Governor Lamont Kicks Off 2022 Connecticut State Parks Season, Highlights Recreational Opportunities Across State
Residents and Visitors Urged to Use Caution Boating and Swimming; Lifeguard and Other Great Summer Job Opportunities Remain Available With DEEP
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes today kicked off the beginning of the state parks summer season in Connecticut ahead of Memorial Day weekend. As the Connecticut State Park system continues to bring on temporary staff for the busy summer months, some great seasonal job opportunities are available.
“Our state parks are among the premier tourism destinations in the region and are a huge part of the tremendous quality of life here in Connecticut,” Governor Lamont said. “Our parks are also a huge boon to our state and local economy – we welcomed 13 million visitors to our state parks last year. During the pandemic, we kept our state parks open knowing that they provide a necessary service to support physical and mental health. We understand how important our parks are to folks, that’s why we’ve relaunched the ParkConneCT program, and that’s why we’ve invested historic levels of funding to improve and upgrade our state park infrastructure. So come on out to the state parks this summer, have fun and please be safe.”
Connecticut has 110 state parks and 32 state forests, which include 14 campgrounds, 23 designated swimming areas, thousands of miles of trails, and hundreds of thousands of acres to enjoy. The state parks offer opportunities for hiking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking, among many other outdoor activities.
A directory of every state park in Connecticut can be found online by visiting www.ct.gov/deep/stateparks.
Connecticut also manages 117 boat launches across the state on ponds, lakes, rivers and Long Island Sound. Information on these facilities can be found online by visiting portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Boating/Boating-and-Paddling.
As a reminder, the Passport to the Parks program provides that all visitors driving in Connecticut-registered vehicles can enter without paying any parking fee. This program is supported through a $15 fee ($5 per year) included with all non-commercial vehicle registrations through the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. This funding has provided a stable and predictable source of funding to support the operations of state parks.
“We are so fortunate to have so many beautiful parks in our state to recreate in,” Commissioner Dykes said. “Thanks to the Passport to Parks program, visiting Connecticut’s state parks is incredibly convenient and enjoyable for those with Connecticut registered vehicles, and the ParkConneCT program will provide access to several parks to those for whom transportation is a barrier. We hope you’ll spend some time this summer in your state parks, or on state waterbodies, having fun but also recreating responsibly and safely. And to anyone looking for a summer job, we hope you’ll consider applying to join our lifeguard program, or any of our other amazing seasonal opportunities.”
ParkConneCT Launch – Free Public Transportation to Seven State Parks
For the summer of 2022, DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) will again partner to provide and expand the ParkConneCT program, providing public transit options for safe and reliable transportation to Hammonasset Beach, Silver Sands, Fort Trumbull, Osbornedale, Indian Well, Sleeping Giant and Sherwood Island State Parks. This is a free transit service which will run from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
“We’re pleased to once again support ParkConneCT this summer season,” CTDOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “From buses to shuttles and trains to trolleys, many modes of transportation get people where they need to be safely and efficiently. Providing fare free services for the ParkConneCT program helps expand access to these beautiful parks and beaches for residents across Connecticut.”
DEEP Continues to Actively Recruit for Seasonal Lifeguard and Other Summer Jobs
Lifeguard positions are still available at several inland and shoreline swimming areas, including Black Rock State Park (Watertown), Burr Pond State Park (Torrington), Indian Well State Park (Shelton), Sherwood Island State Park (Westport), Silver Sands State Park (Milford), and Squantz Pond State Park (New Fairfield). The deadline to apply is June 17, 2022. To learn more about lifeguard jobs and to apply online, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Seasonal-Employment/Lifeguard-Program.
Other seasonal jobs, including positions for park operations and maintenance, and seasonal boating education assistants at many of the state park beaches and boat launches, remain available this summer. To learn more about these positions and to apply online, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Human-Resources/Seasonal/Seasonal-Employment.
Campground Reservations Can Be Made Now
While state park and forest campgrounds are fully booked for Memorial Day weekend, there is a lot of availability for the remainder of the summer season. Campground reservations for all state campgrounds can be made online through Reserve America or by calling 1-877-668-CAMP (2267).
Lifeguards and Swimming Safety
DEEP urges all residents and visitors getting in or on the water to prioritize water safety.
Water temperatures continue to be cold this time of year, despite warmer air temperatures. There is a very real danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter very cold water for any extended period.
Visitors to state parks should also be aware that while there will be lifeguards on duty at Hammonasset Beach and Rocky Neck State Parks, many locations will not have lifeguards on duty. It is important to remember that water safety is everyone’s responsibility.
If you do enter the water, remember:
- Parents and guardians: Watch your children. It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently.
- Be aware of underwater hazards: Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, holes, large rocks, or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be dangerous.
- Swim only in the designated areas and swim with a buddy.
- Take a swimming lesson: Swimming skills can help save lives. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at local YMCAs or municipal parks and recreation departments.
- Drink responsibly: Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment. Swim sober.
- Know your limits, including physical fitness and medical conditions.
- Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
DEEP reminds all boaters that cold water temperatures create substantial dangers to recreational boaters, despite the possibility of warm air temperatures. Paddlers should exercise caution and use proper equipment, practice safety techniques, wear a life jacket (it’s the law through the end of May), and avoid dangerous situations. Paddlers should always be prepared for a sudden cold-water immersion. Over the last six years, Connecticut families have grieved the loss of seven paddler fatalities during spring’s cold water boating season.
- Always wear your life jacket: Connecticut law requires anyone in canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or stand-up paddleboards to wear a properly fitting life jacket between October 1 and May 31. If a boater ends up in the water, a life jacket will make someone more visible to other boaters and will keep them afloat, significantly improving chances for survival.
- Do not paddle alone: Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into the boat should someone fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.
- Dress for cold water: Paddlers should dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all are still below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered cold water. Cold water immersion increases the risk of cold-water shock and involuntary gasp reflex which is a leading cause of drowning.
- File a float plan: Make a travel plan, including details on location and time of departure and return, and provide it to someone. Give them a call when boating has ended, and identify who to call in case of emergency.
- Maintain a proper lookout: Damaged docks, pilings, and trees may be floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound. Boaters should be especially vigilant when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.
To learn more about cold water boating and paddling in Connecticut, visit the DEEP Boating website at portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Boating/Paddling/Paddling-in-Connecticut.
Be a Good Steward of State Parks
The state parks belong to everyone, so everyone has a responsibility to keep them clean for the next visitor. Dispose of any waste in a receptacle or take it with you if there isn’t one. If we all do our part, our state parks will stay beautiful for those who come after us.