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CT Greenways Council to Hold 25th Annual Greenway Awards and Kick Off CT Trails Day Events

One New and One Greenway Extended, Five Awards

(HARTFORD) — The Connecticut Greenways Council (CGC) will host its 25th Annual CT Greenway Awards at Riverfront Recapture’s Boathouse in Hartford on Friday, May 31. The event is traditionally held on the Friday before CT Trails Day, which occurs the weekend of June 1 and 2.

The Farm River Greenway in East Haven will be formally designated at Friday’s event, and the extension of the Woodbridge Greenway will be recognized. Awards will be given out to five organizations and 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.

“Connecticut's Greenways connect open spaces for the benefit of our communities by enhancing recreational opportunities, protecting watersheds, and maintaining wildlife corridors,” Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “We are excited to celebrate 25 years of Connecticut Greenways, with a new addition in the City of East Haven! Our statewide trails and greenways would not be protected, maintained, and enhanced without committed professionals and volunteers. We are deeply appreciative and want to congratulate this year’s awardees.”

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. 

Newly designated and extended greenways:

  • The Woodbridge Greenway ExpansionThe Woodbridge Greenway Trail was originally designated as a formal CT Greenway in 2002, including a 12-mile corridor that provides passive recreation, protection of natural habitats, and preservation of community character as it connects open spaces. It is a central link in a regional greenway system which includes New Haven, Hamden, Bethany, Seymour, Ansonia, and Derby. The Town has requested an extension of the Greenway of over five miles to achieve several objectives. Beyond the conservation and environmental impacts, the Conservation Commission recognizes that the Woodbridge Greenway can serve to help meet the town goals pertaining to building a connected community, as described in the Plan of Conservation and Development, and, by providing walking paths to major town locations, reducing traffic, and promoting healthy lifestyles. These locations include the library, town hall, Alice Newton Street Memorial Park, the high school, the Fitzgerald Fields, the Alegi property playground and soccer fields, Center Road playground and ball fields, the JCC, and the Business District. The Greenway can also provide access to the town’s historic sites.
  • The Farm River Greenway, East Haven The Farm River Greenway connects approximately 1.5 miles of municipal open space including mixed upland and wetland riparian zone habitat that stretch across and connect several residential street crossings. The Town of East Haven in partnership with the Southwestern Conservation District have proposed a Greenway Trail that links five distinct experiences within the Farm River which integrate green stormwater infrastructure and ecological restoration to recreational access.

This year’s awardees:

  • Kristen Bellantuono Kristen has served the public through her roles at DEEP for more than 27 years, and for the past seven years has coordinated the Sky’s the Limit and No Child Left Inside programs. DEEP State Parks staff and its partners host environmental themed programs which include: fishing, boating, birding/wildlife, hiking, bicycling, nature centers, historic building and museums, and a family day in the park. Over the past year, Kristen has supported the launch of the CT State Parks Storywalk® Program, partnering with CT State Library to establish Storywalks® at four state parks and forests throughout the state. Anyone who has worked with Kristen knows her dedication to getting everyone outdoors, that she will work with any interested partners, and is always willing to support and coordinate with her DEEP colleagues.
  • John Bolduc John serves as the President and a founding member of the Hop River Trail Alliance, an organization of volunteers, town representatives from each of the seven trail towns, and DEEP dedicated to the care and promotion of the Hop River State Park Trail for transportation, recreation and economic development. John has spent countless hours organizing volunteers and trail maintenance days on the “Hop” and is constantly advocating for maintenance and improvement of state-wide multi-use trails.
  • Granby Horse Council The Granby Horse Council (GHC) has actively supported the trail systems for equestrians and others for 45 years. The organization continues to promote and protect the rights of horse owners in Granby and surrounding towns. The members promote multi-use trails in Granby and surrounding towns. The members are kept informed of the guidelines for using town properties, land trust properties, McLean Game Refuge, and the Rails to Trails Greenway through Granby, East Granby, Suffield, and Southwick, Massachusetts. GHC members are actively maintaining trails from Salmon Brook Park in Granby and the Holcomb Farm in West Granby.
  • Joseph Lanier Joe has worked tirelessly over a span of 15 years to teach youth the value of the outdoors and trails. He teaches biology at Oxford High School and runs a Youth Conservation Corps that maintains and builds trails in the Rockhouse Hill Preserve. Joe also has been raising funds for his program and for the trails via grants, crowdfunding, and donations from local businesses. He is fully dedicated to working with the town government, NEMBA, DEEP, the local land trusts and other recreational groups (including Gaylord Hospital Adaptive and Unified Sports at Oxford High School) to ensure a wonderful outdoor experience for all. Many of his Youth Corps members have gone on to study ecology and other outdoor-related subjects as well as serving in other conservation corps while in college. He is a humble person but has had such a positive influence on his students and the groups with which he partners, and has helped everyone gain an appreciation for trails and the outdoors.
  • Ken Sek Ken has been key to the success of activities of South Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways, especially the fourth-grade bicycle safety program. He has been key to recruiting, organizing, and scheduling the volunteers as well as being a certified instructor working nearly all the sessions. He also has organized the road cleaning events in South Windsor for several years. He has been present as a volunteer and participant at nearly all other activities. He has taken meeting minutes and published them for many meetings. He has been one of a small group that worked on the original Bicycle Friendly Community application and application for the Connecticut Recreational Trail Grant for the South Windsor Cross Town Trail.

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 1-2, 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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DEEP Communications