Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions  
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Connecticut Association of Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commissions

46th Annual Meeting & Environmental Conference
Celebrating Connecticut's Conservation Commissions!

Our 2023 annual conference was held November 11, 2023 at the newly constructed Bristol Event Center!



James O’Donnell, PhD, Professor of Marine Sciences and Executive Director, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA)

"Climate Change in Connecticut
(and what we’re doing about it)"

The climate of the earth is changing. Even if global greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced soon, the world will be warmer, the ocean deeper, storm winds stronger, and high rainfall events will be more intense. Since the patterns of development and the extensive infrastructure of Connecticut didn’t anticipate these conditions, much is at risk. Projecting likely future condition in Connecticut is central to establishing new design criteria for all infrastructure in 2050 and 2100. That information underpins the assessment of what is most at risk and the development of viable adaptation options. These are the science and engineering challenges CIRCA has undertaken. Assisting people and governments in choosing whether to act, what adaptation approaches to employ, what projects are most urgent, and how to pay for them, are challenges of public policy, law, and economics. Through extensive engagement, and with the assistance of local, state, and federal government staff, the Resilience Connecticut project has identified and analyzed more than one hundred projects that climate change has created or exacerbated in Connecticut, and that towns would like help in addressing. Professor O’Donnell will summarize the changes that we expect, and the process we have used to create a “Pipeline” of Projects. He will illustrate the key components of the approach by discussing some specific projects. Professor O’Donnell will conclude with a summary of important lessons about effective adaptation planning and highlight some outstanding issues that need attention.

Jim O’Donnell is a physical oceanographer. He studies the physical processes that determine the circulation and transport of materials in the coastal ocean. He earned a BSc. (Hons) in Applied Physics from Strathclyde University in Scotland, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Delaware. After two years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, England, he joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut in 1987 and was appointed Professor in 1999. He was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2009 and was appointed to be Executive Director of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) in 2014.

2023 CACIWC Keynote Presentation

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Thank you to our sponsors!

Aquarion Water   Great Horned Owl ($500-$999)
Aquarion Water
Connecticut Conservation Districts Barred Owl ($250-$499)
Connecticut Association of Conservation Districts
Ernst Seeds 
Alan J. Siniscalchi, CACIWC
Halloran Sage Screech Owl ($100-$249)
Janet P. Brooks, Attorney at Law, LLC
Connecticut Land Conservation Council
Halloran Sage
Marla Butts, Former CACIWC
Maureen FitzGerald, CACIWC
Maria Kayne, CACIWC
Alicia Mozian, CACIWC


Conference Schedule & Workshop Descriptions: (Four Tracks, Three Sessions, 12 Workshops):

  Session 1
10:15-11:15 AM
Session 2
11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Session 3
2:00-3:15 PM

Track A. Assessing & preserving our forests, wetlands, & their inhabitants

Workshop A1

Workshop A2

Workshop A3

Track B. IWWA evaluation of applications, training, & wetlands law

Workshop B1

Workshop B2

Workshop B3

Track C. Climate impact, increasing resiliency, and the role of CT conservation commissions 

Workshop C1

Workshop C2

Workshop C3

Track D. Helping our commissions evaluate and respond to evolving issues

Workshop D1

Workshop D2

Workshop D3


Session 1 (10:15-11:15 AM):

A1. “Morticulture: The Ecological Importance of Old & Dead Trees"
Margery C. B. Winters, Chair, Simsbury Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, President, Simsbury Land Trust & Assistant Director, Roaring Brook Nature Center
Once considered a wasted resource and a hazard in forest landscapes, dead trees, and logs are now known to be valuable and essential parts of a healthy, mature forest ecosystem. In addition to providing essential habitat and food for many terrestrial and aquatic species, these senescing trees serve as a vital source of soil moisture, soil carbon, and nutrients for the entire forest. The importance and benefits of allowing our existing older and “middle-aged” forests to reach their full ecological potential and develop into a forest that has its full complement of environmental services, a process called proforestation, will also be discussed.

2023 CACIWC Workshop A1 Presentation

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 B1. “Advanced Topics* in Wetlands Enforcement”
Janet Brooks, Attorney at Law, LLC with Mark Branse, Halloran & Sage, LLP, and Darcy Winther, State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), as moderator
Let’s discuss how you (some of you) are using Notices of Violation incorrectly and how to issue an order when you don’t know the remediation that is required to correct the violation. We’ll use the template that I developed and distributed through The Habitat. Let’s have a wide-ranging approach to enforcement from incremental steps using your “soft” power to formal legally defined actions (orders + lawsuits). Are you jumping over steps and complicating your life? And what’s your civility quotient? (How civil are you to those who appear before you?) 

*No prerequisites required. You will all be ready for advanced enforcement issues after attending this workshop.

2023 CACIWC Workshop B1 Presentation

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C1 “Sustainable CT: Supporting and Celebrating Sustainability Initiatives in Connecticut Communities”
Jessica LeClair, Senior Program Director, Sustainable CT
Sustainable CT is a statewide municipal certification program that inspires and supports communities to become more vibrant, connected, healthy, and resilient. The workshop session will provide an overview of Sustainable CT, including the new Climate Leader Designation. The Climate Leader Designation celebrates municipalities that are reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and preparing their communities for the impacts of climate change. The workshop will focus on the how Connecticut Commissions can use the Sustainable CT framework as a resource to accomplish their commission goals, and help commissioners understand how to access funding and support for sustainability projects through Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund.  

2023 CACIWC Workshop C1 Presentation

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D1. “The Benefits of Preserving Greenways and Enhancing Outdoor Recreation”
Kimberly Bradley, CT Trails and Greenways Program Coordinator, State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)
Trails and greenways positively impact individuals and improve communities by providing not only recreation and transportation opportunities, but also by influencing economic and community development. The DEEP Connecticut Trails and Greenways Program provides opportunities for collaboration, funding, and education in coordination with the Connecticut Greenways Council. DEEP staff will provide an overview of the program and an opportunity to learn how DEEP works with municipalities to enhance outdoor recreation across the State of Connecticut. The grant application process will also be reviewed. Bring your questions, concepts, and points of discussion as we hit the trails!

2023 CACIWC Workshop D1 Presentation

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Session 2 (11:30 AM-12:30 PM):

A2. The Connecticut State Wildlife Action Plan: A Blueprint for Collaborative Conservation”
Brian Hess, Acting Director, Wildlife Division, State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)
Connecticut has begun the process of revising its State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) ahead of the 2025 due date. SWAPs identify vulnerable species and habitats, threats affecting those species and habitats, and actions to address those threats. The plan has roles for organizations of all sizes and serves as a hub for collaborative conservation statewide. A major goal of the 2025 revision is to produce a plan that is more useful, relevant, and implementable by a wider range of conservation partners. Learn about our current SWAP, the revision process, how the document can help your work, and how to help make the 2025 SWAP the best yet.

2023 CACIWC Workshop A2 Presentation 

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B2. “2023 Wetlands Law & Regulations Update with Question & Answer Session”
Mark Branse, Halloran & Sage, LLP Janet Brooks, Attorney at Law, LLC with Darcy Winther, State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), as moderator
These wetlands attorneys have been brought back again by popular demand to keep you current with the law. Bring your questions and your suggestions of improvements to the Connecticut Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act (IWWA) now that we have celebrated the Act’s 50th Anniversary. There is much to discuss! Come ready to pose questions as you try to stump the attorneys!

C2. “Conservation Commissions and Climate Resilience”
Louanne Cooley and Kayla Vargas from the CT Institute of Resilience and Climate Adaptation (UConn CIRCA) & Michael Stankov, Environmental Planner/Inland Wetlands Agent, Town of Mansfield
Climate change has created challenges for managing public natural resources. Conservation commissions should consider the effect of climate change on natural resources and the solutions these resources provide, when undertaking their duties of protecting and preserving biological diversity and natural resources. Conservation Commissions can act to increase municipal climate resiliency to impacts like flooding, heat, and drought by protecting present and future natural resources and the ecosystem services they provide. We will discuss ways Conservation Commissions can act within their legal authority and in concert with other town, regional, and state boards, commissions, and agencies to promote climate resilience and nature-based solutions.

2023 CACIWC Workshop C2 Presentation

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D2. “Solutions to the Food Waste Crisis in Connecticut”
Sherill Baldwin, Sustainable Materials Management Environmental Analyst, State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and Pippa Bell Ader of Sustainable Westport
Learn about food waste, including how municipalities and DEEP are responding with innovative pilots, programs, and other initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle the organic portion of our municipal solid waste. Sherill Baldwin of DEEP will provide an overview of the challenges, programs the state is implementing with municipalities and food waste prevention and food recovery policy ideas. Pippa Bell Ader of Sustainable Westport, a non-profit, will discuss how Westport’s voluntary food scrap recycling program got started, progress made, challenges and ideas for the future.

2023 CACIWC Workshop D2a Presentation - Baldwin

2023 CACIWC Workshop D2b Presentation - Bell 

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Session 3 (2:00 AM-3:15 PM):

A3. “Conserving amphibian and reptile diversity – a collective responsibility”
Hank Gruner, Herpetologist, and member of the Andover Conservation Commission & Dennis Quinn, owner of Quinn Ecological, LLC
Responding to rapidly changing climatic conditions is a significant challenge facing populations of many amphibians and reptiles. Low dispersal capabilities, coupled with an increasingly fragmented landscape, limits the capacity of populations to rearrange themselves in response to climatic changes that impact habitat suitability. Although some species and/or populations may demonstrate the ability to locally adapt to changing conditions, this remains far from certain. This session will provide an update on the status of Connecticut’s “herps” and illustrate the critical role municipal commissions can play in fostering climate change resiliency for Connecticut’s herpetofauna. 

Hank Gruner and Dennis Quinn are contributing authors on the recent publication, Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut, published by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

2023 CACIWC Workshop A3 Presentation

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B3. “Stormwater Management in Connecticut: An update on efforts to reduce impacts and enhance resiliency”
Dave Dickson, Extension Educator & Director, UConn CLEAR; & Mary Looney, Municipal Stormwater Educator, UConn CLEAR

The State of Connecticut has been working to shift how we manage stormwater in order to help reduce the water quality and quantity impacts of increased stormwater runoff. Educators for UConn’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) will provide an update on the status of these efforts, including the MS4 and other regulatory permits; a new Stormwater Quality Manual; and the advent of stormwater utilities.

2023 CACIWC Workshop B3 Presentation

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C3. “The CT Natural Diversity Database: What We Do and an Introduction to Our New Tools”
Robin S. Blum, Supervising Wildlife Biologist, Natural Diversity Data Base (NDDB), Wildlife Division, State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)
The Natural Diversity Database (NDDB) is the repository for data related to Connecticut’s Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species. We provide a variety of public services, including environmental reviews of projects that may impact Connecticut’s listed species. These data are an essential component of any Natural Resource Inventory (NRI). This presentation will offer a description of the program and its services, along with providing a demonstration of our new online application portal.

 2023 CACIWC Workshop C3 Presentation

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D3. “GPS Mapping Using the Avenza Maps App”
Emily Wilson, Geospatial Educator with UConn Extension and CLEAR, and the UConn CT Trails Program Adelheid Koepfer, UConn CT Trails Program (CT Trail Census and CT Trail Finder)
The Avenza Maps smartphone app checks all the boxes when it comes to the mapping of trails, important habitat areas, and other areas surveys requiring GPS. It is free, allows for collection of lines and points at the same time using tracking, and easily adds smartphone photos as points on the map. And, directly from the app on an iOS or android phone, the data can be saved to a cloud drive (Google drive, OneDrive, etc.) or emailed to yourself or a GIS friend. The workshop will include a demo of the app and how it works for trail mapping, along with example uses of the collected data including viewing on google earth, editing in QGIS, and Emily’s personal favorite, sending it over for inclusion in CT Trail Finder!

2023 CACIWC Workshop D3 Presentation

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Schedule for the Day

Registration & Breakfast
8:00 – 8:45 am

Welcome & Business Mtg.
8:45 – 9:00 am

Keynote Speaker
9:00 – 10:00 am

Break 1
10:00 – 10:15 am

Session 1 Workshops
10:15 – 11:15 am

Break 2
11:15 – 11:30 am

Session 2 Workshops
11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Break 3
12:30 – 12:45 pm

12:45 – 1:45 pm

Break 4 1:45 – 2:00 pm
Session 3 Workshops
2:00 – 3:15 pm
End of Conference



and promote your brand to an audience of passionate conservation/wetland professionals:

SPONSOR the Annual Meeting (many sponsor tiers and benefits)

EXHIBIT at the Annual Meeting (make an impression throughout the day — reduced rates for NON-PROFITS!)

 ADVERTISE in the Annual Report (distributed the day of the Annual Meeting then posted online)

For information on our Annual Meeting, please email us at:


Annual Report and Conference Brochure


Continuing Education Credits 

  • SWS Recertification: 0.25 points (self-reported

  • CT DEEP Pesticide Recertification: 1 Hr. for Categories 2 (Forest Prest Control) and 3D (Arborist) for workshop A1

  • CT DEEP Forest Practitioner: Up to 1.5 CEUs for Keynote and attendance at workshops in three sessions (any workshop except Track D

  • AICP: Up to 4.25 CM Credits (self-reported): Keynote 1 CM; Session 1, 1 CM; Session 2, 2 CM; Session 3, 1.25 CM

  • CT-licensed Landscape Architects: Subject matter appropriate for up to 4.25 continuing education credit hours (self-reported)


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