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MAP: How Much of Your Town Is Open Space?

Less than two-thirds of Connecticut towns have conserved more than the state goal of 21 percent.

One of the central charms of Connecticut is the scenic views and large tracts of undeveloped open space, conserved for recreation and the preservation of the state’s ecosystem.

Maintaining open space is important for more than just outdoor recreation and aesthetics — large areas of untouched land are essential for a healthy environment.

“Forested areas are especially adept at removing carbon from the atmosphere, which helps to minimize global climate change, and floodplains, coastal waterfront and adjacent uplands provide opportunities to respond to the anticipated effects of climate change,” according to the state’s Green Plan (which is currently undergoing a revision). “Other valuable open space services are… contributions to local sustainable economy from wood, food and fiber production, and maintenance of the diversity of Connecticut’s landscape. Open space also can provide a variety of specific ecological functions such as preserving biodiversity, habitat for rare species, streamflow and water supply protection, and flood control.”

The interactive map above — color-coded by the percent of total acres conserved — shows data on open space conservation for 158 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, gathered from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and municipal plans of conservation and development.

The totals include federal and state land, as well as parcels owned locally by municipalities and land trusts.

(Data on total open space was not available for Barkhamsted, Bozrah, Chester, Darien, Deep River, East Haven, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Plymouth, Stamford and West Haven. Figures for Branford, Bridgeport, Easton, Norwalk and Orange are estimates.)

Percents of town area conserved range widely across the state, from 0.3 percent in Waterford to a high of just over 70 percent in Hartland, which has more than 15,500 acres of preserved terrain.

Almost 80 towns have less than 15 percent of land preserved (shown in red on the map), and another 30 are below the state goal of 21 percent (purple on the map).

Towns between 21 percent and 30 percent are shown in blue on the map; more than 30 percent are marked yellow; and over 45 percent conserved are green.

Now get out and see what the state has to offer. If you need somewhere to start, check out this rundown of Connecticut Patch editors’ favorite spots.
Kathy Wandelmaier April 28, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Joan, I'm not a tax attorney or a rep of either O.S group. I am on the board of a land trust in Brookfield. A land trust that accepts a land donation should be monitoring that property on a regular basis to be sure that its conservation value is protected. The "benign neglect" maintenance plan goes against current land trust best practices. A land trust that accepts a conservation easement on a property has an even bigger legal responsibility to monitor the property and make sure there are no infringements. A parcel that is likely to become a maintenance headache is not going to be worth their effort if it is relatively small or isolated or if public access is part of the land trust's mission. There may still be ways to keep your land undeveloped and get a tax break. Ask one of open space groups to refer you to a competent tax attorney who has experience with easements. You will need to spend some money for this person's advice, but he or she should be able to tell you pretty quickly whether or not there is a strategy you can use to conserve your land and get a tax break. Perhaps Mr. Alexander (see his comment above) can give you further advice. Good luck.
Long term resident April 28, 2014 at 05:48 PM
Cheryl, you are pushing a Trevor Loudon? blog? That's actually laughable. He is the god of conspiracy theory, but I guess paranoid people look up to him. He was the one that created the movement for a "Soviet free New Zealand"
Peter F. Alexander April 28, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Kathy Very thoughtfully crafted response. Present parameters in CT need review regarding planning. People like you are the soul basis why I know we will get it right.
cheryl April 29, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Tom, it would behoove you to start educating yourself instead of creating your bias opinions and deal with facts. Loudon isn't the "God (with a capital G" of conspiracy theory" He's a well known author. He wrote the book "ENEMIES FROM WITHIN." A very extensive "follow the dots" book that connects all the previous& current players to organizations that are not in America's best interest. Communists, Marxist, Factious. So what you're saying all these connections don't exist? If you're saying that you're a bigger fool than we think you are. We do have enemies within - Frank Marshal Davis wonder who he was? Look him up for starters. FACTS my friend.
Joan April 29, 2014 at 04:08 PM
Thank you Kathy and Peter

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