By Beth Sullivan
We live in a beautiful area, in a beautiful state, in a nation of amazing diversity of land and resources. In many areas open spaces are owned by private land trusts, like Avalonia Land Conservancy, which can protect and steward these places for our enjoyment now, but also in perpetuity, for wildlife as well as people. In some cases, individual towns do a great job of protecting open space; some towns do not.
We rely on the State to acquire and protect often larger areas using our tax dollars to do so. These are usually open to the public, many developed as highly visible and extensively used State Parks. Many are wonderful trailed and accessible areas, such as Barn Island, Haley Farm, Bluff Point and Pachaug forest, to name a few local and well-loved areas. However, many others are lesser known but no less valuable places where wildlife is left generally undisturbed.
Presently there exists a legislative loophole that would allow the state to sell, swap or give away lands without necessarily notifying the public. I am copying, here, a letter to the editor which appeared on September 28, written by two local conservation advocates, and which brings this issue to light. More importantly, it informs us all of an opportunity we all have to close the loophole and protect these State lands, in perpetuity.
Please read this letter and check this website, and use your vote to protect our special resources before they are lost.
On Nov. 6 we have an opportunity to vote for the first ever statewide Constitutional Amendment Ballot Initiative to enhance protection of Connecticut’s environment. A yes vote on Ballot Initiative No. 2 would correct a long-standing threat (the Conveyance Act) to our public lands, which has enabled the legislature, by majority vote and without a public process, to sell, swap, or give away state-owned lands to a local municipality or private company.
Many acres of our public lands have been lost using this loophole. A yes vote would improve accountability and transparency in our public land transactions by requiring a public hearing and a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.
Our state parks and forests belong to everyone. They provide places for passive recreation, relaxation, inspiration, and education. They help to conserve the natural areas and forests critical to protecting our drinking water and wildlife.
Annually, they attract eight million visitors, generate over $1 billion in state revenue, and support over 9,000 jobs.
Last May, the state Senate and House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment; on Nov. 6, it’s our turn.
The writers are co-chairs of Groton Conservation Advocates
|Please vote yes on Question 2 this election day.|
|Salt marshes are protected all along the Connecticut shoreline.|
|Simple places deserve protection too.|
|State land includes upland landscapes.|
|State lands provide opportunities for all manner of passive recreation.|
|State lands are managed for wildlife, too.|
|Unique plants are found in unique habitats.|
|We have incredible beauty and diversity in our state.|
Photographs by Beth Sullivan