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.
The Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Coordinating Committee and the National Park Service are 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.
The Eightmile River Watershed Management Plan was created as a part of the Eightmile River Wild and 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.
May 8, 2008. Segments of the main stem and specified tributaries of the Eightmile River including:
- The entire 10.8-mile segment of the main stem, starting at its confluence with Lake Hayward Brook to its confluence with the Connecticut River at the mouth of Hamburg Cove.
- The 8.0-mile segment of the East Branch of the Eightmile River starting at Witch Meadow Road to its confluence with the main stem of the Eightmile River.
- The 3.9-mile segment of Harris Brook starting with the confluence of an unnamed stream lying 0.74 miles due east of the intersection of Hartford Road (State Route 85) and Round Hill Road to its confluence with the East Branch of the Eightmile River.
- The 1.9-mile segment of Beaver Brook starting at its confluence with Cedar Pond Brook to its confluence with the main stem of the Eightmile River.
- The 0.7-mile segment of Falls Brook from its confluence with Tisdale Brook to its confluence with the main stem of the Eightmile River at Hamburg Cove.
The watershed remains a rural place, with small settlements, winding roads, and trails. Nearly 300 archaeological and historic architectural sites have been identified for the towns and villages of the Eightmile River watershed, 23 of these are located near the Eightmile River main stem and the East Branch.
The Eightmile River Watershed ecosystem reflects the sum of the many interacting ecological features found throughout the watershed. Several qualities of the landscape contribute to the ecological diversity. One is the high percentage of forested habitat in the Eightmile River (80%). The absence of flood control structures allows streams within the watershed to host in abundance various riparian communities that are dependent upon periodic flooding and natural scouring.
The unusual alignment of bedrock in the watershed creates a rectangular or “blocky” local topography that is unusual in Connecticut and the region. The watershed’s geology plays a critical role in overall watershed quality, affecting resources from hydrology to biodiversity to the cultural landscape. The combination of an exceptional assemblage of bedrock, atypical local topography, and exemplary glacial evidence remains all provide a distinct representation of geology in Connecticut.
Present in the watershed are over 150 plant and animal species of high conservation value and nearly 100 significant natural communities. The quantity of “at-risk” plant and animal species known from the Eightmile River watershed is substantial. A summary of species considered to be ‘rare’, ‘threatened’, or ‘endangered’, in a state, regional, and/or global context, in addition to species that have been identified as ‘of special concern’ shows a total of 155 such species in the watershed.