Connecticut State Parks ‘Not Protected Forever’
If you think Connecticut’s roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you’re wrong. That’s according to a new report from Connecticut’s Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren’t always preserved forever.
WNPR News reported that Eric Hammerling, who heads up the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association, said, “Certainly, there is an expectation from the public that if they live next to, or visit, a state park or forest, that’s something that’s protected on behalf of the people, and will be there forever. But that’s not actually the case.”
Most state land deeds for conservation space don’t require perpetual conservation. Granted, large-scale land transfers are a really tough sell, but Karl Wagener from Connecticut’s Council on Environmental Quality said he still wants the state’s land-transfer process to be more open and transparent.
Currently, The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) can’t sell conservation lands, but it can gift or exchange open space by engaging in land transfers. Land transfers currently work in two ways. If a town requests taking over state-owned conservation land, it can go to DEEP and request the land be granted as a gift. The town can also offer up some land in exchange, as was the case with 2012’s Haddam land swap.
If DEEP denies the swap, Wagener said there’s another option for towns: going to the legislature. “There’s a bill in the legislature every year,” Wagener said, “called the conveyance bill and lots of parcels of state land are given to towns or other parties.” Usually, these land transfers are mundane. They aren’t large conservation spaces. They’re things like small parcels of land that would allow a town to implement a road expansion or other infrastructure improvements.
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