The Connecticut General Assembly passed a major piece of legislation that will lead to better land conservation throughout the state. Here’s our statement about it:
May 10, 2012 – The passage this week by the Connecticut General Assembly of a new open space bill will vastly improve the way the state goes about prioritizing, tracking and protecting land for conservation.
An Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan (SB 347) will make it easier for Connecticut to reach its goal of protecting 21 percent of the land in the state, which will benefit the state’s bird and their habitats – and ultimately the residents of Connecticut.
Connecticut Audubon Society congratulates and thanks the members of the General Assembly, and urges Governor Malloy to sign the open space bill into law.
Many of the bill’s specific provisions started as recommendations in Connecticut Audubon Society’s annual Connecticut State of the Birds reports. Connecticut’s conservation community supported the bill and worked collaboratively to help get it passed.
The bill requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to prepare a strategy for achieving the 21 percent goal. To ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and has broad support, the DEEP has to consult with the state Department of Agriculture, the state Council on Environmental Quality, municipalities, regional planning agencies, and private land conservation organizations such as Connecticut Audubon Society. The deadline is December 15, and it has to be updated at least every five years.
The strategy must include an estimate of the number of acres preserved statewide, as well as timetables for land acquisition by the state, plans for managing the state’s preserved lands, and an assessment of the resources the state will need to acquire and manage open space.
It has to identify the highest priorities for land acquisition, including wildlife habitat and ecological resources that are in greatest need of immediate preservation, and the general location of each priority.
The bill also requires the DEEP to work with other state agencies to identify lands they own that might have conservation value, and to devise a plan for preserving the tracts with the highest conservation value.
Connecticut Audubon Society sends its congratulations and thanks to the Council on Environmental Quality, which drafted the bill and worked closely with the DEEP and elected officials to make sure the bill had broad support; and to Audubon Connecticut (the state office of the National Audubon Society), which made key revisions to the bill as it worked its way through the legislature’s committees.
We also thank Senator Edward Meyer, and the bill’s House co-sponsors: Rep. Kim Rose, Rep. Terrie Wood, Rep. John H. Frey, Rep. Gregory Haddad, Rep. Roberta B. Willis, Rep. Elissa T. Wright, Rep. Paul Davis, Rep. Bruce Zalaski, Rep. Mike Alberts, Rep. Elaine C. O’Brien, Rep. Gail Lavielle, Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, Rep. Livvy R. Floren, Rep. Roland J. Lemar, Rep. Diana S. Urban, and Rep. Elizabeth A. Boukus.