Exploring The Last Green Valley: DEEP is your access point to our state parks and forests


Exploring The Last Green Valley: DEEP is your access point to our state parks and forests

When was the last time you visited one of our many state parks and state forests? August is here, summer is moving quickly through the warm season, so now is the perfect time to plan a visit. Here in Connecticut the opportunities are boundless, especially within the towns of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.

Our state parks and forests are all managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. I took a quick look at the main page of their website and was pleased to see a redesigned site with easily accessed information. If you’re looking for a state park or forest, specific activities offered, camping and even volunteer opportunities, the main page has easy-to-access information with links to specific website locations. Here is the link for CT DEEP Parks and Forests website: https://bit.ly/2X7upPu.

One of the more significant changes to how our state parks and forests operate is that residents with a state of Connecticut vehicle license plate no longer pays parking fees at our state parks. The Passport to the Parks program was passed by the General Assembly in 2018. There is now an additional $5-per-year fee for registering or renewing your non-commercial vehicle in the state. The fee also allows the state to provide improved park maintenance, increased lifeguards at state beaches and longer hours for state museums and nature centers.

The new website provides easily accessed information on each park throughout the state with an interactive map of Connecticut and information on each state park or preserve and access locations, state park trail and access locations, state forests and access locations.

By clicking on each link in the map you’ll find basic information with name and location as well as an additional link to the Connecticut DEEP website for a specific location. I took time to check on each location in The Last Green Valley and found the map and links to be very helpful with lots of information.

Another helpful link off the main page is for activities and amenities that are offered at each park and forest location. The activities are listed in several categories including Family Activities, Nature Activities, Active and Team Sports and Water Related Activities. With the heat and hot temperatures of the past few weeks my guess is the water-related activities has been a popular link for those using the website. By clicking on the link, you will discover the location for each activity, including a link for that specific location. With just a few clicks, all the information you could possibly need to plan your next outing is readily available.

Other information available through the main page of the DEEP State Parks and Forests website include camping locations and reserving a camp site, volunteer opportunities with DEEP as well as information on the history of the state park system in Connecticut.

For families with young children, you’ll want to check out the link to the No Child Left Inside program. Here you’ll find exceptional family opportunities to get your kids in the great outdoors close to home. There are links to the Great Park Pursuit CT State Parks Family Adventure, locations of parks, and list of activities. The event calendar for the family program is very helpful with several events still planned through the summer and into the fall months.

There are several state parks and forests here in The Last Green Valley that I frequently visit for my own recreational enjoyment as well as for conducting TLGV sponsored programs and events. I am a frequent visitor to Bigelow Hollow, Quaddick, Mashamoquet Brook, Old Furnace, Mansfield Hollow, Hopeville Pond and Pachaug. The Nipmuck, Natchaug and Pachaug state forest are also locations I frequent, thanks in part to an excellent trail network in each. I also hike and bike on sections of the Air Line State Park Trail.

I can’t imagine living in this region and not having access to these outdoor resources. Each in its own way contributes to what I consider a key component to the quality of life that we enjoy here in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.

Our state parks are forests are a wonderful resource. They belong to us and are nearby for all to experience. The DEEP website is your portal to fun in the outdoors and I encourage you to check it out, discover new places to experience, or a park or state forest that you have not visited recently.

We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. Our state parks and forests are a crucial asset for us to utilize and enjoy. They comprise thousands of acres of preserved open space available to residents and visitors alike to experience. I hope you’ll join me and others as we care for it, enjoy it, and pass it on.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.


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