CEQ: December 20, 2005 Press Release

NEWS RELEASE                                                                       

CONTACT:  Karl Wagener
                860-424-4000

December 20, 2005

 Council on Environmental Quality Report Says Preserved Lands Are Being Damaged by Illegal Activities 

            HARTFORD – The Council on Environmental Quality delivered a report to Governor M. Jodi Rell today that says there is an ongoing assault on Connecticut’s preserved lands, including state parks and forests, municipal parks, and land owned by private organizations such as land trusts.

         “The Council found that dozens of encroachments, or unauthorized activities on preserved lands, compromise the boundaries and natural resources of these important lands,” said Council Chairman Thomas F. Harrison, a resident of Avon.

The most common type of encroachment is the illegal felling of trees, according to the report, but there are many other types as well, including the placement of buildings, driveways, and lawns on what is supposed to be protected open space.

“The problem is that existing laws provide no deterrent to those who would violate the boundaries of preserved lands, and no effective remedies for the organizations that are the victims of such violations,” Harrison continued.

The report, titled “Preserved But Not Protected,” includes numerous examples of encroachments from across the state, and offers more than 15 recommendations for correcting the problem.

“We also will be delivering this report to the General Assembly, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, all of whom are critical to reversing this widespread problem,” Harrison said.

In addition to much stiffer penalties for those who cut trees or create other encroachments on preserved land, the Council is recommending more resources for the Department of Environmental Protection, which manages 250,000 acres of land but does not have a single surveyor on staff.

Finally, the Council reports that many areas of preserved land have been damaged by All-Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs, and is recommending enhanced enforcement capabilities for state Environmental Conservation Officers.

The Council is a state agency that is independent of the Department of Environmental Protection.  It delivers a report to the governor every year on the status of the state’s environment, as well as interim reports that address specific deficiencies in state environmental programs.  Members are appointed by the governor and legislative leaders.

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Content Last Modified on 12/19/2005 5:39:26 PM