3: Community-based Environmental Initiatives in Connecticut

CT EarthNet estimates there are about 300 Community-based Environmental Initiatives(CBEI) active in Connecticut today, including about 100 land trusts.  The missions of these initiatives all vary based on the particular issues, needs, opportunities and activities of the communities in which they are based.

  • CBEIs range from town-centered, village renewal associations to multi-town watershed groups, to tri-state and regional coordinating efforts, to public and private national institutions. 
  • Land trust activities typically include land conservation, education, stewardship and local advocacy.
  • CBEIs' missions are often focused more on a single issue or goal  (saving a tract of land from development, neighborhood trail or park stewardship, etc) and activities are designed ad hoc to serve that purpose.
  • Groups will often become more or less active based on the tenure and leadership of key individuals, dissolve upon completion of mission, or in some cases evolve into new groups with more enduring missions, such as to maintain land that was protected from development.

CBEIs' "ramp up" process (i.e.discovery and utilization of existing resources) can be indirect, circuitous and time consuming. While tools and resources for land trusts are established and accessible, tools and resources for other community-based groups, are often not as readily available or easily accessed.

CBEIs often develop web resources, links, directories and educational materials independently of each other.

Such an approach can be important to groups' efforts to reflect local preferences and distinctions.

Also contributes to inefficiency and clutter that in some situations can be contrary to groups' aims or intentions.

  • Numerous, separate organizational directories are available in print and online, but may be limited in scope, incomplete, outdated, contradictory or otherwise unreliable.
  • Printed and online materials include essential information inconsistently and may not fully represent groups' core competencies, learning and expertise.
  • Technology, particularly the internet is utilized inconsistently, perhaps reflective of the knowledge or expertise that individuals may bring to a group.

Source: Community-based Environmental Initiatives in CT, 2006, (in press). An analysis of publicly available, web-based information, news and reports of over 250 environmental organizations, environmental education groups and related community support associations and programs.

The analysis focused on Connecticut-based organizations (70%) and focused on programs and tools designed to assist community-based environmental initiatives across 8 problem issues: Water Quality, Watershed Protection, Wetlands Protection, Habitat & Biodiversity Preservation, Land Use Planning/Smart Growth Development, Climate Change and Sustainable Energy.

CT EarthNet reviewed Plans of Conservation and Development, Open Space Plans, Natural Resource Inventories, etc., for a third of Connecticut's 169 municipalities. Land use and development issues in study towns and cities were also reviewed, along with corresponding community-based environmental initiatives and any tools and resources utilized by local groups.

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1: The Promise of Community-based Environmental Protection