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24th Annual Greenways Awards Celebrate Connecticut’s Trails

Awards Kick Off Connecticut Trails Day this Weekend

(HARTFORD) - The Connecticut Greenways Council (CGC) held its 24th Annual CT Greenway Awards this morning at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Connecticut. The event is traditionally held on the Friday before CT Trails Day, which occurs this weekend on June 3 and 4, 2023. A new greenway in Branford, CT was designated at the event, and awards were given out to six organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of greenways in Connecticut. 

“Connecting Connecticut residents with the outdoors has never been more important, and greenways play a vital role in providing those benefits,” said Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes. “Our outdoor recreation economy keeps growing because of the people and organizations we’re thrilled to honor today. By championing the contributions of greenways, they’re helping protect our natural resources and enhancing our recreational opportunities all across the state.”

What’s a greenway?

A greenway is a corridor of open space that may protect natural resources, preserve scenic landscapes and historical resources, or offer opportunities for recreation or nonmotorized transportation. A greenway may also connect existing protected areas and provide access to the outdoors; may be located along a defining natural feature, such as a waterway; along a man-made corridor, including an unused right-of-way, traditional trail routes or historic barge canals; or may be a greenspace along a highway or around a village.

Newly designated greenway:

The Branford Trail: The 30-mile Branford Trail is a unique trail that closely follows a majority of the town's perimeter. The white circle blazed trail passes through the shoreline, wetlands, many town parks, northerly woodlands, and many Branford Land Trust properties. The trail is separated into eight sections that begin and end at a public road with space for parking. Every home in Branford is within 15-minutes walking time of a trail.

This year’s awardees:

  • Linda Colangelo: Linda has been on the leading edge of promoting the nexus between public health and trails use in Connecticut. The NDDH/HealthQuest ConNECTicuTRAILS initiative connects partners, people, and places to natural physical activity spaces, including more than 500 miles of trails in The Last Green Valley Heritage Corridor. She has also been supporting the Outdoor Rx CT physician campaign to prescribe time in nature for patient physical and mental health, and the many partners working together to raise awareness.
  • Eric Hansen: A principle of Ferrucci and Walicki, LLC consulting forestry company where he plays an integral role throughout Connecticut in forestry practices as well as future planning and land use. Eric engages Junior Young Foresters of CT, to continue the training and expertise of young adults integrating into the field of forestry as well as other major stakeholders in the state. Eric works with Eversource Energy, First Light Power, Audubon, CT DEEP, individual municipalities, as well as numerous NGOs.
  • Norfolk Rails to Trails: The Norfolk Rails to Trails Committee has been working over the past five years to develop a section of the abandoned CNE railroad bed now known as the North Brook Trail. This is the first of many sections linking North Canaan, Norfolk Center and eventually the town of Winchester. The group formalized the Norfolk Mountain Express Accessible Greenway in 2022 and has been awarded a Recreational Trails Grant to begin trail construction in the 2023 grant round. Each fall the group organizes the Norfolk Tour de Forest gravel biking event as a fundraiser and to bring attention to their trail planning efforts.
  • Reddington Rock Riding Club: RRRC members have donated hundreds of hours to maintaining the trails in the Northeastern corner of our state and through partnerships with land management entities such as the Northern CT Land Trust, the towns of Somers and Stafford, and CT DEEP, and will continue to do so for years to come.
  • East Hampton Air Line State Park Trail Gap Closure: Recognition of Jeanne Davies of CT RC&D, Sam Gold of CT River COG, and Jeremy Hall of East Hampton for collaboration on planning and funding efforts to complete the closure of the gap in the Air Line SP Trail between East Hampton and Portland, CT.

Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county in the state and may include paved or unpaved trail systems, ridgelines, or linked parcels of open space. Many other communities around Connecticut have chosen, through greenway designation, to recognize the importance of river corridors for natural resource protection, recreational opportunities, and scenic values. The CT Greenways Council webpage contains details on how to propose designations, get assistance, and view a map of our state greenways.

Anyone interested in supporting greenways can consider purchasing a Connecticut Greenways license plate. These plates both raise the public awareness of the importance of our greenways and provide funding for state and local efforts to preserve, restore and protect our greenways. 

The Greenway Awards also mark the unofficial kick-off to National Trails Day (known locally as “Connecticut Trails Day”), a two-day event that occurs the first weekend of June every year to promote Connecticut’s diverse trail offerings. This year, nearly 200 Connecticut Trails Day events will occur June 3-4, which has more events than any other state in the nation. Please visit the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s Trails Day webpage to find a hike, nature walk, paddle, or trail maintenance event happening in your area.

Sky's the Limit (STL)

Connecticut State Parks & Public Outreach Division invites the public to take its challenge to get outside for some fresh air and fun physical exercise. Hike and walk the highlighted locations/trails and take designated photos along the way to experience this year’s STL theme, “In, Under, Over and Through CT State Parks and Forests.” Fifteen park or forest locations have been identified for participants to explore, with varying scenery and highlights at each location. Walk up a tower, go underground, enjoy a scenic vista, or explore a linear trail. While anyone is encouraged to use the list of locations to find an outing, participants who complete a certain number of hikes and submit the appropriate documentation listed on its webpage no later than December 1, 2023, may be eligible to receive fun recognition for their efforts. Those who take the challenge can experience five (5) rails-to-trails locations as well as ten (10) state park or forest locations.

CT Rail Trail Explorer (5) Sites:
Air Line State Park Trail
Larkin State Park Trail
Moosup State Park Trail (Moosup Valley Trail)
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
Hop River State Park Trail

CT State Park or Forest (10) Sites:
Auerfarm State Park Scenic Reserve
Camp Columbia State Park
Chatfield Hollow State Park
Haystack Mountain State Park
Hopemead State Park
Machimoodus State Park
Mianus River State Park
Mount Riga State Park
Mount Tom State Park
Windsor Locks Canal State Park

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