New Law to Protect Open Space

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs a new law to conserve and protect open space in Connecticut.


On July 19, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued the following press release about a new law designed to protect and add to Connecticut's open space:

Governor Dannel P. Malloy joined Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel Esty, Department
of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, and environmental advocates at the Session Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington for a ceremonial bill signing for Public Act 12-152 An Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan. 

This legislation strengthens Connecticut’s efforts to preserve important land as open space.

“Protecting open space is paramount to preserving our quality of life,” said Governor Malloy. “By improving the way we coordinate land management and planning, we will make sure that we strike the right balance between development and land conservation, and protect the immense natural beauty of our state.”

The new law will help Connecticut meet the goal of protecting 673,210 acres, or 21 percent, of state land as open space by 2023. It requires DEEP to:

  • Update the state’s open space plan by December 15, 2012 and then
    at least once every five years;
  • Prioritize land acquisition to integrate existing priorities such as wildlife habitat and ecological resources having the greatest need of immediate preservation;
  • Make recommendation for establishing a voluntary statewide catalogue to keep track of all conserved lands—private, municipal, state, and federal—in a format that is easily accessible to the public;
  • Develop a plan to identify and permanently protect land of conservation value that is held by other state agencies.

“This law puts a sharper focus on land conservation efforts and DEEP looks forward to working with a variety of partners during implementation,” said Daniel Esty, commissioner of DEEP. “It also requires us to think more creatively and develop a strategy to better prioritize and track our progress—all important to meeting our ultimate goal of protecting 21 percent of Connecticut’s land.” 

“This new law recognizes the critical importance of working lands and strengthens the efforts to preserve them through a strategic, collaborative approach among agencies and organizations that protect land in the state,” said Steven K. Reviczky, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. “Connecticut continues to be a model for the nation on this front.”

With the assistance of two other DEEP initiatives, the Recreational and Natural Heritage Trust Program and the Open Space and Watershed Grant Program, Connecticut currently protects 493,452 acres of land as open space. 

Public Act 12-152 had widespread support from state officials and advocates and was signed by the Governor on June 15, 2012.

Keep the river front for all of us July 22, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Good Question !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael Harris July 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM
I'm glad to see the importance of a publicly accessible catalog of conserved lands recognized. Unfortunately passing a law requiring DEEP to make a 'recommendation' for a voluntary statewide catalog does nothing. This is emblematic of Connecticut state and municipal 'smoke and mirrors' approach to environmental and land use regulation where the public is told there are important safeguards in place - they are worded artfully and then pointed at by officials in a reassuring way - but in reality they are ineffective against the trump cards of economic development and political favor swapping. The key phrase in Malloy's remarks is 'we will make sure that we strike the right balance between development and land conservation'. Unfortunately this is a completely political concept where the 'right balance' means who those at the gate will choose to let through based on favoritism, un-transparent process and closed door, back room deals - not to mention the misplaced, religious belief (by both officials and the public) in the aforementioned ideal of economic development even when is consumes the land.
prkrsttn July 23, 2012 at 12:39 AM
"Strike the right balance between development and land conservation"--all that means is that whoever has the heavier load of cash for political coffers will somehow tip the scales in his/her favor.
Martin Mador July 23, 2012 at 03:50 AM
The bill doesn't affect the Haddam swap property at all. We will work on a bill next legislative session in January to rescind that swap once and for all. The bill passed this year brings attention to the importance of open space, and requires the DEEP to work on prioritizing lands, creating a registry so we know what we have, and finding protective strategies. A small group of state advocacy leaders are working on ways of protecting lands: both the 250,000 acres already in DEEP custody and lands yet to be acquired by the state. We want to put very specific protections on these lands so they are not vulnerable. We are also working on reforming the annual Conveyance Bill process, which for years has transferred open space lands such as the Haddam Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area without sufficient study or justification. Martin Mador, Sierra Club Legislative Chair
Robin Hood August 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
It looks like a waste of paper and time, it does nothing. "Let's make a law that we have to have our act together" is about all it appears to say. sigh


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