The Department of Environmental Protection draft plan for recreational trails is detailed in the Connecticut Recreational Trails Plan (PDF, 2.05 MB).
This document is the draft version of the DEP’s policy for the development and use of statewide recreational trails. The public will have an opportunity to comment on this draft until November 15, 2005. There will also be a public meeting on November 3 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in Middlefield.
Let’s get a HUGE showing of 4×4 recreationists to show the State of Connecticut that we’re here and we want our share of the trails in CT! If you can’t make it, all CT residents must address comments or questions to Leslie Lewis, State Parks Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106; (860) 424-3578 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15, 2005.
I’ve summarized the Draft Plan below:
The DEP believes one of the benefits to the CT trails is the strengthening of local economies, the only benefit that can be used to our advantage. Parts of their status report states there is "continuous illegal use of these [trail] systems by motorized off-road vehicles", CT constituents are interested in tourism and economic interests, and the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) "will continue to work with representatives of all user groups to develop a unified ‘voice’ for trails in Connecticut."
Goal #1: Ensure the continuity and linkage of trail systems around the state. This goal is to develop databases of maps; database of state, local and private open space; mapping of regional trails; determine threats to existing trails (mainly hiker trails, where there are interruptions make permanent easements, tax incentives); completing trail linkages, work with neighboring states; encourage inclusion of trails and greenways in municipal plans; ensure funding for trail/greenway efforts (motorized should raise their own funds for land acquisition).
Goal #2: Develop areas for all trail users in the state. Trail use should be made available to public; where feasible, implement DEP’s ATV policy and encourage development of motorized trails on other lands; map of equestrian accessible trails; expand mountain/street bike access; expand opportunities for "blueway" access; whenever feasible, provide parking and access for persons with disabilities; trails/greenways in urban areas; trailside amenities; year round access; trail research for current, future uses and needs.
Goal #3: Ensure public participation in and support of state trail programs. Important for various interests to work together (DEP will work with motorized groups to ensure all interests are represented in planning and decision-making processes); develop informational/educational materials; reach a larger constituency(ie health organizations); develop educational material on access/etiquette and change public perception that motorized users are "renegades who do not obey rules and regulations on existing trails" and while only a few are doing this they create a negative image for all.
Goal #4: Ensure construction and maintenance of trails in an environmentally sound manner. ATV proposed trails to be assessed prior to construction but few groups have the expertise for preliminary evaluation so information sharing important; provide guidance for construction/maintenance; utilize RTP; develop standardized protocols for state land; maintain trails as they are developed.
Goal #5: Utilize trails as educational media. Develop interpretive guides; use trails to inform the public about resource protection and management; develop trail "stories".