Governor Dannel P. Malloy joined Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel Esty, Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, and environmental advocates at the Session Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington for a ceremonial bill signing for Public Act 12-152 An Act Concerning the State's Open Space Plan. This legislation strengthens Connecticut's efforts to preserve important land as open space.
"Protecting open space is paramount to preserving our quality of life," said Governor Malloy. "By improving the way we coordinate land management and planning, we will make sure that we strike the right balance between development and land conservation, and protect the immense natural beauty of our state."
The new law will help Connecticut meet the goal of protecting 673,210 acres, or 21 percent, of state land as open space by 2023. It requires DEEP to:
Update the state's open space plan by December 15, 2012 and then at least once every five years;
Prioritize land acquisition to integrate existing priorities such as wildlife habitat and ecological resources having the greatest need of immediate preservation;
Make recommendation for establishing a voluntary statewide catalogue to keep track of all conserved lands--private, municipal, state, and federal--in a format that is easily accessible to the public; and
Develop a plan to identify and permanently protect land of conservation value that is held by other state agencies.
"This law puts a sharper focus on land conservation efforts and DEEP looks forward to working with a variety of partners during implementation," said Daniel Esty, Commissioner of DEEP. "It also requires us to think more creatively and develop a strategy to better prioritize and track our progress--all important to meeting our ultimate goal of protecting 21 percent of Connecticut's land."
"This new law recognizes the critical importance of working lands and strengthens the efforts to preserve them through a strategic, collaborative approach among agencies and organizations that protect land in the state," said Steven K. Reviczky, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. "Connecticut continues to be a model for the nation on this front."
With the assistance of two other DEEP initiatives, the Recreational and Natural Heritage Trust Program and the Open Space and Watershed Grant Program, Connecticut currently protects 493,452 acres of land as open space. Public Act 12-152 had widespread support from state officials and advocates and was signed by the Governor on June 15, 2012.