"Keep Up the Advocacy. It's Working!"

That's what a Legislator recently wrote to a land trust in her district in response to their e-mail message asking her to restore proposed cuts to the Community Investment Act.

And that's our message to you, too!
Please call or email your Legislators this week!

With just weeks left in the 2015 Legislative Session, NOW is the time to send a message to your State Legislators on the following key issues which directly impact your conservation work.   (Find your Legislators and their contact info HERE)

Message #1:  Restore Cuts to Community Investment Act
The Governor's Budget proposes a complete sweep of ALL Community Investment Act (CIA) funds from January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, depositing all funds in the general fund over that period of time. The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee has proposed diverting half that amount -- an improvement but still a significant and unprecedented diversion of dedicated funds for programs for open space, farmland/dairy support, historic properties and affordable housing.  
  • CLCC Testimony on the CIA HERE
  • CIA One-Pager HERE
  • Find CIA Projects in your town HERE
Message #2:  Amend the Conveyance Act to remove Sections 3, 13 and 14
The annual Conveyance Bill allows the General Assembly to transfer -- by swap, sale or just plain giveaway -- state lands to towns and private parties.  Our concerns about these annual proposals include a lack of detail and information about the land and the impacts of the intended uses on the natural resources and other conservation, recreational and/or agricultural values of the properties. While we continue to work to reform the Conveyance Act process, NOW is the time to oppose certain sections of this year's bill (HB6998).
  • Section 3:  Proposal to transfer a part of Silver Sands State Park to the City of Milford for development of a paved parking lot. (Concerns include impacts on natural communities, wildlife habitat, plants, and wildlife/bird species including a number of state listed species)
  • Sections 13 and 14:  Proposals to allow a private developer to access roads across State lands for gravel and sand extraction in Brooklyn/Canterbury and Killingly/Plainfield, respectively. (Sites are part of Quinebaug Management Area and include habitat for endangered species, including the spade foot toad)
  • CLCC Testimony on Conveyance Bill HERE (Note that Sections 14 and 15 referenced in our testimony are now Sections 13 and 14 after one section of the original Conveyance Act was removed)
  • Rivers Alliance testimony with detailed section-by-section analysis HERE
  • CFPA  Analysis of Sections 3, 13, and 14 HERE
People's Lane
Photo Credit: CT DEEP
Message #3:  Restore cuts to the State Parks Budget
The Governor's budget includes $2 million/year cut to the State Parks budget, further burdening DEEP's already limited resources to manage public lands and likely leading to several Park closures around the state.  State Parks enhance our quality of life and are economic drivers worth protecting.  At a minimum, we ask that the Appropriations Committee recommendation (restoring all but $100,000/year of those cuts) be approved.

Message #4:  Support Recommendations of Appropriations Committee re: Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)

The Governor's budget proposes eliminating staffing for CEQ -- the state's independent, environmental watch-dog agency -- and transferring it to the Office for Legislative Affairs without funding. The Appropriations Committee proposed restoring funding and staff for CEQ and keeping the agency at DEEP.   Acting through its volunteer council and just two staff, with just limited admin support from DEEP, there is likely no other state agency that does so much for so little.
  • CLCC's Testimony on State Parks Budget and CEQ HERE

Please send your messages TODAY!
Time is of the essence -- the legislative session ends on June 3! 

Did you already send a message in response to our first Call to Action in March? Excellent! Now is a perfect time to circle back with your legislators, remind them that you appreciate their support, and ask that they in turn forward your messages to their respective party's leadership.  
As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at (860) 685-0587 or abpaterson@ctconservation.org.

PS:  Some good news! 
Yesterday, the House unanimously approved SB347 AAC The Percentage of State and Federal Funds That May Be Used to Purchase Open Space under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program (OSWA), the bill which changes the cap on combining OSWA and Federal Funds from 70% to 90%.  As previously reported, the bill was already approved by the Senate on consent with an amendment to provide the DEEP Commissioner with discretion to eliminate the cap entirely based on certain criteria. The bill now heads to the Governor's office.  Stay tuned!