It is a critical time for conservation!
CT is in a budget crisis. The General Assembly is considering cuts and legislation that will have lasting impacts on conservation, including:
- A complete sweep of the Community Investment Act over the next 2 years (plus an additional $10 million taken from existing open space funds)
- Cutting $2 million/year from our State Parks
- Eliminating the funding for the Council on Environmental Quality
- Conveying public lands to municipalities and private entities
GOAL: Every State Legislator receives at least one conservation contact this week.
To find your legislators and their contact info, click HERE
See attached file for more details and a sample note.
Summary of Issues and Links to Bills and CLCC's Testimony.
Sweeping the Community Investment Act (CIA) - View CLCC’s Testimony on S.B.946, section 29(b) is HERE.
The Governor's budget proposes a complete sweep of ALL CIA funds from January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. An additional sweep of $10 million from existing open space funds is proposed in the Governor's Deficiency Bill (H.B.6825, section 5) The CIA provides funding for state programs for open space conservation, farmland preservation/dairy support, historic properties preservation, and affordable housing development. The CIA is the only consistent source of funding for the Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program (OSWA). A complete sweep of these funds could seriously impact the current grant round and the future of the entire OSWA program.
- Cuts to State Parks Budget: The proposed budget for DEEP’s natural resources program, in particular the $2 million cut to State Parks, would further devastate the department’s already burdened ability to manage public lands and likely lead to the closure of several state parks around the state. In addition to their conservation and recreational values, Connecticut State Parks are investments worth protecting -- attracting 8 million annual visitors and generating over $1 billion and 9,000 jobs for the state each year. For every $1 spent on the State Parks, over $38 is returned to Connecticut.
- Elimination of Funding for CEQ: The budget proposes eliminating staffing for CEQ -- the state's independent, environmental watch-dog agency -- and transferring it into the Office for Legislative Affairs (without any commitment from OLA that the agency will be funded in its current form) Created in 1971, CEQ is the state’s independent watch-dog agency that the public relies upon to, inter alia, monitor environmental progress, assess the efficacy of state environmental laws, policies and programs, and investigate alleged violations of environmental laws. Acting through its volunteer council and just two staff, with limited support from DEEP for administrative purposes only, CEQ provides the public with these services efficiently, effectively and at minimal cost (less than $185,000/year) to the state. There is likely no other state agency that does so much for so little.
2015 Conveyances of State-owned Conservation Lands - View CLCC's Testimony on H.B. 6998 HERE.
The Conveyance Bill is annual legislation which provides authority to transfer certain parcels of state owned land. CLCC is concerned not only about the lack of detail regarding each of the properties proposed for transfer, but the limited, if any, opportunity for public input. . CLCC and our partners have been working for years to finding way to make the Conveyance Bill process more transparent either through legislation or rule changes or both. We believe that, at a minimum, conveyances involving state parks and other conservation lands or lands impacting the same, should receive a separate hearing before the Environment Committee. CLCC's testimony included opposition specifically to Sections 3 (Milford), 8 (Fairfield), 14 (Brooklyn and Canterbury) and 15 (Plainfield and Killingly). Note that the requested transfer of land in Fairfield under Section 8 has since been deleted.
Elimination of 70% Cap on Combining Federal and State Funds under OSWA Program - View CLCC's Testimony on S.B. 347 HERE.
The 70% cap (Gonnecticut General Statutes Section 7-131g) on combining federal and state funds for projects funded through the OSWA Program is arbitrary, not founded in any federal mandate, and creates an additional hardship on local conservation partners already faced with the difficult task of raising sufficient funds to complete conservation projects. IMPORTANT UPDATE: A substitute bill proposes changing the cap to 90%. While this revision is an improvement, CLCC contends that the cap should be eliminated completely.