wild & scenic river study
The state of Connecticut's Eight Mile River Watershed
has slowly been getting closer to federal recognition as a wild and scenic river. So it was with interest that I went to an open house held by the Eight Mile Study Committee
The event was very well attended, so much so that Anthony Irving [Chairman of the Study group] and Nathan Frohling [Nature Conservancy] had to deliver their presentation three times.
There were "sample" copies of the 8 Mile River Watershed Management Plan [all of which are available online
] developed by the study committee, and a series of rather detailed maps to review various things the study looked at [current build-out contrasted with maximum potential build-out]. The maps are not yet online but the presenters indicated they will be up soon.
There were many questions about how all of this would prevent unused land from being developed [which around these parts is code for "vacation homes" and McMansions]. One housing speculator questioned about "development rights" as if developing land were an inherent right even if the speculator didn't own the land being discussed. Others asked about recreational uses and tourism. I was concerned about how we protect the watershed for future generations' use as a water resource and questioned whether or not by holding this area pristine how would that impact on other parts of the immediate three-town region.
But there were two who asked their question after the crowd dispersed, which was too bad, because their query hadn't been asked, and listening to the response warranted being heard by all.
These two men, a father and son-in-law team, were perplexed about what all this meant to their plans to develop their own acreage for their own family's future growth. It sounded to them that those who asked questions seemed mostly to be folks whove moved here in the past few years, got their McMansions and personal enclaves built and secured and now wanted to keep everybody else out. Good point. I'd venture to guess that their guess was on the mark for maybe a third of the audience.
And it leaves the question, what does one do? The beleagured local family, caught between climbing taxes and land values, wanting to plan for growth responsibly and mostly hearing well off newcomers carp about shutting out the world now that they've built their 4,000 square foot retirement cottage.
There's a whole 'nother part of this discussion that has to take place and that's how to provide people with the tools to make sound land use decisions while factoring in their own growth.
Forgetting this is perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of the land preservation movement. Nows the time to do someting about it. But what?