National parks are a truly wonderful part of our national landscape and have countless benefits. In addition to providing permanent environmental protections they are also great for the local economies that they exist in. In most of the recent debates I’ve participated in I have suggested that Connecticut needs a new national park. In fact, I think we need at least four new national parks (to bring our total to five).
Currently the only national park in Connecticut is the small but quaint Weir Farm in Ridgefield. Considering the geographic diversity and environmental beauty that extends across the entirety of our small state, it is imperative that we protect, in perpetuity, the places in Connecticut that have yet to be developed (and in some cases restore areas that have been developed).
The first two of the four new parks should be in the southern part of the state. The first would protect the lower Connecticut River Valley, including most of the 33rd state senate district. The Connecticut River is one of the only rivers of its size in the world not to have a major port at its mouth. In fact, this area has received international recognition for its nearly pristine natural beauty. Anyone that has spent time in this area knows just how beautiful it is, unfortunately, much of it lacks any kind of formal protection. Additionally, although the majority of people who live in the vicinity of it appreciate the wonder of the Connecticut River it is largely ignored by many of our current elected officials.
The second park I’m suggesting is a Long Island Sound National Seashore. Like the Connecticut River, Long Island Sound is also a national treasure. Also like the Connecticut River, protection of Long Island Sound is inadequate and woefully underfunded. Moreover, much of the Connecticut coast has been stolen by a wealthy minority that believe that they can own what is actually a public right- access to our coast. It’s long past time that we take back our beaches from the wealthy and put them back where they rightfully belong- in the hands of the public.
The final two parks I’m proposing would be primarily in the northern counties of Connecticut. One would be in northeastern Connecticut and encompass much of what is referred to as the ‘Last Green Valley‘. The area gets that moniker because it is essentially the largest tract of mostly undeveloped land between Portland, Maine and Washington D.C. The second new park would lay primarily in Litchfield County and protect our northwest highlands. Each of these parks could reach into neighboring states (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York) and become regional attractions.
The environmental benefits of national parks is obvious and I don’t feel the need to go into much detail here. The one thing I will say is that we need to take big steps to permanently protect our environment before our most beautiful and important places are destroyed forever.
Finally, according to the National Park Conservation Association national parks help to generate $31 billion for local economies every year. Furthermore, according to the NPCA for every one dollar invested in national park operations ten dollars is returned to local communities. Finally, in the economic benefit category, the NPCA states that eight of the top 25 top tourist destinations in the U.S. are national parks. Clearly, the economic benefits alone make national parks a no-brainer.
Designating a national park takes an act of Congress and considering how utterly incompetent Congress has become, it will likely take a lot of hard work to make any new national park in Connecticut a reality. That said, regardless of whether or not I’m elected this year, working toward the goal of achieving new national parks in Connecticut is something I plan to put a lot of effort into over the coming years. If you have any interest in helping, please let me know. In the meantime, I hope I can count on your vote on November 4th.
My priorities are improving job growth through ramping up the state’s clean energy economy, improving education for all of our children and young people, and stabilizing taxes for low and middle income families. In the coming weeks I’ll post more specific information on each of these priorities as well on other issues relevant to this race. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to know my thoughts on an issue, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just comment on this post.