PHOTO: Sen. Witkos, Canton Resident Testify in Support of Efforts to Protect CT Land

February 23, 2016


Hartford – Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), joined by David Leff (both pictured), on Feb. 19 testified before the state legislature’s Environment Committee in support of a first-of-its-kind effort to better ensure protection of Connecticut-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

“Connecticut is a beautiful state. But if that beauty is not protected, it will not last forever. In recent years, we have seen instances of protected land being sold by the state without proper public discussion and assessment of such sales. Lawmakers need to take steps to reassure the public that we are committed to protecting the environment. We also need to make sure those protections are guaranteed for our children and our children’s children,” said Sen. Witkos.

Sen. Witkos urged support of an amendment to the state Constitution regarding land preservation. Language for the amendment was proposed by Sen. Witkos who was inspired by the concerns and ideas of his constituent David Leff, the Canton town historian and former Deputy Commissioner of the CT Department of Environmental Protection. Witkos and Leff both voiced their support for the amendment and shared ideas on how the language could be improved. Together, they urged the committee to adopt language that would ensure:

  • A 2/3 vote by each chamber in favor of selling any space.
  • A public hearing in the town or towns where the lands are located.
  • Any legislation allowing for the sale of an open space property must be a standalone bill. This will prevent sales from being incorporated into much larger conveyance or implementer bills, which are often rushed through the legislature.
  • All money received for any transfer, sale or conversion of land must be used solely to replace it with similar land to be used for open space, parks, forests or farms. This will preserve the amount of open space currently owned by the state.

“This is an incredible, forward-looking proposal and I wholeheartedly thank the Committee for raising it. Together, we can make a long-lasting difference in how our state protects the environment,” Witkos said in his testimony.

Sen. Witkos’ testimony can be viewed here:

Testimony of David Leff can be viewed here: