Conservation & Environment Commission



1 - Introduction

2 - Physical Landscape Features

3 - Water Resources

4 - Biological Communities

5 - Land-Use

6 - Recreation & Open Space

7 - Environmental Problems




I: Animal Species List

II: Rare and Endangered Species List

III: Introduced & Invasive Species List

IV: Recreation & Open Space

V: Contact Information

List of Figures

List of Tables

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Natural Resources Inventory for the Town of Branford


Alluvium -- materials transported and deposited by the movement of water. Generally not used to describe sediments in lakes and seas.

Amphibole - a mineral group composed of varying amounts of magnesium, iron, aluminum (Al), calcium and sodium in a (SiAl4)O11(OH)2 base.

Arkose -- sedimentary rock composed of eroded igneous rock of granular texture that has been cemented together.

Basalt -- an extrusive (reaches the surface to cool) rock of volcanic origin. It is fine grained, dark colored igneous rock composed primarily of calcic (calcium) plagioclase pyroxene.

Brackish -- referring to conditions where salts range from 1 part per thousand (ppt) to about 18 ppt; between fresh and salt water

Channelization -- using bulkheads, armor or other engineering practices to maintain a channel in a river or harbor in one specific position. Eliminates natural meandering processes.

Chloride -- an atom of salt that can be used to determine saline conditions in water and soils.

Conglomerate -- a naturally occurring sedimentary rock made by the cementing of pebbles, gravel and/or sands.

Diabase -- an igneous rock of basaltic composition characterized by an ophitic structure.

Fault line -- a fracture line or zone that reaches the surface where there has been parallel displacement along the fracture due to tectonic activity.

Fault line scarp -- a fault line that has been acted on by the processes of erosion. Change is due to erosion rather than direct tectonic activity.

Fetch (sometimes referred to as fetch length) -- distance that wind can travel uninterrupted over water in a single direction. The longer the fetch, the greater the potential for waves.

Floodplain -- area along a river or stream that regularly floods. Much of the sediment is derived from the river itself (fluvial)

Floodway -- a term similar to floodplain although has been used to denote the path of floodwaters particularly when the floodplain has been developed and is no longer evident.

Fluvial -- of or pertaining to rivers.

Fragipan (or Hardpan) -- a hard impervious layer typically made from the downward translocation of clays in soil profiles. Water movement vertically across such a barrier is limited.

Freshwater -- water with less than 1 ppt of salt. Does not denote water quality.

Friable -- a term for soil structure that denotes a poorly compacted soil that crumbles easily due to partially decomposed organic matter.

Glacial erratic -- large boulders and rocks carried across the landscape by ice. Some of this material could have it source hundreds of miles away.

Glacial outwash -- material deposited on the landscape and redistributed as the glacier melts and recedes.

Glacial till -- see Till.

Gneiss -- a course-grained layered rock that alternates between granular minerals and schistose minerals.

Granite -- an igneous rock that consists of feldspar and quartz.

Hornblende -- a type of amphibole.

Hydrograph -- a graphic representation of water flows through a basin showing stage, flow, velocity and other properties of water with respect to time.

Igneous rock -- rock of volcanic origin that forms from the cooling of magma. Includes basalts.

Inland wetland -- all non-tidal wetlands and watercourses of the State of Connecticut.

Loam -- a soil composed of sand, silt, clay and organic material. Typically the upper soil layers that best support growing plants (generically termed topspoil).

Metamorphic rock -- rock composed of sedimentary and igneous rocks that have been altered by temperature, pressure and chemistry. Includes gneiss and schist rocks.

Mica -- a mineral group composed of phyllosilicates (varying amounts of potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, aluminum in Si4O10 base) with sheet-like structure and characterized by almost perfect basal cleavage.

Non-point source pollution -- pollution that does not come from a single outlet source. Lawn fertilizer traveling down a storm drain is a classic example.

Ophitic -- a term that is applied to texture of a diabase where hedral-shaped crystals are imbedded in a base of augite (a rock in the mineral group pyroxene)

Panne -- a small depression on a marsh that accumulates salts as sea water evaporates. The increase in salinity and reductions in oxygen combine to change the vegetation that can colonize these areas.

Peat -- a type of substrate that is dominated by partially decomposed organic matter accumulating in wet places.

Pedon -- the soil "footprint" is a term that refers to the layering of the soil. As soils mature and new soils are deposited, the soil layers take on distinct characteristics in layers that can be used to identify soil types. Young or disturbed soils have fewer pedons.

Plagioclase -- a mineral group composed of varying amounts of sodium, calcium, aluminum and silica (Si) in a Si2O8 base. One of the most common rock-forming mineral types.

Point source pollution -- pollution from a single identifiable source. An outfall pipe from a factory is a classic example.

Potable -- water (or liquid) suitable for human consumption.

Pyroxene -- a mineral group composed of varying amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and aluminum in a silica oxide (Si2O6) base

Saltwater -- water with salts at or near the strength of sea water and generally above18 parts per thousand, but more typically about 25 ppt.

Sandstone -- a sedimentary rock composed of sands. This rock is erode relatively easily.

Schist -- a metamorphic rock with a foliated structure split up in thin irregular plates. Can range in particle size from clay (shale) to more coarse-grained rocks, the latter typically containing parallel orientation of micaceous (mica) minerals.

Sea level rise -- the relative increase in water levels along the coast. Includes the addition of meltwater and increases in ocean volume due to temperature changes relative to changes in position and elevation of landmasses.

Secondary growth forest -- a reforested site that has repeatedly been denuded of trees. Typically refers to areas that have been farmed in the past and is now recovering a woody habitat. Plant community structure is often changed forever.

Sedimentary rock -- rock formed from the erosion, deposition and compaction of soil types (clay and silt - shale or mudstones; sand -- sandstone, arkose).

Shale -- a sedimentary rock formed from the accumulation of clays and silts and lain down in thin regular plates.

Tidal -- of or pertaining to tides. In Branford these occur once every 12 hours 54 minutes and are defined by spring (highest and lowest) and neap (mid) tides every two weeks.

Tidal range -- The average difference between high tide and low tide.

Till -- a stiff clay full of stones of varying size. Is used today to denote non-sorted clays, silts and sands carried by glaciers and deposited on the landscape during retreat (glacial till).

Trap rock -- a common name given to rock of volcanic origin that is often mined for construction projects (e.g., road bedding). It typically includes basalt and/or diabase

Tributary -- a branch of a large river

Udorthents -- soils that have been disturbed by human activity. They are typically mixed soils imported or amended for construction activities. They are young and do not exhibit many of the pedons associated with natural soil profiles.

Understory -- refers to the plant community that typically lives under the canopy of trees.

Vernal pool -- an area that is wet only part of the year, typically during the spring season. It is an important habitat for reproduction in many reptiles and amphibians.

Water -- refers to both aquatic and marine resources. The following designations are used to denote differences in marine resources. Colors noted below are a general classification and does not denote water quality or actual color, rather, it is used by coastal scientists to delineate a general area within the marine environment.

Blue-water -- denotes deeper waters of the Long Island Sound
Gray-water -- denotes shallow waters of the Long Island Sound, harbors and bays
Brown-water -- denotes waters in the rivers, estuaries and marshes.

Watershed -- the area that encompasses a stream or river that drains into it and supplies its water. It is usually defined by topography.

Water quality -- denotes the amount of chemicals, pollutants and nutrients in water above natural levels.

Wave action -- energy caused by the movement of waves against the shore. It depends of wind speed, fetch and direction and is often used as a way of determining the potential for erosion.