“If I knew that the land I donated to be a State Park could be so easily given away or sold for different purposes, I never would have made the gift in the first place.” - Anonymous donor
Prospective donors of land, neighbors to public lands, users of public lands, and citizens who believe in good government all have a stake in ensuring that your public lands will not be given away, swapped, or sold without an open, public process.
The only way to ensure better protection for public lands is to amend Connecticut’s constitution. Any measure short of a constitutional amendment could be circumvented or ignored by the General Assembly … and this is currently happening every year.
What can be done?
Vote. In 2018, the General Assembly passed SJ 35 with large enough majorities to get on the November 6th ballot. The specific question that will appear on the ballot follows:
"Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to require (1) a public hearing and the enactment of legislation limited in subject matter to the transfer, sale or disposition of state-owned or state-controlled real property or interests in real property in order for the General Assembly to require a state agency to sell, transfer or dispose of any real property or interest in real property that is under the custody or control of the agency, and (2) if such property is under the custody or control of the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, that such enactment of legislation be passed by a two-thirds vote of the total membership of each house of the General Assembly?"
In plain language, this asks whether you would like to amend the state constitution to require that before the General Assembly can sell, trade, or give away public lands there must 1) be a public hearing; and 2) a vote of 2/3rds would be required for public lands held by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (for example, State Parks, Forests, Wildlife Management Areas) or the Department of Agriculture (for example, state-owned agricultural lands or easements).
Why is this so important?
If you think that public lands are safe and could never be given away or swapped, we encourage you to see several examples of what has been proposed in just the past few years.
How can I learn more about this?
The CT Council on Environmental Quality published a terrific report in January, 2014 that makes it clear that your public lands are not protected. We strongly support the findings and recommendations in their report including the need for a constitutional amendment to better protect public lands, Preserved But Maybe Not: the Impermanence of State Conservation Lands.
CFPA also put together a one-pager on SJ 35 that hopefully anticipates questions you may have.
Who else supports this effort?
CFPA thanks the more than 135 organizations (in alphabetic order here) who have endorsed the need for S.J. 39.
How can you get further involved?
If you have questions about this effort or CFPA's public policy work, you can contact CFPA's Executive Director, Eric Hammerling via email@example.com.