The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced the completion of Connecticut’s first Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, designed to document the condition of Connecticut’s forests, engage the public in discussions about Connecticut’s forestlands, and develop strategies to focus federal, state and local partner efforts in protecting, conserving, and managing Connecticut’s forestlands.
“The DEP’s Division of Forestry along with Connecticut Forest and Park Association and many other partners worked diligently for more than year preparing and completing this plan, a comprehensive document intended to serve as a central component of the agency’s long term goals for Connecticut’s beautiful forests,” said William Hyatt, DEP’s Chief of the Bureau of Natural Resource. “Connecticut’s Assessment and Strategy plan works in conjunction with Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan to provide a framework for planners managing the state’s natural resources.”
Authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 otherwise known as the 2008 Farm Bill, the Connecticut’s Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy is part of a national effort toward protecting and sustaining healthy forests, which offers the first-ever suite of forest resource evaluations completed by 59 state/territorial forestry agencies.
Connecticut’s Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy is available for viewing and downloads at DEP: Forest Assessment. Connecticut’s Assessment and Strategy integrates existing documents such as Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (DEP: SCORP) and Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan (Connecticut State Wildlife Action Plan).
Assessments and strategies address three national themes identified by the United States Forest Service:
- Conserving Working Forest Lands: conserving and managing working forest landscapes for multiple values and uses.
- Protecting Forests from Harm: protecting forests from threats, including fire, catastrophic storms, flooding, insect or disease outbreaks, and invasive species.
- Enhancing Public Benefits from Trees and Forests: including air and water quality, soil conservation, biological diversity, carbon storage, and forest products, forestry-related jobs, production of renewable energy, and wildlife.
The 2008 Farm Bill requires states to complete state forest assessments and resource strategies as a condition of receiving federal funds to support several state forestry programs. Programs in Connecticut include:
- Forest Stewardship Program, which provides forestry advice and technical assistance to Connecticut’s municipalities and private landowners, which combined own over 80% of Connecticut’s forestlands. The goal of this program is to encourage and enable long term forest management through the development of comprehensive, multi-resource management plans.
- Urban Forestry Program, which works with the citizens of Connecticut in the improvement of the states urban and community forests through technical assistance and grant programs.
- Forest Legacy Program, which identifies and conserves environmentally important forests from conversion to non-forest uses. This program protects working forests, defined as those that protect water quality, provide habitat, forest products, opportunities for recreation and other public benefits, through the purchase of conservation easements.
- State Fire Assistance Program, which augments funds to support State wildfire management programs including supplies and equipment purchases, training requirements and installation of dry hydrants by local fire departments.
- Volunteer Fire Assistance Program, which provides funds for small grants to local volunteer fire departments to purchase equipment, support training needs as well as prevention activities.
The Assessment process identified landscape areas where national, regional, and state resource issues and priorities converge. Strategies developed can serve as a road map for investing state, federal, and other resources to manage priority landscapes identified in the assessment. While Connecticut’s assessment and strategy is unique, the information will assist with broader regional and national landscape conservation planning.
The Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy incorporates the best data available, stakeholder input, and consideration of other relevant state assessments, plans, and priorities. It is hoped that the Assessment will provide valuable feedback in communicating forest-related issues, threats, and opportunities in the state; and the Strategy will engage forestland partners to work collectively to protect and conserve the valuable forest resources across Connecticut.
Additional information: The Division of Forestry is welcoming public reaction to the document through August 30, 2010. Send comments to DEP Division of Forestry (email@example.com) or contact Helene Hochholzer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Forest Planner, with any questions