Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge

Over the past century, many shrublands and young forests across the Northeast have been cleared for development or have grown into mature forests. As this habitat has disappeared from much of the landscape, the populations of more than 65 songbirds, mammals, reptiles, pollinators, and other wildlife that depend on it have fallen alarmingly.

Last spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to establish the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge dedicated to managing shrubland habitat for wildlife and connecting existing conservation areas (including GOSA properties) in southeastern New London and western Litchfield. The agency has also identified nine areas in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. To read the full release, click HERE. GOSA is thrilled with the plan and hopes to assist Fish and Wildlife in its efforts to identify properties in the area that will fit into this federal conservation plan.

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Constitutional Amendment Needed to Protect Open Space

GOSA’s President and Treasurer traveled to Hartford’s Legislative Office Building on March 14th, 2016 to testify at a hearing held by the Government Administration and Elections Committee on two bills pertaining to one issue: the sale, trade and gift of public lands to developers, municipalities, and others by means of the Conveyance Act.

The Town of Groton, in collaboration with a local representative, hoped to acquire 68 acres of Mystic River waterfront land owned by the State (now known as the Mystic Education Center, formerly the Mystic Oral School) for development. This parcel of land is one of the last undeveloped open spaces on the Mystic River. Both spoke in opposition to the Conveyance Act and in support of a constitutional amendment to make the process more transparent and protective of open space. Read GOSA’s Call to Action!, and articles in The Day and in the CT News Junkie about the plan, which ultimately failed.

In January 2017 GOSA learned that, once again, a conveyance of 10 acres of Mystic Education Center Land is in process.

Constitutional Amendment to Better Protect Open Space in CT  Responding to many the attempts over the years to hand over public land to developers, municipalities, and others with no intention of protecting it, Canton State Senator Kevin Witkos has called for a constitutional amendment to protect open space in Connecticut. People who want to save their favorite picnic spots, hiking trails, fishing holes, wildlife watching areas, and recreational space for the future should get behind the proposed amendment. David Leff, the former deputy commissioner for the state DEP who approached Witkos with the amendment idea, reminded us of our “sacred duty to be good stewards” of public lands. “No generation has the right to damage them or give them away.” New York, Maine, and Massachusetts have long had constitutional provisions to protect valuable open space from lawmakers tempted to peddle public properties. It’s time that Connecticut joined them.”

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