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Conservation Leadership - Action 2

Action: Protect and improve management of Connecticut’s patchwork of private, municipal, and state forests and the trails that traverse them.

What is it?

CFPA advocates for public policies that supports science-based management of forests and trails, educates forest landowners about forest and trail management principles and techniques, and leads by example by practicing responsible forest and trail management on the properties and trails we own and/or manage. 

CFPA has begun forestry activities this year on several of its properties – Whitney Forest in Lebanon, Field Forest in Durham, and next year the Clemence property in Thompson – and is utilizing these properties (as well as the Goodwin Forest in Hampton) as examples of the proper management of forests and trails for landowners, neighbors, land trusts, CFPA members, and the public. Programs like Coverts and the CT Forestry Tour dovetail nicely with on-the-ground management by further educating and spreading the knowledge throughout Connecticut.  Outreach along trail corridors to existing trail hosts and to neighbors of state and private protected land is important for accomplishing this Action.

The ideal partner to implement this Action alongside CFPA would be a well-resourced State Forest division at the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).  Sadly, the number of professional forest managers for State Lands are dwindling as are the “Service Foresters” who work with private landowners (currently, there are only 2 Service Foresters providing technical assistance to the landowners who own 80% of Connecticut’s forests).  State Forests have been demonstration areas for private landowners for more than a century, but limited staff constrains CT DEEP’s ability to both respond to the needs of landowners and manage its own lands more actively.  UConn Extension also plays an important role in advising forest landowners, but UConn Extension also has only two agents with forestry expertise, and both have many other responsibilities. 

Why is it important?

Better management of forests and trails across private, municipal, and state land ownerships would lead to the following positive outcomes:

  • Improved wildlife habitats;
  • Increased clean water;
  • Healthy forests for future generations;
  • Economic benefits from forest-related industries;
  • Partnership opportunities with state, municipal, land trust, corporate, and other landowners;
  • Sequestration of carbon to mitigate climate change;
  • Connected and better protected trail networks; and
  • More people connected to the land and many additional benefits for Connecticut and CFPA.

What will the impact be?

It will take considerable staff and volunteer effort for CFPA to foster and maintain relationships with forest landowners who host or could potentially host trails.  It will take resources to engage the best foresters and harvesters to plan and conduct science-based forest management on CFPA properties in a way that is responsible, financially sustainable, and educational for neighbors, other forest landowners, and other interested parties such as legislators who mostly do not appreciate the importance of forestry in Connecticut.  It will also take significant, sustained grassroots advocacy efforts to reverse the trend of reducing the professional workforce who manage State Forests and who assist landowners.  If we can dedicate the resources to these efforts, we can achieve more cohesive and high functioning forestland across the state that will be more valuable for wildlife, recreation, education, and public health.  This will hopefully also inspire landowners and recreationalists alike to appreciate and support CFPA’s ongoing mission.