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Report shows Connecticut’s environment has improved, but there’s still work to do

The Bald Eagle is one of the birds that has returned to Connecticut after nearing extinction in the 1970's due to DDT.
Charlie Neibergall
The Bald Eagle is one of the birds that has returned to Connecticut after nearing extinction in the 1970's due to DDT.

Connecticut’s overall environment has improved in the last 10 years, according to a reportfrom the state’s Council on Environmental Quality.

The state council is required to compile a report for the governor every year.

It includes information from multiple agencies and provides a wide look at the overall picture of environmental health.

Keith Ainsworth is the acting chair of the council. He said this year’s main takeaway is that Connecticut residents have the power to slow climate change in their state.

“Individuals can actually take action and have an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is conserving electricity and driving less and reducing waste, and increasing recycling,” Ainsworth said.

One of the noteworthy findings was a significant increase in Bald Eagles and Ospreys. The animals have made a comeback in Connecticut since DDT, an insecticide, was federally banned in the 1970’s.

Ainsworth said there is still time for the state to reverse other environmental-related damage.

“I think the lesson that we determined is that there are ways to reverse the harms for things that we release," Ainsworth said. "If we know that something is a negative influence, if we remove that influence, nature often has the ability to rebound.”

According to the report, average and maximum temperatures in Connecticut are increasing.

Ainsworth adds the higher temperatures are impacting plants and animals — but animals, like songbirds, are able to migrate faster.

“The songbirds are moving north faster to go with the warmer weather, but plants don't move as fast as animals,” Ainsworth said. “And so the trees and the plants they feed on when they're breeding aren't migrating north fast enough.”

That’s leading to lower songbird counts nationally.

Ainsworth said the state’s next step should be to encourage public transportation and electric vehicle use.

However, even with the push to go electric, Connecticut will still have to grapple with air pollution from the west.

“Most of our challenge there is coming from outside from the west, from our West, because that's where our weather comes from,” Ainsworth said. “It goes from west to east.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.