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The interconnectedness of the watershed—and the urgency of our mission—never felt greater than after the flooding in Vermont and New Hampshire in July 2023—explored in the “From the Publisher” column in the Fall 2023 issue. The damage was great in the upper watershed and the aftermath brought trees and stumps, sewage overflow, and other detritus into the Connecticut River and right down into Long Island Sound. Regional collaboration is critical to address issues of climate change and development and their impact on the watershed.

To that end, as announced in the Fall issue, estuary magazine is now a program of The Watershed Fund for the Connecticut River, which itself is a transformed organization. Founded in 1990 as the Center for International Management Education, the 501(c)(3)’s updated mission is to fund collaborative efforts in the watershed, to increase general awareness about the history, current progress and future of the watershed, and to encourage early career achievers entering the fields of environmental science and conservation. We’re excited to be part of this larger effort to bring many partners together to further support cleaner water, healthier habitats, and sustainable recreation in the Connecticut River Watershed. The Watershed Fund awarded its first annual Award for Early Career Achievement in Environmentalism in August.

Laying the Groundwork for Collaboration

One of The Watershed Fund’s first initiatives was a project to lay the groundwork for an ecological and stewardship collaborative for the watershed. With a $50,000 grant from the Endeavor Foundation in 2021, the project partnered with the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) and Audubon Vermont to develop the case for a river-based umbrella collaborative that has the potential to attract significant money to important projects that can only be done via greater collaboration among non-profits and government entities.

A story in the Summer 2022 issue, “Turn and Face the River: Building a Watershed Collaborative for Future Communities,” explained the project. “Everyone agrees that we face really critical challenges,” David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont said in that story. “Right now, we have a Swiss-cheese approach to land management; it’s too disconnected, and there is no larger strategy. This is a huge opportunity to make a difference.”

The study produced a plan and proposal to implement the collaborative. This next phase of the initiative is currently making its way through the grant funding process and we should be hearing soon.

Read the full story here:

Award for Early Career Achievement in Environmentalism

A second focus of The Watershed Fund is to encourage early career environmentalists and conservationists. Last August, estuary hosted one such young person, Madeline Lahm, for a talk for a group of estuary supporters at the Phoebe Noyes Library in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Maddie is a seagoing hydro-chemist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s National Science Agency. Though currently working far from home, Maddie hails from Lyme, Connecticut. She earned her Chemistry degree from the University of Maryland, studying in and around the Chesapeake Bay estuary with a focus on fluorescence and life cycle of organic material in the ocean. She currently lives in Hobart, Tasmania, and sails on the 300-foot RV Investigator performing hydrochemistry tests on expeditions with scientists from around the world. She will be part of an expedition to Antarctica in January 2024.

Maddy pointed out that investing in young scientists yields between 3 to 7 times the return on every dollar spent. That is one reason The Watershed Fund gave her its First Annual Award for Early Career Achievement in Environmentalism. A story about her will appear in the Winter issue. The Watershed Fund encourages estuary’s readers to submit nominations for future awards.

For more information about how to support The Watershed Fund, please contact the fund via

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