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Connecticut Audubon Society Supports Revisions to State Open Space Policies

A proposal before the General Assembly would improve open-space policies.

For a number of years in our annual Connecticut State of the Birds report we’ve called for improvements in the way the State acquires, manages and keeps track of protected open space. This year there’s a bill before the General Assembly that we think will do that, and which also has a reasonably good chance of being passed and signed into law.

Called “An Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan” (SB 347), the bill requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to identify lands that are the highest priorities for open space acquisition, including wildlife habitat and ecological resources, and the general locations of these highest priorities.

The legislation also requires the DEEP to work with other state agencies to identify state-owned lands that are important for conservation but which are not protected open space, and to plan a strategy for preserving them in perpetuity.

And it broadens the number of stakeholders the DEEP must consult when it works on these projects. Added to the list are municipalities and regional planning agencies, in addition to the Council on Environmental Quality and private nonprofit land conservation organizations such as CAS.

The bill was drafted by the Council of Environmental Quality, and we’ve been working with its executive director, Karl Wagener, on trying to get it passed. We have created a new Tracking Legislation page on our website to follow its progress, and the progress of other bills we’re interested in. It also includes more information about why we think it’s important and a link to the text of the bill.

To take a look, click here.

The Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan was reported favorably out of the Environment Committee, which means the committee endorses it. But it has yet to be placed on the Senate calendar. When it does, we will be asking our supporters to make phone calls and send emails to the appropriate people in Hartford to help get it passed.

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Peter F. Alexander March 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Towns should be included too. That would lead to Town Plans voted on by the citizens. Local politics gets in the way of real planning. Greenwich is a prime example. Tax policy that punishes landowners who have "developable lots" at "market rates" forced many into selling their sites to ego temple speculators just to pay their. property tax. That ended many modest backcountry family dreams. All to raise the tax base to justify government cost and the .75% mill rate for connected commercial propeties. Add in the bungled negotiation with the water company behind closed doors no wonder my hometown is a mess. Our State should demand voter approved Town Plans not copying the failed Greenwich zoning only plan. Seperate Palnning from Zoning, end the head fake POCD mandate. Add in the State mandated "affordable housing" Central Planning Edict and you have communities like Bridgeport without demand for the American Dream, and modest "zones" in fortunate communities with subsidised housing frorced down their throats. Greenwich is an example of how not to do things. We should take the lead in returning to the real planning in our State for hundreds of years. Not a continuation of the Robert Moses failed template that has infected the rest of the State.
Kenneth C. Kopsco March 28, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Perfectly expressed! Hope your points resonate with some forward thinking legislators.
Michael Dinan March 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Tom: Can you tell us if there are any properties in Fairfield County that would fall under this effort if the bill is passed?
Tom Andersen March 29, 2012 at 11:39 AM
The answer is "undoubtedly" but it's hard to say for sure because the goal of the bill is to get the DEEP to identify priority properties for acquisition and to identify state-owned lands that should be protected. Until they do that, we won't know for sure where those lands are.

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