As part of the nationwide celebration of National Trails Day, which was Saturday, June 5, Gov. M. Jodi Rell commended 13 individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of Greenways — linear open space in Connecticut.
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette joined Connecticut Greenways Council Chairman Bill O’Neill today for the 2010 Greenway Awards ceremony at the Rotary Park Bandstand in Putnam.
Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county in the state. Many are supported by National Recreational Trails grants, funded each year by the Federal Highway Administration and awarded by the DEP.
“There are over a thousand miles of trails in Connecticut used for recreation including walking, biking, horseback riding and in-line skating,” Governor Rell said. “Thanks to the persistence and hard work of countless volunteers over the years, our greenways system now includes 59 officially designated greenways. This number is quite remarkable, for such a small state.”
Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette said, “Greenways provide visitors and residents alike with a unique way to travel through the state. Whether you walk, bike or paddle your way through Connecticut’ greenways, you will be able to enjoy recreational opportunities close to home.”
Greenways may include paved or unpaved trail systems, ridgelines, or linked parcels of open space. Many other communities around Connecticut have chosen, through greenway designation, to recognize the importance of river corridors for natural resource protection, recreational opportunities, and scenic values.
Awards were presented to the following:
Unsung Hero, Rex Joffray – Rex Joffray of Somers has been working tirelessly for the past 5 years promoting and developing a greenway corridor along both banks of the Scantic River from Stafford to East Windsor, Connecticut. As president of the Scantic River Watershed Association, he knows how to motivate and interest people in this passionate endeavor. When Rex isn’t clearing trail, installing riverside benches, leading a work party, or developing Google maps of the greenway, he can be seen pedaling his bike towing a trailer carrying his kayak for a serene evening paddle. He doesn’t let wintertime slow him down either, as he can often be found on cross-country skies pulling a sled laden with trail maintenance equipment to work on the latest blow down either along or in the river. Rex is a true friend and promoter of open space, the Scantic River, and the greenway, and truly an Unsung Hero for all his ambitious efforts.
Unsung Hero, Mark Cummings – Mark is the Coordinator for the Kings Mark Resource Conservation & Development Area (RC&D). RC&D projects encourage and improve the capability of designated RC&D areas to plan, develop, and carry resource conservation and development and help people care for and protect their natural resources, and improve local economies and living standards. This award is given for Mark’s dedication and successful organization of the RC&D event “Tour de Farms” which annually brings hundreds of Connecticut’s residents closer to agriculture in a fun way.
Volunteers, CT Horse Council Volunteer Horse Patrol (VHP) – The VHP is an organization founded in 2003 that partners with DEP to help monitor and patrol the State’s forests, parks, and wildlife management areas, offering directions, information, and even medical help if needed to the many recreational users of our public and private lands. They are also involved with trail marking and maintenance and have increased their patrols from just 600 man hours in 2003 to almost 4700 man hours including 700 maintenance hours this past year. They and their equine partners must pass a Horse/Rider assessment to qualify for the Patrol and also keep their CPR certification up to date. Approximately 120 riders and horses from all around the state have qualified and now patrol some 60 parks, forests, wildlife management areas, town parks, and several Land Trust properties. Their logs are turned into DEP each year and the Patrol calculates that with their 16,000 patrol hours and 3,000 trail maintenance hours over the past 6 years they have saved the taxpayers of Connecticut approximately $31,655!
Non-Profit Organization, The Last Green Valley – The Last Green Valley (LGV) promotes recreation and good stewardship of the land and water resources of our National Heritage Corridor. For more than 20 years, The LGV has been bringing people together to celebrate the unique natural and cultural resources of the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor. Last spring, the LGV designed a program to get people out and about on the water – a collaborative program called the 2009 Source to Sea Expedition. During the nine-week Expedition, ninety-five organizations sponsored ninety water-related educational events and paddles that stretched from the upper watershed to Long Island Sound. In addition, three new segments of Quinebaug River Water Trail were dedicated; paddler’s guides were produced by a new Water Trails Steering Committee for what is now 30 miles of outstanding paddling on the Quinebaug; a new car-top boat launch was dedicated on the French River, and two car-top boat launches and one new segment of riverfront trail were added on the Quinebaug River.
Town, Town of Mansfield – The Town of Mansfield is being recognized for its outstanding commitment to parks, open space preservation and trails. Mansfield has over 2,785 acres of preserved land. Their commitment to the quality of life, not only in Mansfield, but throughout eastern Connecticut is further exemplified in its volunteer boards comprised of the Open Space Committee, Parks Advisory Committee and Recreation Advisory Committee. In addition, a Friends of Mansfield Parks and Natural Area Volunteers round out the town’s true commitment to natural resource management and preservation. Management plans have been developed and implemented for all their properties. There is an extensive town-wide trail system that is integrated with the surrounding communities and UConn. The Town’s new website has extensive maps, guides, aerial photos, and other resources which provide detailed information to its citizens.
Advocacy, New Haven Safe Streets Coalition – The New Haven Safe Streets Coalition unites residents, nonprofit groups, and elected officials in support of communities that are livable and streets that are walkable and bikeable for people of all ages and abilities. The Coalition has brought much-needed attention to pedestrian and cyclist safety. With the passage of Public Act 09-154, the state’s ‘Complete Streets’ law, and New Haven’s adoption of a “Complete Streets Design Manual,” the Coalition’s efforts truly are succeeding in making Connecticut’s streets and the communities around them better places to live, work, and play.
Legislators, Jack Thompson – As mayor of Manchester back in the early 1970s, John W. “Jack” Thompson reviewed and supported a town wide greenways plan with inter-town awareness. Jack Thompson also was effective in dealing with Connecticut Department of Transportation to assure accommodation of the Charter Oak Greenway, which is now part of the Canada to Key West, Florida, East Coast Greenway. After serving in town government, Jack continued at the state and local level to support the funding of the planning and development of the Charter Oak Greenway and other Greenway projects. The real key for the Greenways project has been Jack’s advocacy of legislation that provided funding for Connecticut’s Greenway delivery system. The system provides for a process that has to be in place to allow Connecticut to receive federal funds for Greenway projects. Without the Greenway delivery system, Connecticut would be shut out of federal funding for Greenway projects. Jack is one of the few who understand the processes for obtaining funding for vital environmental projects. For more than 30 years, he has been an advocate and true supporter of greenways.
Planning, John Pagini – John D. Pagini, AICP has served as a municipal and regional planner primarily in Southern New England for the past 35 years. As Environmental Planner for the Town of Glastonbury in the 1970’s and early ‘80s’ he oversaw the Town’s stream belt preservation policy and was responsible for scores of open space and conservation easement dedications. He was instrumental in the Town’s acquisition of Earle Park on the bluffs of the Connecticut River, which led to the establishment of the adjoining Audubon Nature Center. As Director of the Nantucket Planning and Zoning Commission, he oversaw the design and ultimate expansion of the Island’s bike and all purpose path system, from 14 miles to over 28 linear miles adjoining the Island’s sensitive moorlands. He currently is a consultant to the Town of Bolton and Conservation Coordinator for Joshua’s Trust, a 14-Town land trust which last year eclipsed the 4,000 acre preservation mark. He served on the Council on Environmental Quality and on the Board of 1,000 Friends, is the Professional Development Officer to Connecticut planners, and is an advocate for smart growth and sustainable and livable communities.
Planning, Jamie Rabbit – Jamie is a certified planner and being recognized for his efforts planning and facilitating greenways and trails in Pomfret. He has consulted the P&Z Commission in Pomfret for many years during which he worked on the Airline State Park Trail’s “RR Station Simulation” in Town as well as providing much needed access to the Airline Trail from Rte. 44. In addition Jamie worked with the Town to secure sale of development rights to protect approximately 740 acres as open space. Jamie is also a Senior Planner for the Southeastern Connecticut Region.
Government, Town of Simsbury – Simsbury has been selected as the first and only town in Connecticut to make the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations and is the first designated Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Money Magazine has declared Simsbury as one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live” and is a federally designated Preserve America community. These distinctions are reliant upon and testimony to their commitment to greenways and trail systems. This award is given to applaud the importance that Simsbury places on greenways and trails and their associated dedication to continued planning and maintenance of their greenways and trails.
Education, UConn’s Dr. Norman Garrick – Dr. Garrick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Garrick is being recognized for teaching young engineers to understand and better design urban transportation systems with an eye toward better incorporating bicyclists and pedestrians.
In addition, Dr. Garrick is an expert on the social and environmental impact of transportation. Dr. Garrick recently spoke at the Fairfield County/East Coast Greenway Bicycle & Pedestrian Summit where he spoke on innovative bicycle & pedestrian planning and may work with Connecticut Department of Transportation to enhance our current guidelines.
Special Recognition, Senator Christopher J. Dodd – Senator Dodd is being recognized for his long-time commitment to promoting, protecting, and enhancing greenways throughout Connecticut. He was an early and ardent supporter of the Eight Mile River Wild and Scenic Designation, which helps to preserve one of the State’s first Official Greenways. He also championed the establishment and continued funding of the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers National Heritage Corridor, now known as the Last Green Valley. Along with Senator Lieberman, he rode a tandem bicycle along the East Coast Greenway section in Connecticut to help raise both awareness and dollars for the project. His efforts have secured millions in funds for many of the most popular trails and greenways around the state. Most recently, Senator Dodd helped to spearhead the successful designation of the New England National Scenic Trail through the center of the state, which will bring new tourism and federal resources to one of our most beautiful routes.
Special Recognition, Leslie Lewis – Leslie worked for 29 years at the DEP, retiring in 2007. For ten years, from 1997 until her retirement, Leslie served as the Trails and Greenways Coordinator, responsible for grants, state-wide trail planning and technical assistance. Leslie served on the Advisory Board for both Connecticut and New England Trails in developing the New England Greenway Vision Plan. More recently, Leslie has served as a consultant to the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association developing the WalkCT program, an initiative to bring the outdoors to the feet of every household in the state. Leslie is the visionary behind the success of the Connecticut Greenways Council. She has served the Council from its inception in 1995, first as its staff through DEP, then as a council member. Leslie has worked with communities and groups across the state to develop greenways projects and submit them for official designation.
2010 Officially Designated Greenways
Scantic River, East Windsor Extension – Most of the Scantic River valley lies significantly lower than the surrounding land that creates a pristine area. There are many historic features of interest along or close to the Scantic River. One of these is the Melrose Road Bridge which is an early example of the arch bridges produced by the East Berlin Iron Works. There are three tobacco sheds on the Harrington parcel which were constructed in 1939 and 1940 to replace earlier sheds that were destroyed by the 1938 hurricane. These sheds have suffered from neglect in recent years, but they could be restored to show the importance of the tobacco crop that for many years was raised along the Scantic River.
Five Mile River, Thompson – Communities agree that the Five Mile River corridor is a very special feature of northeast Connecticut. Much of the river flows through rural portions of three towns, and in Thompson and Putnam, Connecticut, is characterized by large undeveloped tracts of forest and wetlands, supporting diverse habitats and wildlife. The greenway connects to numerous trail systems in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts and provides exceptional recreational opportunities to residents and visitors alike. The southernmost portion of the greenway encompasses the historic mill village of Ballouville, in Killingly, including Daniels Village, a National Register archaeological site.
Salmon Brook, Granby – The Salmon Brook is arguably the most important tributary of the lower Farmington River for its high-quality habitat and water quality. The Salmon Brook corridor has a higher percentage of forest cover than that of the lower Farmington. The water-filtering effect of forested land, plus the shading and tree debris it provides to the streams, is conducive to both high water quality and good fish habitat. The quality of habitat is reflected in the diversity of fish species. Salmon Brook is judged to be an excellent nursery for juvenile salmon and a future spawning habitat for a restored salmon population. The DEP stocks salmon fry here every year.
The Ives Trail, Danbury – The greenway trail passes historic sites associated with the musician Charles Ives, including his birthplace home museum and Pine Mountain where he was inspired by the outdoor sounds of the environment. Educational kiosks along the trail illustrate the life of Charles Ives and provide the greenway user with an appreciation of the link between art and nature. Audio kiosks with short recordings of Charles Ives music will be installed in 2010 as the final capstone of the Danbury section of the Trail.
West Mountain Trails, Simsbury – Simsbury Land Trust’s West Mountain Trails are a series of hiking trails connecting the land trust’s trailhead at 60 Westledge Road in West Simsbury, on the south, with Town of Simsbury open space at the north end of North Saddle Ridge Drive. The walks t include a short loop, formed by the yellow trail and part of the red trail, within the 33-acre
60 Westledge Road property – The walk, in the floodplain and along the banks of Hop Brook, provides a woodland experience even to less robust walkers. The more taxing red trail continues north along the ridgeline, affording excellent views across the Farmington Valley and beyond. Walkers seeking only the ridgeline hike can achieve some variety by returning to the trailhead via the green trail. The blue trail takes walkers into a rift valley of great geological importance and along the foot of a splendid slope. The red and blue trails are connected near their north ends by the white trail, which gives access to North Saddle Ridge Drive and its adjacent neighborhoods.
8 Mile Brook, Oxford – The Eight Mile Brook Greenway links properties along its shores, while on its way to the Housatonic River and an existing Housatonic River Corridor Greenway. The properties that are within this proposed greenway are: Southford Falls State Park, Agnes Schiavi Tetlak Park, Cubberly/Christopher Court Preserve, Posypanko Park, the Oxford Land Trust Dann Preserve and future Pilot’s Mall open-space parcel connecting the bridal trail to the Eight Mile Brook proposed Greenway. In addition, another property that will close soon is the Belinsky 50’ easement along Eight Mile Brook. The Oxford Eight Mile Brook designation is a nearly 4.5 mile key link in connecting Southbury, Oxford and Seymour to the Housatonic River Corridor Greenway. This greenway increases the potential of adding more parcels along Eight Mile Brook and protects and preserves Eight Mile Brook.
4 Mile Brook, Oxford – The Oxford Four Mile Brook Greenway includes trails throughout the Rockhouse Hill Preserve, joining Seymour’s Mitchell Forest Open Space and adjacent to the Seymour Naugatuck segment of the Naugatuck State Park. There are trails that lead from Rockhouse into these existing open spaces. Rockhouse consists of 520 acres of rolling woodlands, waterway and wetlands with historic foundations and stone walls scattered throughout the various parcels.
Bigelow Brook, Manchester – The Bigelow Brook Greenway serves a broad spectrum of “green infrastructure” purposes to compliment the variety of land uses and diversity of stakeholders in the vicinity. The greenway protects and enhances the biological and fisheries habitat values of the watercourse, contiguous wetland areas and other natural resources such as a few locations where steep slopes have been impacted by overly-aggressive development encroachment and erosive floodwater velocities.
For more information CT Environmental Headlines recommends the following resources: