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CFPA Conservation History

Burned strip along rail lines in Connecticut

Since 1895, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) has effectively facilitated the conservation of forests and the creation and preservation of hiking trails throughout Connecticut. CFPA first started as a small group of citizens concerned primarily about deforestation, fire, and wood shortage. When the organization began its work, Connecticut had already been deforested several times and was 20% forested: today it is 60% forested.

At the time of inception, farmland was also being abandoned because people were moving west to farm more fertile soils or were moving to cities for industrialization. This increase in abandoned farmland led to widespread fires caused by sparks from locomotives. Across the country, uncontrolled fires burned, especially in Michigan and Minnesota. This led to nationwide laws being passed to protect forests including an 1891 federal law that authorized the president to create forest reserves and the 1895 establishment of a bureau of forestry. With a push from CFPA, Connecticut followed suit and in 1901 passed a law that authorized the position of a state forester and the purchase of land for reforestation.

Once the 1901 law was passed, CFPA Directors pushed to obtain land for the state. They used their own money and organized campaigns around the state to protect special places. Important properties acquired were Sleeping Giant, Talcott Mountain, Gillette Castle, Hammonasset, Rocky Neck, Sherwood Island, etc. One of the major campaigns organized by CFPA was the push for Peoples’ State Forest. CFPA Directors instituted a widespread fundraising campaign and pooled their own money to buy the property and gift it to the state. Over 2,500 people attended the dedication ceremony. Along with this property, CFPA brought thousands of acres of land into the public domain, forming the backbone of Connecticut’s State Forests and Parks.

Since 1986, the direct acquisition of interests in land has become the new way for CFPA to advance its forest conservation mission. CFPA is a land trust, protecting over 2,000 acres of working forests and trails through fee ownership and conservation easements. CFPA holds property throughout the state with concentrations of holdings in central and northeastern Connecticut. Our primary focus is the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System and working/demonstration forests. To learn more about the land that CFPA protects select here. To learn more about options for land protection select here.