its critical functions. Aquarion has always managed this land with the utmost care, often times being recognized as a great caretaker of nature. Today, this property is now managed by a partnership among the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, The Nature Conservancy, and Aquarion.
As a member of the partnership, Aquarion works to protect the forest’s many functions and resources. Our stewardship activities range from helping our partners route and maintain recreational trails in order to prevent erosion and shield critical habitat, to enforcing usage regulations and State laws, to helping the State act as a good neighbor to adjacent landowners.
Aquarion retains ownership of the even more sensitive land around our reservoirs. Though we allow public access in certain, carefully selected areas, we have also established stringent regulations designed to ensure public health and safety by minimizing, if not eliminating, any impact on our reservoirs and the surrounding lands.
With a historical perspective driven by pride and environmental concern, Aquarion has always proven to be a great caretaker of the environment. With responsibility for nearly twenty thousand pristine acres near and around its reservoirs, Aquarion has a demonstrated track record of maintaining and improving the land.
Working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and The Nature Conservancy, Aquarion agreed in 2002 to conserve 15,300 acres of forest near its reservoirs as a way to preserve open space, safeguard ecosystems, protect water supplies, and provide for public use consistent with those goals. Two years later, Governor Jodi Rell dedicated this land as the Centennial Watershed State Forest under the management of the three partners working together as the Centennial Committee.
Today, these lands not only provide vital buffers to the drinking water supplies for many thousands of people in Litchfield County, but they also serve as important habitat for numerous species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The Conservation Land Committee’s goals in managing this habitat are to maintain diversity of habitats and resident species, to improve habitat for a variety of species (including any rare, threatened or endangered species), and to encourage and accommodate public use and appreciation of the wildlife resources throughout the forest.
An important part of our wildlife management plan allows for limited bow and shotgun hunting for deer by special permit in carefully selected parts of the Centennial Watershed State Forest. This does more than provide hundreds of hunters with food each year. It also helps thin a deer herd that exceeds the carry capacity of the land due to the disappearance of natural predators. Left unchecked, this herd threatens the health of our reservoirs’ forest buffers and the surrounding landscape through overbrowsing. With the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection as one of our Watershed partners, we coordinate this and other aspects of our management plan with county- and state-wide efforts to assure healthy, long-term habitats for deer and other populations of wildlife.
Recreational and wildlife management activities in the Centennial Watershed State Forest are carefully coordinated to assure healthy, diverse populations of all species.