Great work, team!
The 2022 Legislative Session may have been a “short session”, but there was no shortage of action, and ultimately good news for natural and working lands.
Thanks to your advocacy, the FY 2023 Budget (House Bill 5506) included the following wins:
- $15 million in bond funding for the Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program (OSWA) which provides matching grants to municipalities, land trusts, and water companies for open space and watershed land conservation, and includes the Urban Green and Community Garden Program for community garden and greenspace development projects.
- Community Investment Act funding for open space remained intact.
- $6 million in bond funding for the Recreational Trails & Greenways Grant Program to support land trust and community trail projects and acquisition of land or easements for trails and trail corridors.
- $14 million in funding for climate smart agriculture programs for the Department of Agriculture.
- $52.5 million in funding for State Park infrastructure and $2.5 million added to Passport to the Parks for FY22 and FY23. (View CFPA’s re-cap for more details.)
- A requirement that schools teach climate change as a part of the science curriculum beginning July 2023. The mandate was originally included in HB5285. (View CLCC’s testimony)
In addition to the foregoing budget priorities, CLCC provided testimony on over 20 bills, including the following:
- SB117 (Support): Spurred by tree removal at Housatonic Meadows State Park, a version of the bill was approved, requiring the agency to develop a hazard tree mitigation policy and conduct a restoration pilot project at Housatonic Meadows.
- SB 491 (Oppose): Proposed conveying a portion of Housatonic Meadows State Park to a private party with no information regarding the property’s intended use. The bill died in the House (the only conveyance bill of the six proposed that was not called for a vote.)
- SB 10 (Support): Mandates reduction of greenhouse gas emission levels from electricity supplied to customers to zero percent by 2040. In written testimony, CLCC emphasized the importance of investing in nature-based climate solutions as part of a multi-faceted approach to reaching state greenhouse gas reduction goals — a position we will continue to prioritize as part of our land conservation mission.
Great work, team!
Investments in land conservation programs and protection of public lands are essential to meeting the state’s 21% open space goal, mitigating the impacts of climate change, keeping air and water clean, and improving the quality of life and strength of the economy in every community:
This good news gives us reason to celebrate as well as opportunities to take action including:
- Thank your legislators for supporting the FY 2023 budget investments in land conservation, trails and public lands;
- Invite them to join your land trust for a hike or other event to emphasize the importance of preserves, parks, farms, gardens, and trails to your community; and
- Contact us for assistance in applying for OSWA and UGCG. With more funding available, this is a great time to engage with landowners and move forward with priority projects.
Thank you again for all you do to protect, create, and enhance special places in your community for all to enjoy.