The Friends of Connetquot State Park Preserve was awarded a $41,000 matching grant from the Environmental Protection Fund’s Park and Trail Partnership grants program. The grant will be used to create an educational interpretive center at the preserve’s historic hatchery.
According to a press release from Friends of Connetquot, the group will have to raise an additional $8,250 in matching funds for a total of $49,250. The grant is one of 27 awards totaling $900,000 for organizations “dedicated to the stewardship and promotion of New York’s state parks and historic sites, trails and public lands.”
The new interpretive center will help to educate school groups and the public about the trout hatchery with hands-on dioramas and visuals depicting the life cycle of trout. The center will also educate guests on native brook trout propagation, fly fishing, fly tying, entomology, freshwater wetlands, hydrology, resiliency, climate change, natural sciences and invasive species. The interpretive center will overlook the hatchery troughs, where visitors can see fingerlings (small, young trout).
The trout hatchery at Connetquot State Park Preserve dates back to when the South Side Sportsmen’s Club still owned the property and established hatcheries for the propagation of trout. The first hatchery known as the Mill Preserves was established in 1871 along the west side of the river. In 1875, the East Brook Preserves was constructed, but the site was abandoned in 1899 and operations were consolidated at the location of today’s hatchery. Two species of trout can be found at the hatchery. Brook trout is the official fish of New York State and is native to the streams of the Northeast. Rainbow trout come from the West Coast and were first brought over in 1882. In addition to Connetquot State Park Preserve, trout from the hatchery are also used to stock the Nissequogue River at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, Belmont State Park for the Belmont Lake Spring Freshwater Fishing Clinic, and the Hempstead Lake State Park Fall Fishing Festival.
The Park and Trail Partnership Grants are administered by Parks & Trails New York, a statewide nonprofit organization, in partnership with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
The Friends of Connetquot is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the history of the Connetquot State Park Preserve. President Janet Soley wrote the grant for the interpretive center and has written other grants that have helped the organization receive funding for a new roof in a historic room. For more information about the group visit friendsofconnetquot.org.
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