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Passport and Seaside and Trails, Oh My!

The Environment Committee is holding a public hearing THIS Friday, March 16th on the "Passport to the Parks," the future of Seaside State Park, and bonding for Recreational Trails and Greenways.

You can make a difference on these 3 critical issues with your testimony:

SUPPORT SB 429: “An Act Concerning the Passport to the Parks.”

This bill clarifies the intent of the General Assembly to protect “Passport to the Parks” revenues in a dedicated, non-lapsing account rather than in an annually appropriated fund that could be more easily swept or diverted. A non-lapsing account would also be more efficient for managing Parks because it allows CT DEEP to recruit, hire, and train seasonal workers when they are needed for the Spring - Fall outdoor recreation season rather than waiting on the uncertain timing of the state’s budget process.

SUPPORT SB 424: “An Act Authorizing Bonding for Bikeways, Greenways and Recreational Trails.”

This bill re-authorizes bonding for the CT Recreational Trails & Greenways program that has put $7 million since 2016 into 41 municipal and nonprofit grants as well as multiple State Park and Forest projects in more than half of all communities across the state. Without this bonding re-authorization, there will be no more matching grants available for creating, improving, or maintaining recreational trails. There is a current backlog of grant requests of over $10 million, trails bring significant economic benefits to communities, and Connecticut’s State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) ranks recreational trails at the very top of both community assets and needs for the future.

OPPOSE SB 449: “An Act Concerning the Disposition of the Former Seaside Sanatorium Facility.”

This bill forces CT DEEP to determine the “highest and best use” of Seaside State Park in collaboration with the Chief Elected Official of Waterford. Not only has CT DEEP already determined this in its Master Plan for Seaside State Park released in January after a lengthy public input process, but also the precedent of inserting a local elected official into how public land should be managed is inappropriate. A State Park is a public resource that must be managed to benefit the entire public, and not be unduly influenced by a parochial interest. CT DEEP should be encouraged to move forward with implementing the Master Plan for Seaside State Park without this kind of interference.

You can submit your testimony on any or all of these bills to the Environment Committee via email to envtestimony@cga.ct.gov BEFORE 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 15th so it will be read before the public hearing. Please also do the following:

1.      CC: your State House/Senate Legislators, and BCC: me ehammerling@ctwoodlands.org;

2.      Attach your testimony to your email as a PDF document (Committee's strong preference);

3.      If you borrow from the text above, please personalize it with your own views and style; and

4.      Don’t forget to include your name and town of residence.

The testimony that CFPA submitted for this hearing is available here.

Thank you again for your active involvement and support of Connecticut’s great outdoors and CFPA!  If you have questions about the upcoming public hearing or other matters, please contact me anytime via ehammerling@ctwoodlands.org.