NEW ENGLAND NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL DESIGNATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - January 29, 2008)
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Arizona for his leadership, and I rise in strong support of this legislation.
But I especially want to commend Congressman Olver for his dedication and hard work. I think most people in this Chamber recognize John Olver as somewhat of an academician and someone who certainly knows the workings of the Appropriations Committee, but few probably know that he's an avid hiker. And next to Henry David Thoreau, from Massachusetts, probably is as close and akin to nature as anyone in the United States Congress. And so this is something that he has worked on a long period of time, at least since I've been in the United States Congress, and I want to commend him for his hard work, and especially commend Chris Murphy from Connecticut as well for his work in this district.
I'm proud to say that this trail runs all the way through from Massachusetts to the Sound, and the Governor of the State of Connecticut has fully endorsed this matter, and it impacts the communities in my district of East Granby, Bloomfield, West Hartford, Southington, Berlin, Middleton. More than 2 million people, as you've heard other members come to the floor and enumerate, are going to be fortunate enough to share the values that we derive from going out and hiking and being able to be part of this unbelievable MMM Trail that will be provided for our constituents and citizens. So I stand in strong support of this bill and thank Mr. Olver again, and again, kudos to Chris Murphy for his hard work making sure that this came to the floor.
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, as a cosponsor of the New England Scenic Trail Designation Act, I rise in strong support of this very important bill.
Connecticut is proud to be home to part of the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett Trail System, a beautiful nature trail that runs 190 miles from Massachusetts through Connecticut to the Long Island Sound. First established in 1931, the 700-mile long Blue-Blazed trail network in Connecticut join the Metacomet-Monadnock trail system in Massachusetts, a trail laid in the late 1950s. The trail is a vital part of the natural beauty and recreational activity of the First Congressional District of Connecticut, as well as the other parts of the state and neighboring Massachusetts. This distinctive trail passes through one of the most densely populated parts of the country--2 million people live within 10 miles of the trail.
In 2001, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection designated the Metacomet Ridge System--part of the trail system--as an official state greenway. The ridge system contains a ``spine'' of traprock ridges, providing a habitat for various types of plants and animals. These living things that call the ridge home and add to its beauty are not protected from residential development pressures, and while seventeen towns in Connecticut have signed a compact to work towards protecting the ridge system the trail merits Federal protection.
In December of 2002, the President signed the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett Trail Study Act into law, which directed the National Park Service to study the trail to determine if the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett Trail should be included in the National Trail System. In April of 2006, the study recommended its inclusion. This legislation before us today urges the implementation of the study's recommendations, while protecting land owners. The bill protects the trail system against encroachment by residential growth, but prohibits the government from seizing private land through eminent domain.
Mr. Chairman, designation of the New England Scenic Trail would be an important step towards preserving the 190-mile long trail and its natural and recreational value for years to come. I urge my colleagues to join me in ensuring the environmental preservation of the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett Trail by supporting the underlying bill.