Roger Tory Peterson once said that the most impressive avian spectacle was along the Connecticut River, where hundreds of thousands of tree swallows congregated. Recent news would make him proud: The Connecticut River watershed has been named America’s first National Blueway. The designation recognizes and supports exemplary river system stewardship that includes abundant conservation, environmental education, recreation, and economic opportunities. Encompassing 7.2 million acres in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the watershed includes the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, sub-boreal forests, floodplains, and a globally recognized important wetland. The region, a major migratory pathway, also includes 20 Important Bird Areas. “You have habitat for everything from Bicknell’s thrushes and blackpoll warblers all the way down to hooded warblers and cerulean warblers,” says Patrick Comins, Audubon Connecticut’s director of bird conservation and chair of the Friends of Conte, a coalition that helped develop the Blueways concept. Says Comins, “Nowhere else in America are there so many people living within such a beautiful and natural landscape.”
This article originally ran in the November-December 2012 issue as, "True Blue."