Opinion: Protecting Remington Woods is the sustainable choice

An aerial view of Remington Woods, in Bridgeport and Stratford.

An aerial view of Remington Woods, in Bridgeport and Stratford.

Contributed photo

Climate change has affected our world in unprecedented ways: monster monsoons, climate change refugees, heat stress, frequent extreme weather events, species and habitat loss, and environmental degradation. Here in Connecticut, we have seen more extreme storms, historic droughts, warmer temperatures, flooding events and sea level rise. Americans are growing increasingly worried that extreme weather and other environmental problems will impact them.

Protecting and preserving forests and trees to sequester carbon is needed, alongside reducing emissions, to address the accelerating climate crisis and clean up our air. Right now, one corporation — Corteva, an American agricultural chemical company — has the unique opportunity to protect 422 acres of forest in Fairfield County.

Remington Woods, owned by Corteva, a spinoff of DowDuPont, is nestled between the city of Bridgeport and the town of Stratford, with a majority of the forest in Bridgeport. Bridgeport, with multiple polluting facilities and two highways running through it, has a deficient tree equity score and child asthma hospitalization rates that are twice as high as the state. Stratford recently has been working to continue conserving its existing green spaces, particularly near areas with developing roads.

Environmental concerns abound about Corteva’s products. The corporation makes its fortune by producing agricultural chemicals and genetically modified seeds, among other items. They produce PFAs, the “forever chemical,” and they are also recently known for the production of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, which Corteva only stopped producing in 2020, following numerous reports and national concerns.

Corteva has developed “Sustainability Goals” that include “improved health of pollinators, forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems without negative impacts to the system.” Additionally, Corteva prides itself on the strides it has taken towards “strengthening (and)… understanding of the communities [they] serve and driving … sustainable growth” and it plans to continue working towards diversity and inclusion as part of its equity commitments.

Protecting and preserving all 422 acres of Remington Woods for the enjoyment of the local residents fits into these goals. For years, residents, advocates and organizations have strongly recommended that Corteva consider conservation as an outcome for the Remington Woods property. Yet Corteva has plans to develop Remington Woods into an office park.

There is little to indicate that an office park is a good idea. According to a recent Connecticut Post story, the Bridgeport government recently “solicited proposals for a municipally owned building and it garnered an unexpectedly poor number of responses” — one, to be exact — and this has not been an isolated incident. With numerous businesses struggling to stay open and closing down, including the Bridgeport Holiday Inn, the pandemic impacting daily office tenancy, and a downtown area that is in dire need of revitalization, many community residents are reasonably reluctant to support the development of the Remington Woods forested land.

Remington Woods is an asset to our communities. It provides carbon sequestration, cooling and flood control, and if protected and opened to residents, it has the opportunity to provide much-needed access to nature and tree cover. Remington Woods is the last lung of Fairfield County and the only surviving urban forest.

Protecting Remington Woods is a dual-sided opportunity for Corteva to begin making equitable steps toward a greener future and meet its own sustainability goals.

Jhoni Ada, of Bridgeport, is a member of the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club.