Who benefits from Connecticut’s treasured public lands? Everyone.

For many in our state, public lands like Hammonasset Beach, Heublein Tower, Gillette Castle, and Sleeping Giant, are the only resource to enjoy the outdoors and open space, making State Forests and Parks invaluable to our communities and the state as a whole.

Public lands are here for everyone. That’s why most Connecticut State Parks and Forests are free, providing local places for relaxation, inspiration, and for kids to explore and learn about nature.

On Nov. 6, you have the chance to vote yes on Question #2 to protect your state parks, forests, and other valuable public lands from being sold, swapped or given away without a public hearing. That will ensure public lands remain public and open for everyone.

Voting yes on Question #2 would ensure there would be a public hearing and a two-thirds vote before state parks and forests could be sold, swapped, or given away by the General Assembly.

Improving accountability and transparency in government and protecting resources that everyone in our community relies on is vital to Connecticut’s economy and quality of life.

Every year, state parks and forests attract around 9 million visitors, generate over $1 billion in revenues for the state, and support over 9,000 jobs. Outdoor recreation in Connecticut generates $6.9 billion in consumer spending, $2.2 billion in wages and salaries in the private sector, $502 million in state and local tax revenues, and supports 71,000 Connecticut jobs annually (more than the aerospace and defense industry).

Public lands also help to protect our clean drinking water. Nothing is more important than clean drinking water. Voting ‘yes’ on this ballot question will help to conserve the natural areas and forests that are critical to purify the water in Connecticut’s rivers and streams, by filtering out pollution.

On average more than five parcels of public lands are given away each year with no public input at all. If Question #2 on the statewide ballot passes with enough “yes” votes on Nov. 6, we can keep public lands public. By requiring public meetings to receive community input, this measure will require government to be transparent and open about any ownership decisions made on state parks and publicly-owned open spaces.

Public lands are owned by the public and managed on behalf of the public by public agencies. As a result, there should always be public input before public lands are sold, swapped, or given away. A 2/3 vote requirement for the public lands that mean so much to the state’s economy would ensure that these valuable public lands would not be lost without there being a significant, bipartisan public benefit in return.

So think about your favorite state park, forest, beach, farmland, or other public lands, and vote “yes” on Question #2 to help protect these irreplaceable places for you and future generations to enjoy.

Public lands belong to all of us; shouldn’t we decide how they’re used?

Eric Lukingbeal of Granby is President of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.

CTViewpoints welcomes rebuttal or opposing views to this and all its commentaries. Read our guidelines and submit your commentary here.

Leave a comment