Each year, CLCC adopts a set of state legislative priorities to present to the CT General Assembly and federal priorities to pursue in Washington, D.C.
The 2022 Connecticut General Assembly convenes on February 9.
Significantly increasing investments in land conservation programs and incorporating working and natural lands into Connecticut’s goals and implementation plans to address the climate crisis are at the top of CLCC’s 2022 list of policy priorities which include the following:
CHAMPION significant increases in funding for the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program, Urban Green and Community Garden Program, Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program, Recreational Trails & Greenways Program, and other CT DEEP land conservation programs. These programs are essential to Connecticut meeting its land conservation goals yet they are chronically underfunded and insufficient to meet increasing demand.
PROTECT the Community Investment Act (CIA). A dedicated account set up outside the budget for open space, farmland preservation, and other land use programs, it is consistently at risk of raids and cuts. CLCC seeks to ensure CIA funds stay intact and dedicated.
STRENGTHEN CT DEEP’s ability to promptly fill vacancies and new positions, streamline grant administration, and engage in public-private partnerships that help DEEP meet its mission, maintain service levels, and maximize the state’s ability to leverage existing and new federal funds for land conservation, parks, and greenspace development.
CLCC was recently (April 2021) awarded $6.7 million from the federal government to build a public-private partnership with DEEP to bring federal matching dollars to land trusts applying to the OSWA grant program. Read more here. With these and other anticipated federal funds, it has never been more important, or a more opportune time, to significantly increase state investments (both dollars and staff) into land conservation programs. Without it, we risk leaving those federal dollars on the table and losing the opportunity to protect thousands of acres of land.
ENSURE natural and working lands and other nature-based climate solutions are incorporated into Connecticut’s goals and implementation plans to mitigate climate change through policy and legislation. The benefits of land conservation for the climate work both ways — absorbing greenhouse gases and also preventing the release of significant levels of carbon emissions that would be caused by deforestation and conversion of open lands to active development. CLCC will advocate for specific state policies that include: increasing forest cover and urban tree canopies; avoiding forest conversion; and incentivizing land conservation and stewardship practices that maximize potential for carbon storage.