Journey on the Farmington

July 20, 2011

On July 18th I had the opportunity to join the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel Esty as part of his ‘Commissioner in Your Corner’ tour. Each month, Commissioner Esty travels to areas of the state hosting events to highlight Connecticut’s natural resources and to hear from elected officials, business owners and members of the public.

His July stop included a journey down the West Branch of the scenic Farmington River. Commissioner Esty began at the MDC Goodwin Dam in Hartland, then went to a fishing spot in Riverton, then to the Whittemore Recreation Area at People’s State Forest in Barkhamsted, and last to Matthies Grove at People’s State Forest.

Along the way local fisherman, business owners as well as officials from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the state Fisheries Advisory Council and various environmental associations joined in at the stops. Each made statements about the beauty of the river, preservation efforts, seasonal activities and what a great resource the waterway has become for our region and our state.

Notably, one speaker sited a magazine article rating the Farmington River as one of the eight best rivers to fish trout in the country – I learned something new there!

Those with interests in fishing and tourism commented that fishing alone is a $300 million industry in Connecticut. Residents – both in-state and out-of-state – travel to the quiet regions of Connecticut to fly-fish and use our waters. Business owners also highlighted the river as a tourist destination for summer canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. And all the auxiliary things we don’t always think of like hotels, restaurants, gas stations and of course bait shops, also benefit from seasonal visitors.

As a member of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee, I recently worked closely with Commissioner Esty to build legislation pertaining to energy production and procurement. I am pleased that Goodwin Dam was highlighted along the tour in an effort to promote hydro power and clean energy resources here in Connecticut.

During the afternoon events, I joined in a canoeing adventure down the Farmington River. Those that participated experienced – first hand – the river rapids, the natural air-conditioning affect of the water, fly-fishing and all the wildlife living in and along the riverbanks. I also had the wonderful opportunity to speak to group of folks at People’s State Forest. It is great to hear directly from constituents in the district about their interests and concerns for the Farmington River, and how their businesses and industry profit from this resource. I was amazed to learn that people travel from distances as far as Canada to make use of our waterways for summer activities as it is often easy to overlook something as beautiful as the Farmington River when it is your own backyard.

Members of DEEP also gave a brief presentation of what’s next in terms of regulations that will enhance local trout fishing in the years to come.

I am so pleased to have been a part of Commissioner Esty’s ‘Commissioner in Your Corner’ session. This event was definitely a great avenue to bring government, residents and families together in an effort to promote the local environment.