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CT Greenways Council Holds 23rd Annual Greenway Awards and Kicks Off CT Trails Day Events

Four New Greenways Designated, Four Awards Given


(HARTFORD)- The Connecticut Greenways Council (CGC) held its 23rd Annual CT Greenway Awards this morning at the Poquonnock River Walkway in Groton. The event is traditionally held on the Friday before CT Trails Day, which occurs this weekend on June 4 and 5.

New greenways in Manchester, Rocky Hill, Norfolk, and Groton were designated at the event, and awards were given out to four individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of greenways in Connecticut. 

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.

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. 

“Greenways are so important to connecting Connecticut residents with the outdoors,” Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Mason Trumble said. “They provide so many benefits- mental and physical benefits to those who recreate on them, protect natural resources, and contribute to quality of life in a community and to our outdoor recreation economy. I’m thrilled that we are adding four new greenways to our Greenways list today! I also want to congratulate this year’s awardees for their tremendous contributions to promote greenways in Connecticut, and a special shout-out to DEEP’s own Laurie Giannotti for receiving a much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award for her important work with the CGC and the CT Recreational Trails grant program over the years.”

Newly designated greenways:

Cheney Rail Trail System: This greenway is a key component of the town wide, interconnected network.  It follows part of the corridor of the South Manchester Railroad, built by the Cheney brothers in 1869.  The Manchester Land Conservation Trust (MLCT) owns about 1.7 linear miles of the original rail bed. Connections to the East Coast Greenway and the Hop River Trail make it easily accessible as well.

Rocky Hill Greenway: Totals 4 miles from Quarry Park to the Dividend Pond Trail. The Greenway itself extends from the north at Matterson Ave. about 3 miles to the Cromwell border.  Visitors can visit parks and historic sites which the Greenway meanders through.

Norfolk Mountain Express Accessible Rail Trail: Once constructed, this trail will develop access for persons with disabilities and uses an existing railroad bed ROW. The Norfolk Rails to Trails Committee, Town of Norfolk and State of Connecticut have been working together 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.

Groton Cross Town Greenway and Tri-Town Trail Greenway: One is a section of the Tri-Town Trail and one for the Cross Town Greenway.

This year’s awardees:

  •  Ruth Strontzer: Involved in 4-H for decades; treasurer with the Connecticut Trail Rides Association; member, Connecticut Horse Council; representative, CT Equine Advisory Council. Ruth has helped organize club trail rides over the past 52 years showing others the wonderful state and private lands that are available in Connecticut to utilize on horseback.   
  • Lisa Watts: Strategic communications professional with a track record of helping nonprofit organizations advance their missions. Served as the Content Manager for the East Coast Greenway Alliance for almost 4 years; wrote the ECGA’s Guide to the East Coast Greenway: New Haven, Connecticut, to Providence, Rhode Island, by Bike or on Foot.

  • Mark Jewell - Spent the last 22 years as a project manager advancing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout New England and internationally. For the past 11 years has been working for CTDOT, as a member of the VHB team that assists CTDOT in managing all trail projects within the State’s Transportation Alternatives program.

  • Laurie Giannotti (Lifetime Achievement Award)– Recently retired from DEEP as head of the Trails & Greenways Program. Developed relationship between DEEP and CGC, facilitated the CT Recreational Trails grant program and worked to ensure the success of many trail projects. Went “above and beyond” to serve the committee and our outdoor spaces.

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 4-5 which is 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!




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