Land conservation in Connecticut means more breathing room

In one of the most densely populated states in America, a case can be made that the people of Connecticut should have a little breathing room. To the date, over 7,000 acres have already been preserved in the highly valued highlands of the Northeast, and because of this, people all over New England breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water.

All of this land has been acquired with the help of The Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It’s a program that was established by Congress that provides matching grants to federal, state and local governments to help them acquire land. The fund is beneficial to all Americans, and this year it has another acquisition project in the Constitution State that will give Connecticuters two watersheds and a little bit more space to stretch.

The Wilderness Society has named Naugatuck and Mad River Headwaters as one of 29 national priorities for protection with funding from the LWCF

“In a state with enormous development pressures like Connecticut, it’s good news when any tract of land is conserved” said Leanne Klyza Linck, the regional director of the northeast program for The Wilderness Society. “This project, however, is central to protecting public drinking water supply and conserving habitat for the eastern brook trout. It’s hard to beat that.”

The State of Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, The Connecticut River Watershed Council, The Norfolk Land Trust and the National Audubon Society have worked with the LWCF to acquire this land.

All of the acreage that the LWCF is working to protect is part of a larger area of New England called the Highlands. The Highlands contain almost 3 ½ million acres and they stretch from northwestern Connecticut across the Lower Hudson River Valley of New York, through northern New Jersey to southeastern Pennsylvania.

The effort to conserve this land is called the Highlands Conservation Act Ask, and the LWCF is hoping to acquire 1,800 acres of land around Naugatuck and Mad River Headwaters. Other than the 5,901 acres of public water utility holdings, a huge majority of this region contains 50 acres or more of unprotected land that is threatened by development. A major goal of the long-term preservation of this area is to connect the larger tracts to protected lands.

The Wilderness Society and other local and national organizations are hopeful that this land acquisition project is a breath of fresh air to such a densely populated state. Contact your representative and urge him or her to support LWCF’s 2011 acquisition projects.