Letter: Vote to protect public lands

To the Editor:

Currently, the Connecticut General Assembly can sell, swap, or give away state parks, forests, and other valuable public lands with no public input. That is why we support the public land conveyance constitutional amendment that will be on this November’s ballot. The amendment will require a public hearing and 2/3 vote from the General Assembly before our state parks and forests can be sold, swapped or given away and improve the accountability and transparency of public land transactions.

The town of Ridgefield has 27% of its land in open space, about 6,000 acres. About 4,000 acres of town and land trust land are permanently protected; 300 properties are under the jurisdiction of this commission. The 1,500 acres of state land located in Ridgefield deserve the protection of this constitutional amendment. It is important for several reasons:

  • The state forest, parks, and wildlife management areas provide the backbone of our commitment to preserve our environment for both our citizens and our wildlife.

  • The state lands provide the matrix around which much of private land conservation is focused. It is a very common practice to focus conservation efforts on expanding protection to land immediately adjoining a state park or forest.

  • The state of the state’s budget makes this legislation more critical than ever. There might be a temptation to try and meet today’s monetary needs by selling land held by the state

We hope you, the citizens of Ridgefield, will vote yes to support the right of the public to weigh-in directly on the legacy of Connecticut’s tremendous public lands and vote in favor of this important constitutional amendment.

James Coyle

Florida Road, Oct. 1