Natural resource planning for terrace escarpment areas of Hartford County, Connecticut

Hoskins, Douglas G. III
Richard Little
Department of Environmental Studies
Terrace escarpments are unique landforms comprising approximately four percent of Hartford County’s land area. Due to their unconsolidated nature, steep slopes, and the presence of silts and clays, terrace escarpments can easily become unstable when development activities occur on or near this landform. Increased stormwater runoff, concentrated stormwater flows and increased overburden weight can all act to create excessive slope erosion or slope failure. Soil erosion in terrace escarpment areas creates special concerns for the resource management professional because of the threat of substantial gully erosion or mass-movement of land. Terrace escarpments exist today due to the action of glaciers thousands of years ago. Because of the environmental conditions present during their formation, escarpments are closely associated with inland or freshwater wetlands and watercourse. Not only has soil erosion and slope failure on terrace escarpments severely impacted Hartford County’s inland wetland resources, it has also resulted in damage to personal property and public infrastructure. Because of these past and present impacts as well as the threat of future ones, a comprehensive planning approach was applied to this issue. In this study, the unique characteristics of the terrace escarpment landform are presented as well as a review of slope process including mass movement and soil erosion. As a result of a review of 13 impacted summary of existing regulations in Connecticut and throughout the United States, it was determined that a new and unique regulatory approach was needed. A model unconsolidated slope development regulation is included.

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