Local environmentalists concerned about the climate at the top

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STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — When Superstorm Sandy hit Dodge Paddock it was devastated. The sea wall was knocked down, the area was completely flooded, and the marsh became infested with mosquitos.

Members of the Avalonia Land Conservancy were able to restore it but say they couldn’t have done it without state and federal help.

A path leading to the marsh was cut by DEEP to allow water to wash through the marsh.

“Water comes in and water goes out and we don’t get mosquitos in the summertime so it works,” says Beth Sullivan a volunteer with the Conservancy. She was able to get help from DEEP and Sea Grant at UConn’s Avery Point to restore Dodge Paddock in Stonington Borough and make it more resilient to future storms.

“If I didn’t have the resources of people like Sea Grant and DEEP to mentor me and guide me and give me information and support I couldn’t do this,” said Sullivan.

Sea Grant which gets much of its funding through NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could be cut completely in the president’s proposed budget. $73 million for the 33 Sea Grant programs could be eliminated along with 13 staff at Avery Point.

“Well it could be devastating for us but we’re more concerned about the people that we’ve had a long term working relationship with,” said Nancy Balcom, Associate Director of Sea Grant at Avery Point.

People like those in the shellfish industry or with the Avalonia Land Conservancy who needed help to save the historic site which is still a work in progress.

“By not having a real sense of longevity you worry that the things you have in place are not going to be able to move forward to their resolution,” said Balcom.

Sea Grant works closely with DEEP and the EPA which are also facing cuts.

“I just can’t imagine what these cuts are going to mean for big things as well as little things,” said Sullivan.

Dodge Paddock is the last green open space in the Stonington Borough.

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