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Anniversary Ceremony Brings Warning For Future of State Parks

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Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman speaks at a ceremony at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill honoring the 100th anniversary of the state parks. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman speaks at a ceremony at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill honoring the 100th anniversary of the state parks. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

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At a ceremony celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of the first purchase of land for a state park, there was a warning about the future of Connecticut’s park system.

Speaking to a gathering of state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials and outdoors enthusiasts at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut Forest and Park Association Executive Director Eric Hammerling said there is a lack of resources.

“We are getting dangerously close to losing our vision of an optimistic future for the state park system,” Hammerling said.

Hammerling said a diminishing workforce of state employees who take care of the parks has taken a toll over the last decade, although he praised the current administration for making infrastructure improvements.

Centennial Committee Chairman Pam Adams says the parks protect more than 6-miles of Connecticut’s coast.

“Connecticut’s parks are looking pretty good, at a hundred years of age,” Hammerling said.  “I would venture that Albert Turner and the original park commissioners would be very pleased to see how their baby has grown and matured over this past century.”

Albert Turner was the first employee to work on the state parks.  He surveyed possible locations for some of the earliest state parks.

Adams said the parks protect valuable natural resources and prehistoric sites, as well as the state’s essence, by saving some of its industrial, cultural, philanthropic, military, and technicological history.

In 1913, the first land was purchased for a park, at what later become Sherwood Island State Park.  That location opened to the public 17-years later.

In the coming months, birthday parties will be held in the parks, and a biking, hiking, and kayaking trip across the state is planned for later this month.

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