State renames natural preserve to honor Niering

From SOURCE, December 18, 2000

December 4, 2000

Waterford, CT - Governor John G. Rowland today renamed the Goshen Cove Natural Area Preserve in Waterford in honor of Dr. William A. Niering. A long-time resident of Gales Ferry, Dr. Niering was a renowned educator, scientist, and conservationist who worked tirelessly to preserve Connecticut’s natural heritage. Dr. Niering, who passed away in August 1999 at age 75, is best known for his wetlands expertise and career as a professor and researcher at Connecticut College in NewLondon, where he joined the faculty in 1952.

"Dedicating a Natural Area Preserve in Dr. Niering’s honor is a fitting tribute to a man whose life and work embodied the very principles of environmental stewardship. His commitment and dedication have gone a long way towards furthering the appreciation and protection of our surroundings," said Governor John G. Rowland. "For years to come, visitors to the Dr. William A. Niering Natural Area Preserve will have the opportunity to appreciate this special place and enjoy the wildlife and scenery that inspired much of his work."

To honor Dr. Niering’s commitment to natural resource protection and his achievements as an educator and scientist, Governor Rowland is renaming the Goshen Cove Natural Area Preserve in his memory. Goshen Cove became a regular stop for Dr. Niering and his students in the 1990’s. The site combined several of his favorite habitat types, most notably tidal wetlands and grasslands. He spent many hours cataloging the plants, describing the natural communities, and providing the DEP with an approach to maintaining coastal grasslands.

Dr. Niering was internationally known for his wetlands research. Author of a handful of books on the role wetlands play in the environment, Dr. Niering worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in the development of the state’s tidal wetlands restoration program. His wetlands research also helped to lay the groundwork forpassage of Connecticut’s Tidal Wetlands Act of 1969.

"Dr. Niering’s work was instrumental in the development of a comprehensive program to protect and restore tidal wetlands in Connecticut," said DEP Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque, Jr. "Thanks to his efforts, the vital role wetlands play in the overall health of our environment has been recognized world-wide and have encouraged the
steps now taken to preserve them. In addition to teaching all of us about the importance of wetlands, Dr. Niering demonstrated an unwavering commitment to understanding nature and respecting our place in it."

Added Connecticut College Professor of Botany R. Scott Warren: "Bill Niering was an inspired and inspiring teacher, a scientist of unusual vision and breadth and a scholar whose research and writing gave powerful credibility to his work in the field of conservation. He believed that a key obligation of the human condition was to be a good steward to our planet, caring for the natural world with respect, dignity and a great deal of humility. The positions he took and the work he did on conservation issues were particularly effective because his passion was informed by an impressive knowledge of the ecological literature and given unassailable credibility by his own contributions to that body of learning."

A great deal of Dr. Niering’s wetland research occurred during his 47 years as the Lucretia L. Allyn Professor of Botany at Connecticut College where he was the director of the Connecticut College Arboretum. Dr. Niering introduced his students to their surroundings using eastern Connecticut as his classroom. Settings such as Barn Island in Stonington and Goshen Cove in Waterford were frequently used by Dr. Niering to explain how natural systems work together and the importance of protecting diverse habitats such as tidal wetlands and grasslands. Dr. Niering’s efforts to further environmental awareness in his students led to the creation of one of the first college-level course in environmental studies nationwide at Connecticut College after the first Earth Day in 1970.

The newly renamed Dr. William A. Niering Natural Area Preserve (Goshen Cove was designated as a Natural Area Preserve by Governor Rowland in April 1999) consists of approximately 80 acres along Long Island Sound adjacent to Harkness Memorial State Park. Among the natural features are open grassland that slopes to a large tidal cove and salt marsh, a coastal dune and sandy beach. This area contains a broad array of distinct coastal communities and unique physical features.

The DEP has commissioned a sculptor to select a memorial rock and carve the following inscription on the rock: "A teacher, scientist and ardent conservationist, Dr. Niering truly lived his strong convictions. He inspired generations of students, colleagues and friends to live as stewards of the environment. The Goshen Cove Ecosystem is dedicated in his honor in recognition of his tireless and exceptional efforts to preserve Connecticut’s natural heritage."

The memorial rock will be permanently placed at the Dr. William A. Niering Natural Area Preserve on Goshen Cove to commemorate the designation and inform future visitors as to Dr. Niering’s commitment and dedication to better understanding and preserving the workings of natural systems.