Connecticut Sea Grant has joined 16 historic and cultural organizations that have signed on as stakeholders in the Thames River Heritage Park.
Comprised of 20 museums, historic houses, parks, forts and other attractions on the Groton and New London sides of the Thames River, the park connects the various independent sites through a common organization with a website, guides and water taxi to tell the story of 400 years of history. A state park without boundaries, it includes national sites such as the Submarine Force Museum and the Coast Guard Academy as well as Revolutionary War-era homes and battlegrounds and cultural attractions such as the Garde Arts Center and Lyman Allyn Museum.
Among the stakeholder organizations, Connecticut Sea Grant is unique as the only one focusing on the coastal environment, supporting research and a healthy marine economy. The Stakeholder Agreement between Sea Grant and the park was approved by the park’s Board of Directors this fall.
“Joining the Thames River Heritage Park as a partner organization is a prime opportunity to interact with our neighbors, some more focused on historic and cultural aspects of the Thames River, and share science-based information and tools to help Connecticut residents and communities balance diverse coastal and marine interests and adapt to changing conditions,” said Sylvain De Guise, director of
Connecticut Sea Grant.
Under the Stakeholder Agreement, Sea Grant will participate in park planning, events and initiatives, share information about events and provide links to the park website on its homepage. Judy Benson, communications coordinator at Sea Grant, joined the park board this summer for a three-year term. The partnership agreement came about after Sea Grant and the park successfully collaborated on three Thames River Quest hikes on Connecticut Trails Day last June that drew more than 150 participants.
Amy Perry, executive director of the park, said the addition of Sea Grant as a Stakeholder will allow both organizations to broaden their outreach and support each other’s missions.
“Connecticut Sea Grant’s stewardship of our marine and coastal environments directly aligns and supports the Thames River Heritage Park’s mission of developing, promoting, coordinating and preserving this shoreline state park,” she said. “With a different focus than that of our cultural and historic partners, Connecticut Sea Grant will provide a unique perspective on the integral role the Thames River has and will continue to play for those who live and visit here. As we grow visitorship to the park, we hope to provide Connecticut Sea Grant a platform for building awareness and educating the public as a way of protecting our marine resources.”
Marian Galbraith, president of the park’s board, said Sea Grant and the heritage park have complementary missions.
“Thames River Heritage Park Foundation is proud to count Connecticut Sea Grant among its stakeholder organizations because it seeks to preserve, understand and educate the public about the marine resources which figure so heavily in the heritage of our region,” she said. “Our heritage is a marine heritage. Our past and our future are tied to the rich marine resources that surround us.”