MERIDEN — Residents came face-to-face with a bald eagle and state biologists spoke about the importance of preserving the river at a ribbon cutting Sunday for the Quinnipiac River Water Trail.
The water trail, which also runs through Southington and Cheshire, features 14 markers with information about animals along the river.
“That trail allows people to reconnect with nature,” said Peter Picone, a state wildlife biologist and a member of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association. “It gives you an opportunity to learn about our natural environment.”
“What’s most rewarding for me is the energy put into this,” said QRWA President David James. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the association’s Oregon Road building.
Picone, who grew up along the river, said efforts to rehabilitate the river have helped restore fish vital to ecosystems from Long Island Sound to New Britain. Fish that migrate up the river from Long Island Sound bring nutrients from the ocean inland, sustaining birds and insects.
The watershed association and DEEP have collaborated to remove dams or construct fishways to allow the fish to move upstream.
“Once you get out there, you will understand the importance of having access to a river like this,” said Susanne Simone, a member of the Cheshire Land Trust, which works to keep the five miles of river through Cheshire clear.
“We’ve seen less and less debris which needs to be pulled out of the river,” she said.
“We’ve just received such incredible support from the communities down here,” said Lauren Bennett, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service. “You’re changing the story of the entire ecosystem.”
With the new water trail, Bennett said kids can now grow up “knowing what it’s like floating down a river (and) catching a fish.”
During the ceremony, musician Bruce Bruchstrich played a folksy song he wrote about the river.
“I hope you’ll see the beauty of the river and why we want to keep it that way,” he sang while strumming a ukulele. “Be sure to listen to the river, there’s rhythm in its flow.”