Open Space Planning
Regional Open Space Planning Effort (2023)
SCCOG serves 22 cities, towns, and boroughs. Each of those has its own departments doing work around open space; conservation commissions, parks & rec departments, wetland commissions, etc. In addition to that, the region boasts 14 Land Trusts and over 30 non-profits that engage in some form of conservation or recreation work here. The region’s institutions of higher learning have their own departments and student groups dedicated to environmental work, and then of course there are state and federal entities with their own interests in the region. Despite significant efforts made to protect open space resources by these various stakeholders, the region lacks a unifying vision of how to connect and leverage that energy at the regional level. Work tends to focus on a particular jurisdiction, project area or on a specific issue, and is often driven by opportunistic considerations rather than a carefully constructed set of regional priorities. This silos efforts and funding, hampering the ability to maximize scarce dollars, achieve multiple benefits for people and the environment, and attract additional funding. Environmental systems don’t end at municipal boundaries, nor do the risks of failure to plan for conservation or the benefits brought by a well-planned and connected open space system.
The last Regional Open Space Plan was completed in 1968 and it is not hard to see that much has changed in southeastern Connecticut and world since then. The SCCOG Open Space Plan, in addition to coordinating efforts across the region, seeks to produce three primary outcomes:
- A Comprehensive Open Space Inventory that will provide an up-to-date accounting of all protected and publicly accessible lands in the region, making the information easy to access and easy to maintain.
- An Open Space Data Hub that will help stakeholders make informed decisions about lands to prioritize for protection.
- Municipal action plans to align local priorities with regional and state goals for open space.
Vital to these efforts is the participation of the community. A public survey is available in the links section that will ask how residents use, or would like to use, open space in the region. In addition, SCCOG is hosting a series of public workshops where the public will have the opportunity to contribute to the planning process. The workshops will be held: