Open spaces are critical to our environment. Forests and other natural resources act as "carbon sinks," absorbing harmful carbon emissions from our atmosphere and helping to fight climate change. At the same time, our parks, trails, farms, greenways, and historical sites are key to higher home values and a better quality of life.
Not all undeveloped land is considered protected open space. Much of it will eventually be developed. In order to maintain Connecticut's natural diversity, wildlife habits, and scenic charm, we must balance economic development with land conservation.
Connecticut set a goal of preserving 21% of our land as open space by 2033. In order to reach this benchmark, we must act now to preserve our farms, parks, trails, and natural resources.
MUNICIPAL FUNDING OPTION PROGRAM
In 2021 the legislature passed HB 6441, now Public Act 21-115. This law expands the purposes and uses for municipal storm water authorities, flood and erosion control boards, and Green bank revenues. This bill originally included the municipal funding option but it was struck at the last moment. After years of work, the repeal of section 4 was a terrible blow for environmental conservation in Connecticut. Governor Lamont highlighted climate adaptation as one of the urgent priorities to address climate change in Connecticut. The conveyance fee had huge support from advocates, municipalities, the public and every land trust across the state.
Towns and municipalities need a sustainable source of funds in order to acquire dedicated open space. While there are some federal and state grants available for towns to preserve farms, parks, forests, and other natural resources, most of these grants require matching local dollars. Furthermore, some of these grants have seen dramatic cuts in recent years.
Similar programs in Long Island have met with great success, improving quality of life and even lowering taxes. This program would allow municipalities to raise the required local funds to participate in open space grants and preserve the natural resources we rely on for our quality of life.