Governor Lamont Announces $2 Million in State Funding For State Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas
HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont announced that $2 million in state funding is anticipated to be approved next week by the State Bond Commission, which will be used to fund statewide repairs and maintenance works at Connecticut state parks, forests, and wildlife management areas. The announcement was made concurrent with the release of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) operational plan for the 2021 outdoor recreation season, which will have state parks, state forest recreation areas, and boat launches return to providing full services to visitors this year.
“Connecticut’s uniquely accessible and diverse outdoor recreation resources were essential to the social and economic health of our state during the worst stretches of the pandemic last year, recording record numbers of visitors and with significant increases in use of every kind, from hiking, peddling, paddling, hunting, and fishing,” Governor Lamont said. “The approval of this state funding will provide an important influx of maintenance funds to repair and sustain these precious resources so that they can continue to be a major contributor to Connecticut’s great quality of life.”
“The value and benefits of Connecticut’s amazing outdoor recreation and natural resources were experienced by more than a record 10 million visitors last year,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “While this level of use warms our hearts, it also stresses the infrastructure and quality of the amenities. This funding will help to address this wear-and-tear so we can continue to deliver immense value to our residents.”
Examples of projects that will be funded through this bond allocation include: grading and filling of gravel roads; building repairs such as roof, window and door replacement; heating and ventilation system repairs; plumbing, electrical and water system repairs, toilet building, maintenance facility and minor building repairs; replacement of picnic tables, grilles, fire rings and other park and campground amenities; timber rails, decking materials, grading and filling of parking areas; and security gates, including replacement materials.
Last year, when some states were closing their parks because of the pandemic, DEEP’s staff of essential workers was laboring tirelessly to keep parks open safely. State parks and boat launches reached capacity earlier and more often than in past summer seasons. Fishing season opened early, with license sales up 13%. Hunting license sales are up 9%. The Connecticut Trail Census reports from the summer show a more than 50% increase in trail use from 2019. New boat sales were up 40% this year.
Connecticut state parks, forests, boat launches, and other outdoor recreation areas comprise over 255,000 acres spread across the state, representing over 8% of the state’s land area. Connecticut has the second largest outdoor recreation industry in New England, outranking Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Despite its smaller geographical size, Connecticut’s outdoor recreation sector is also larger than recreational-destination states with much larger land areas such as Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Alaska.
The State Bond Commission is anticipated to vote on the allocation during its meeting on Friday, April 16, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The meeting will be held virtually and will stream live online via the Connecticut Network (CT-N) at ct-n.com.