DEEP: DEEP Taking Steps to Improve Conditions at Wadsworth Falls State Park

July 31, 2013
DEEP Taking Steps to Improve Conditions at Wadsworth Falls State Park
Actions at Falls area will reduce crowds and littering
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is taking steps to address the issues of large crowds and littering at the section of Wadsworth Falls State Park known as “The Big Falls” – an effort that will restore that area to the uses for which it was intended and historically used.
The actions being taken by DEEP at The Big Falls, which is located off Cherry Hill Rd., Middlefield, include:
  • Removing picnic tables
  • Removing and prohibiting charcoal grills
  • Prohibiting picnicking – posting No Picnicking signs
  • Prohibiting swimming – posting No Swimming signs
  • Increasing patrols of the area by the agency's Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police – including enforcement of the park closing at sunset
  • Working with local officials to reduce illegal parking and speeding in the area
  • Clarifying the Wadsworth Falls webpage on the DEEP website to distinguish between  activities allowed at the main portion of Wadsworth State Park and the Big Falls
“The Big Falls area was designed to accommodate a small number of people at any one time and over the years it was a scenic spot where visitors stopped for short visits to view the water,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen.  “It has now become a destination for large numbers of people who picnic and stay for many hours.  The Big Falls is simply not intended for this purpose and the steps we are taking should help reduce the numbers of people who are illegally parking on streets nearby to visit The Big Falls and stay there for the day.”
Added Whalen, “I want to thank local officials – especially First Selectman Brayshaw, Senator Bartolomeo, and Representative Altobello – for working closely with us to find solutions to the challenges we face at the Big Falls.”
“I appreciate DEEP’s responsiveness to me and other local officials on the issues facing this area of Wadsworth Falls,” said Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw.  “The steps DEEP is taking will go a long way toward addressing overcrowding and littering in this area, which will be appreciated by town residents and improve the park experience for visitors this summer.”
“I’m pleased that less than a week after I met in my legislative office with Rep. Altobello and DEEP officials, a comprehensive and workable solution to the problems of parking and littering at Wadsworth Falls has been proposed,” said state Senator Danté Bartolomeo (D-Meriden), who represents Middlefield and  Rockfall. “Residents’ concerns to have the park returned to its natural state have been heard. It is my intention to follow-up with residents to ensure that these changes are in fact having the desired effect.”
State Representative Emil “Buddy” Altobello (D-Meriden) who represents Meriden and Middlefield, said, “I am pleased with the new rules put in place by the Department.  Their actions will return the use of this marvelous Scenic Overlook to its original purposes.”
Whalen said DEEP encourages people who want to picnic and spend the day in the area to visit the main portion of Wadsworth Falls State Park, which is set up to handle parking, large numbers of visitors and picnicking.  She also said there are other state parks just a short drive away that can also meet this need – places such as Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, Wharton Brook State Park, North Haven, and Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth.

Whalen also urged visitors to all state parks to show respect for the outdoors and for others by placing their trash in receptacles, at parks where they are available, and carrying out their trash in other locations.  She said it is not practical to manage trash receptacles at The Big Falls and DEEP needs to depend on people carrying out their trash from that location,

“The vast majority of visitors to our parks enjoy themselves while following the rules and exhibiting good behavior,” Whalen added.  “Unfortunately a small number of people leave trash at our parks and engage in behavior that affects the experience of others.  It is difficult to address this but our EnCon Police officers are stepping up efforts across the park system to do so.
“As we prepare to celebrate the Centennial of our state park system we encourage everyone to visit our parks and enjoy the outdoors - but to do so safely and in a manner that honors the 100-year history of our parks.  This means obeying water safety rules at swim areas, not littering, and respecting local residents, and other park visitors.”