Action: Advocate at all levels of government and in the community for healthy forests and science based forest management, well-managed parks, inspirational outdoor education experiences, and connected trails.
What is it?
Since our founding in 1895, CFPA has worked with legislative and community leaders at the Municipal, State, and Federal government levels to establish and protect strong conservation laws for Connecticut. In 1897, CFPA began publishing an annual “Agenda for Connecticut’s Land and People” also known as our “Conservation Agenda” as a tool for lawmakers, state agencies, partners, and CFPA’s grassroots advocates to understand our priorities for conserving forests, parks, and trails at the beginning of every year. Our public policy priorities can be boiled down to this action – “healthy forests and science based forest management, well-managed parks, inspirational outdoor education experiences, and connected trails.”
Why is it important?
CFPA’s advocacy leadership has had amazing results for Connecticut. Before CFPA, there were no State Parks, State Forests, or schools of Forestry. Before CFPA, there were no municipal tree wardens, no protections for private landowners who allow recreation on their properties, no forestry laws to provide high standards for forestry professionals, no national scenic trails, and no tax incentives or funding programs to support the protection of forest, farm, and open space lands. At the same time that we have been successful “playing offense” on many fronts to promote the Conservation Agenda with great results, it is equally important to “play defense” to defend and maintain strong laws for conservation when attempts to undercut them are made. In the last decade, CFPA has vigorously fought off attempts to convert Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails into ATV trails, give away important State Park, Forest, and Wildlife Management Area lands, unravel recreational liability protection for town recreation lands, and eliminate the CT Council on Environmental Quality.
What will the impact be?
There will always be a mix of new legislation to support and oppose; myriad challenges to the management of forests, parks, and trails; and non-legislative public policy issues impacting both laws and management that will arise sporadically. CFPA must be ready with the resources (email, social media, professional lobbyist support, grassroots advocates, etc.) to both move the ball forward, and keep it from being rolled backward. CFPA’s staff, board, membership, volunteers, and partners play critical, active roles in all phases of improving public policy for Connecticut by providing funding, energy, and connections to spread important messages statewide both quickly and forcefully.
Our two top priorities that will be difficult but critical to achieve in the coming years follow:
- Establish a Constitutional Amendment that prevents the give-away of State-owned recreation, conservation, and agricultural lands without a thoughtful, public process; and
- Create a stable mechanism (as much as is possible) for funding and staffing the maintenance and improvement of State Parks and Forests for the public.