June 20, 2002
ALCOHOL USE IN STATE PARKS
By: Joseph R. Holstead, Research Analyst
You asked about the origin of the 2000 ban of alcohol in state parks, why it was lifted, and what can be done to reinstate it.
Under the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) regulatory authority, it prohibited alcohol use in 13 state parks between 1986 and October 1999. In January 2000, DEP expanded the prohibition of alcohol possession or consumption to all state park beach, boardwalks, and other posted areas (from the 13 posted parks to all 93 state parks, 28 state forests, and all 17 state campgrounds (Ct. Regs §23-4-1)) because of alcohol related incidents on state land.
The next year, the legislature passed PA 01-150, An Act Concerning Natural Resources Programs of the Department of Environmental Protection, which specifically allows the DEP commissioner to ban the possession or drinking of alcoholic beverages in lands under his control. But in those areas where possession or drinking was not prohibited as of October 1, 1999, the act requires him to adopt specific regulations to prohibit such activity. This effectively eliminated the 2000 ban except at the 13 parks where alcohol had previously been banned.
According to Tom Tyler, DEP legislative liaison, DEP is keeping the matter under review and is not taking any further action at this time.
A legislative effort to ban alcohol possession or consumption on certain state land would not be in place until Summer 2003, unless it were enacted during the upcoming special session.
A copy of PA 01-150 is attached.
DEP AUTHORITY TO BAN ALCOHOL
The statutes authorize the DEP commissioner to adopt regulations for the "...maintenance of order, safety and sanitation upon the lands in his control..." (CGS § 23-4). Using this authority, DEP banned alcohol in 13 state parks (see list below) between 1986 and October 1999.
In 1999, DEP found that alcoholic consumption was a significant source of disturbances at state parks. For example, from September 1998 to September 1999, 265 of the 1,011 (approximately 26%) arrests and infractions recorded by DEP law enforcement personnel at state parks were alcohol related. DEP expanded its ban in January 2000 to cover all 93 state parks, 28 state forests, and all 17 state campgrounds. (The ban did not apply to events covered by permits that allowed alcohol to be served or to rental agreements for the Eolia Mansion at Harkness Park and the pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park. )
13 PARKS RETAINING BANS
State recreation areas where alcohol is currently banned (with date of ban origin):
1. Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union - entire park (1996)
2. Black Rock State Park, Watertown - entire park (1989)
3. Eagleville Dam, Mansfield - entire property
4. Housatonic Meadows State Park, Sharon - campground only (1997)
5. Indian Wells State Park, Shelton - Maples area only
6. Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent - campground only (1997)
7. Mansfield Hollow State Park, Mansfield - entire park (1991)
8. Mashamoquet Brook State Park, Pomfret - East Killingly Pond Area only
9. Millers Pond State Park, Durham - entire park (1990)
10. Osbornedale State Park, Derby - entire park (1986)
11. Silver Sands State Park, Milford - entire park (1999)
12. Squantz Pond State Park, New Fairfield - entire park (1999)
13. Sherwood Island State Park, Westport - entire park (1999)