by John Stratton
Almost exactly 100 years ago, in the dawn age of natural-resource conservation and preservation, Connecticut initiated a commission to oversee its potential resources—then relatively few tracts of public lands and beaches, and the many forests, lakes, rivers, and declining farms which were largely been privately held.
This coming year—from September to September—the state is celebrating 107 state parks, 32 state forests, and boat-launches, easements, and accesses that offer swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, and fishing and education for all state residents. The state says that they are visited by eight million people every year, and add more than $1 billion a year in economic activity.
In fact, the parks are more used than ever—on this past July 4 more people attended state parks than on any single day in the history of the parks!
That’s worthy of celebration, with a long a tip of the hat to the conservation pioneers of the past. Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill saw the official kickoff of the parks’ centennial year on August 1 with a full-house assembly of conservationists, legislators, and representatives of Friends of Connecticut State Parks and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman said, “The vision and foresight of Connecticut’s leaders in the early days of the 20th century led to a state park system that preserves scenic, historic, and environmentally sensitive lands, and provides outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The State Parks Centennial is an opportunity to celebrate all we have accomplished and to look forward to meeting the challenges of the next century of our park system.”
Noting that the parks and support organizations have hundreds of local events scheduled, DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “Connecticut looks forward to a year-long Centennial Celebration showcasing our beautiful landscapes, waterways, and historic and cultural locations that inspire and amaze everyone who sets foot in our parks.”
The statewide Friends group has established a calendar that will include many of these events at http://www.friendsctstateparks.org/FCSP/All_Friends_Calendar.html.
“Connecticut’s State Parks are a proud example of what teamwork and partnerships can accomplish,” said Pamela Aey Adams, president of the Friends and former director of the DEEP State Parks system. “Innovative and resourceful folks from public and private sector, corporate and private not-for-profits, paid and volunteer, young and old, have built this park system by stepping up to implement change, support programs, acquire land and preserve history—all in the name of public good, and in accordance with the 1913 original vision of the State Park Commission.”
For more information, see http://www.friendsctstateparks.org/FCSP/Welcome.html
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