For a number of years in our annual Connecticut State of the Birds report we’ve called for improvements in the way the State acquires, manages and keeps track of protected open space. This year there’s a bill before the General Assembly that we think will do that, and which also has a reasonably good chance of being passed and signed into law.
Called “An Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan” (SB 347), the bill requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to identify lands that are the highest priorities for open space acquisition, including wildlife habitat and ecological resources, and the general locations of these highest priorities.
The legislation also requires the DEEP to work with other state agencies to identify state-owned lands that are important for conservation but which are not protected open space, and to plan a strategy for preserving them in perpetuity.
And it broadens the number of stakeholders the DEEP must consult when it works on these projects. Added to the list are municipalities and regional planning agencies, in addition to the Council on Environmental Quality and private nonprofit land conservation organizations such as CAS.
The bill was drafted by the Council of Environmental Quality, and we’ve been working with its executive director, Karl Wagener, on trying to get it passed. We have created a new Tracking Legislation page on our website to follow its progress, and the progress of other bills we’re interested in. It also includes more information about why we think it’s important and a link to the text of the bill.
To take a look, click here.
The Act Concerning the State’s Open Space Plan was reported favorably out of the Environment Committee, which means the committee endorses it. But it has yet to be placed on the Senate calendar. When it does, we will be asking our supporters to make phone calls and send emails to the appropriate people in Hartford to help get it passed.