2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The Council acknowledges the contributions of environmentalists that have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all species on earth. Specifically, the Council acknowledges the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in coast-to-coast rallies.*
Since 1970, there has been significant improvement in air and water quality, the populations of certain species, and general awareness regarding the effects of human activities on the natural environment. However, there are still many challenges to be overcome including: climate change, deforestation, habitat destruction, species loss and extinction.
The Council appreciates the assistance of the many people in the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Transportation, and Public Health and the Connecticut Siting Council who, annually, provide data for this report. The advice and assistance of DEEP’s technical staff and of Connecticut Interactive were essential in the creation of the interactive, online version of this 2019 Annual Report.
As Earth Day’s 50th anniversary approaches it is appropriate to acknowledge the many individuals and organizations that have contributed greatly to the stewardship of Connecticut’s environment. This includes the many State employees who administered the environmental programs, put in place by the Legislature over the last five decades, who are now about to retire, or have retired, from a career of public service. The Council especially thanks the many citizens, businesses, and organizations who offered information and viewpoints about public policies, many of which led to the Council’s special reports over the years. The Council also appreciates the work of its Executive Director, Peter Hearn, and Paul Aresta, Environmental Analyst II, in drafting this report for review by the Council and preparing the final version for publication. Former member of the Council, Attorney Janet Brooks, proposed the idea of focusing much of the report on the environmental accomplishments and disappointments of the decades since 1970. The Council is appreciative of the work of Brigitte Vossler, the Council’s intern from Trinity College, who collected data that is referenced in the Report’s text. Lastly, the Council is grateful for the service of its Chair, Sue Merrow, who is soon to resign from that position and who, in the tradition of its many previous Chairs, provided wise guidance and inspirational leadership.
Image Credits: The "warming earth" symbol used to denote indicators affected by climate change was created by the Council. The images of the Ruffed Grouse, Box turtle, Blue-winged Warbler, Piping Plover, Eagle, and Osprey were obtained from Paul Fusco and the DEEP website. The image of the Asian tiger mosquito on the Invasive Insects page was provided by Susan Ellis. The image on the cover is of Kent Falls State Park in Kent and was provided by Paul Aresta. The Council greatly appreciates their generosity in allowing the use of these excellent images in this report.