Designated: May 8, 2008
Location: The Eightmile River flows through a 62 square-mile rural and pristine watershed in the towns of Salem, East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut. The Eightmile joins the Connecticut River at Hamburg Cove, just eight miles upriver from the Long Island Sound. 25.3 miles of the Eightmile River and significant tributaries are designated as Wild & Scenic.
Outstanding Resources: Watershed hydrology, water quality, geology, unique species and natural communities, watershed ecosystem, and the cultural landscape.
Management Approach: A partnership between the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee and the National Park Service is charged with implementing the Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan. The locally led Coordinating Committee is comprised of members appointed by local municipalities and land trusts as well as members from The Nature Conservancy, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the National Park Service.
Overview: With over 150 miles of pristine rivers and streams and 62 square miles of relatively undeveloped rural land, the Eightmile River Watershed is an exceptional natural and cultural resource. The watershed contains large areas of unfragmented habitat, an array of rare and diverse wildlife, scenic vistas, high water quality, unimpeded stream flow, and significant cultural features. Most notable is that the overall Eightmile River Watershed ecosystem is healthy and intact throughout virtually all of its range.
The landscape of the watershed is characterized as one of low rolling hills and ridges separated by numerous small, narrow drainage corridors and hollows, and in places broader valleys and basins. Approximately 90% of the watershed lies in roughly equal portions within the three communities of East Haddam, Lyme and Salem, with the remaining 10% evenly split within Colchester and East Lyme.
With over 83% of the watershed in forest, wetland or water, the Eightmile hosts a rich diversity of natural communities and rare and significant plant and animal species. Comprised primarily oak-hickory and maple-ash vegetative communities, the forests of the Eightmile provide resource requirements for a multitude of significant bird, mammal and insect species.
The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan was created as a part of the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Study to establish recommended tools and strategies for ensuring the watershed ecosystem is protected and enhanced for generations to come. The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan is a non-regulatory document, reflecting a partnership where local, state and federal interests all voluntarily agree to participate in its implementation and the realization of its purpose and goals.