Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a new open space grant worth $5.9 million on Friday, with a portion allocated to Mansfield, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Preserving the best of Connecticut’s open space is critical to protecting our land, water and wildlife, and enduring Connecticut maintains its natural beauty,” Malloy said.
Mansfield received $243,750 of this grant, the equivalent of 61 new acres of land. This new preserve will be located off Meadowbrook Lane connected to Mansfield’s Sawbrook Mill Preserve and Joshua’s Trust Wolf Rock Preserve. These three preserves now total 249 acres, according to Mansfield Parks and Recreation documents.
“This parcel was strategically targeted for preservation because it connects up to Sawmill Brook Preserve, making a bigger continuous area of preserved open land. It’s also got a section of the Nipmuck Trail, so it has recreational value, too,” associate professor and state ornithologist Margaret Rubega said. “The grants are most effective when they are used strategically to preserve the biggest possible plots of open land … so that animals can move around safely.”
The grant was administered through the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). This partnership has currently created 500,242 acres of preserved open space in Connecticut, according to the press release.
“This funding is another step toward meeting our goal of preserving 21 percent of Connecticut’s land, or 673,210 acres, as open space by the year 2023,” DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said.
19 percent of Connecticut’s population lives within a 10-minute drive of these 17 new preserves. The state also allocated $500,000 for environmental education and eight community gardens, according to the press release.
“I’m really pleased, as a Mansfield resident, that the town is thinking ahead. … As Mansfield grows it gets more important, not less, to protect open space,” Rubega said.
Despite positive reactions to this grant there has been concern in recent years about the cost and efficiency of these grants. However, some ecologists disagree, including Rubega, who is in the ecology and evolutionary biology department.
“Concern about tax dollars going to ‘empty space’ misses the point that these places are neither empty, nor idle,” Rubega said. “The wetlands in this parcel … are still helping to regulate water flow. You miss them only when they are gone, and your basement fills with water after a heavy rainfall.”
Sarah McNeal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.