Study On Connecticut Highlands: A Natural Resources Review

As part of the Highlands Conservation Act, PL 108-241, a study was conducted on the highlands of Connecticut in an effort to identify its most valuable natural resources. The results of this study will be presented to the public in meetings and forums and inputs from the people of Connecticut would be needed to complete the resource assessment.

The finalized assessment shall be used to identify the possible effects of changes in land use to these resources. Knowing these effects can help identify conservation needs and strategies, and to draw more effort in protecting the natural resources in the highland regions of Connecticut.

The results of the study shall be posted in public websites so people can review the results of the resource assessment for Connecticut. The citizens, communities and local governments can be provided with a picture of the areas natural value. These results can be compared with other states in the Highlands region. Resources being considered here are water, biological, forests, agriculture and recreational/cultural and is presented in whole as the Conservation Values Assessment.

The resource assessment was used to identify areas which require the highest conservation needs in the highlands of Connecticut. By identifying this high priority area, the state will be permitted to develop programs for conservation projects. The state can now partner with other entities to make it eligible for grants from the federal government.

The study team was formed with the USDA Forest Service on the lead, with members from the University of Connecticut and the Regional Plan Association. Participants from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey also joined the team. Other members include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Housatonic Valley Association.

The study also involved the community by soliciting values and perceptions from the public regarding the Highlands. Group discussions were organized with the study team members and using computer models and maps were able to include the participants’ views and comments.

The Resource Assessment for Connecticut classified the natural resources into five major groups. This same model will be used for similar studies performed or will be performed in other states. These groups include:

* Water: streams, lakes, and other aquatic bodies including underground sources of water.

* Biological: refers to native flora and fauna which were categorized according to importance based on rarity or the richness in diversity.

* Agriculture: refers to both resource and land use. Agriculture is a source for food and space as well as benefits to the economy.

* Forests: provides one of the greatest concerns on top of being the natural habitat for most plants and animals. Forests also provide fiber and timber, as well as cleaning the air and filtering toxins from water before reaching watersheds.

* Recreational and Cultural: Community groups have always clamored about the inclusion of these values.

This initial study performed will be finalized by considering the implications of continuous land use for areas with high resource value. The pattern and rate of land use will be documented, and growth in this area will be assessed to determine its impact on the environment. In line with this, conservation strategies will be developed to achieve a renewable source.

Samson Paulotti writes about what’s important for homeowners for Connecticut Restoration and Restoration Industry Resources

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