Beyond Connecticut’s State Parks

Beyond Connecticut’s State Parks
Giuffrida Park (POTW Large)

The State of Connecticut manages somewhere in the range of 130 parks, trails, forests, and wildlife management areas, each of which offers its own unique geography and history. There are so many, in fact, that few life-long Connecticut residents can possibly lay claim to having hiked the entire lot. But for those enterprising few that may be nearing the end of the list, there”s no need to feel as if you”ve seen it all. Connecticut”s full range of protected land includes myriad parks administered by local government, local and international land trusts, and even the federal government!

This Photo of the Week, for example, features Giuffrida Park, a 600-acre park in Meriden, Connecticut where quiet forests crowd the shores of Crescent Lake and ascend to the traprock summit of Chauncey Peak. This park is not administered by the State of Connecticut, but is instead owned and managed by the City of Meriden. Giuffrida Park is only one such town-owned hiking location; there are likely hundreds scattered throughout the state. Of course, a great deal of the parks owned by local government tend not be “natural areas”, but are rather maintained as landscaped open spaces or sports fields. Nonetheless, even with town-owned natural spaces being in the minority, they are still quite numerous and easily double the number of hiking locations offered by state government.

Even more numerous than both state-owned and city-owned parks combined are those that are administered by land trusts. Land trusts are generally non-profit organizations that work to preserve and protect as much land as possible, usually in en ligne casino france the interest of preserving the land against future development or ecologically-unsound use. Some land trusts, like the Madison Land Conservation Trust, focus their efforts exclusively upon protecting land in a specific town or city. Others work to protect entire regions of the state, such as the Joshua”s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, which administers preserved land throughout Northeastern Connecticut.

The Nature Conservancy, in contrast, is an internationally-renowned conservation organization which operates a bit differently, protecting land all over the world based more so on ecological uniqueness and scientific importance, rather than geographic location. Many of Connecticut”s most unique preserves are administered solely or jointly by The Nature Conservancy, including Cornwall”s Cathedral Pines Preserve, Glastonbury”s Cotton Hollow Preserve, Scotland”s Rock Spring Preserve, and Devil”s Den Preserve in Weston and Redding (to name only a few). The National Audubon Society is another example of a conservation group with cosmopolitan influence that has protected considerable land in Connecticut. Generally, Audubon nature preserves are known as “sanctuaries”, reflecting the organization”s interest in providing lasting habitat for bird populations.

Even the national government has taken an interest in Connecticut lands. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, for example, passes through some 50 miles of northwestern Connecticut. To the south, Stewart McKinney National Wildlife Refuge spans more than 70 miles of Connecticut”s shoreline, protecting delicate coastal ecosystems and providing safe havens for birds and other wildlife.

Because the total breadth of protected land in Connecticut is administered by so many different entities -national government, state government, local government, local and regional land trusts, and international conservation groups- it can be quite difficult to come by cumulative statistics. This author is confident in estimating that, between all of these land holders, there are at least 1,000 distinct parcels of conservation land and water within Connecticut, ranging in size from a few acres to a few thousand acres. With so many places to see, it could take a couple lifetimes laid end-to-end to genuinely experience each one.

About this Photograph
Photograph of Giuffrida Park © 2011 J.G. Coleman Photography. View more photography by Trails of Freedom Chief Researcher, Justin Coleman, at J. G. Coleman Photography.