CHAPTER 453

RECREATION AND NATURAL HERITAGE TRUST PROGRAM.
CONNECTICUT HERITAGE AREAS

Table of Contents

Sec. 23-73. Definitions.

Sec. 23-74. Recreation and natural heritage trust program. Purpose.

Sec. 23-75. Land acquisition. Criteria.

Sec. 23-76. Acquisitions list. Stewardship account income.

Sec. 23-77. Funding sources for program purposes.

Sec. 23-78. Matching funds.

Sec. 23-79. Stewardship account.

Sec. 23-80. Advisory board. Annual report.

Sec. 23-81. “Connecticut Heritage Area” defined. State planning consideration and project partnering.

Sec. 23-81a. Recognized Connecticut Heritage Areas.

Secs. 23-82 to 23-99. Reserved


Sec. 23-73. Definitions. As used in sections 23-74 to 23-80, inclusive:

(1) “Appraised value” means the fair market value of property without the consideration of the effect, if any, of dedication or other preservation related restrictions;

(2) “Acquisition” means the acquiring of real property or any interest therein by the department or its cooperators by purchase, gift or devise;

(3) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection;

(4) “Connecticut natural diversity data base” or “data base” means the department’s computer-assisted inventory of threatened or endangered species, natural systems and geologic features;

(5) “Cooperating entity” or “cooperator” means a private nonprofit land-holding organization, a municipal conservation commission or any other body deemed by the commissioner as satisfactorily able to assist in the acquisition of land or able to serve as primary manager;

(6) “Department” means the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; and

(7) “Program” means the Connecticut recreation and natural heritage trust program created by this section and sections 23-74 to 23-80, inclusive.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 1, 15; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1, S. 14, 45; May 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-1, S. 25, 130; P.A. 11-80, S. 1.)

History: June Sp. Sess. 93-1 amended section by deleting former Subdiv. (8) which had defined “trust fund” or “fund”, effective July 1, 1993; May 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-1 made technical change, effective July 1, 1994; (Revisor’s note: In 1997 a reference in Subdiv. (3) to “Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection” was replaced editorially by the Revisors with “Commissioner of Environmental Protection” for consistency with customary statutory usage); pursuant to P.A. 11-80, “Commissioner of Environmental Protection” and “Department of Environmental Protection” were changed editorially by the Revisors to “Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection” and “Department of Energy and Environmental Protection”, respectively, effective July 1, 2011.

Sec. 23-74. Recreation and natural heritage trust program. Purpose. There is hereby created the recreation and natural heritage trust program to: (1) Acquire land that represents the ecological diversity of Connecticut, including natural features such as riverine, montane, coastal and geologic systems or other natural areas, on behalf of the state, in order to ensure the preservation and conservation of such land for recreational, scientific, educational, cultural and aesthetic purposes, (2) acquire land of unusual natural interest as additions to the system of parks, forests, wildlife and fishery management areas, natural areas and dedicated natural area preserves in the state for the beneficial use and enjoyment of the public, (3) acquire land identified as essential habitat for endangered and threatened species pursuant to the program established under section 26-305, (4) offset carbon dioxide produced through combustion of fossil fuels by preserving lands that naturally absorb it, and (5) establish a stewardship account to provide for the maintenance, protection and management of lands acquired pursuant to the provisions of sections 23-73 to 23-79, inclusive, and of the species that inhabit them.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 2, 15; P.A. 89-224, S. 13, 22; P.A. 98-157, S. 11, 15.)

History: P.A. 89-224 inserted new Subdiv. (3) re acquisition of land identified as essential habitat for endangered and threatened species, renumbering former Subdiv. (3) as (4); P.A. 98-157 added Subdiv. (4) re acquisition of land to offset carbon dioxide emissions, effective July 1, 1998 (Revisor’s note: A reference to Sec. 23-80 was changed editorially by the Revisors to Sec. 23-79, since Sec. 23-80 was repealed by P.A. 98-157).

Sec. 23-75. Land acquisition. Criteria. (a) The Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection shall acquire land by purchase, gift or devise for the purposes set forth in section 23-74. The title to any land acquired pursuant to sections 23-73 to 23-79, inclusive, shall be vested in the state. In determining whether sites shall be acquired, the department shall consider whether the site is: (1) Identified as having high priority recreation, forestry, fishery, wildlife or conservation value and as being consistent with the state comprehensive plan for outdoor recreation and the state plan of conservation and development; (2) a prime natural feature of the Connecticut landscape, such as a major river, its tributaries and watershed, mountainous territory, an inland or coastal wetland, a significant littoral or estuarine or aquatic site or any other important geologic feature; (3) habitat for native plant or animal species listed as threatened or endangered or of special concern in the data base or pursuant to the program established under section 26-305, particularly areas identified as essential habitat for such species; (4) a relatively undisturbed outstanding example of a native ecological community which is now uncommon; or (5) threatened with conversion to incompatible uses or contains sacred sites or archaeological sites of state or national importance. In acquiring a site that has been identified as having a high priority recreation value, the department shall give priority to sites near population centers.

(b) No site shall be acquired which has not been evaluated by the department, through the data base, to determine if threatened or endangered species or species of special concern inhabit or use the site or to determine if the site is of special ecologic quality or has other outstanding natural values as a community of living things.

(c) No site which is to be acquired with the assistance of a municipal cooperator shall be acquired unless the department and such cooperator enter into a written agreement which specifies the recreational activities which will not be allowed on such site. Such agreement may be modified at any time by mutual consent of the municipal cooperator and the department.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 3, 15; P.A. 87-448, S. 1, 6; P.A. 89-224, S. 14, 22; 89-368, S. 14; P.A. 91-378, S. 7; P.A. 11-80, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 87-448 amended Subsecs. (a) and (b) to authorize the commissioner to consider species of special concern in decisions on acquisition and amended Subsec. (a) to require that priority be given to acquisition of sites near population centers; P.A. 89-224 added reference to the program established under Sec. 26-305 in Subsec. (a)(3); P.A. 89-368 Subsec. (a)(5) to make the presence of a sacred or archaeological site a factor that may be considered by the commissioner in acquisition of a site; P.A. 91-378 added a new Subsec. (c) concerning certain agreements between the department and municipal cooperators; (Revisor’s note: In 1999 a reference to Sec. 23-80 was changed editorially by the Revisors to Sec. 23-79, since Sec. 23-80 was repealed by P.A. 98-157); pursuant to P.A. 11-80, “Commissioner of Environmental Protection” was changed editorially by the Revisors to “Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection” in Subsec. (a), effective July 1, 2011.

Sec. 23-76. Acquisitions list. Stewardship account income. The department shall maintain and quarterly revise a list of acquisitions made pursuant to sections 23-73 to 23-79, inclusive. Such list shall include the acreage of each acquisition and shall identify the cooperating entity or the section or division of the department which has primary management responsibility or the right to receive income from the stewardship account established pursuant to section 23-79 for such acquisition. The department shall have primary management responsibility and the right to receive stewardship account income for that responsibility except where there are contrary indications in other preservation-related restrictions or agreements controlling the management of a site or where there was a contrary agreement filed with the department when the acquisition was made. The commissioner may name a cooperator to receive income from the stewardship account.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 4, 15.)

History: (Revisor’s note: In 1999 a reference to Sec. 23-80 was changed editorially by the Revisors to Sec. 23-79, since Sec. 23-80 repealed by P.A. 98-157).

Sec. 23-77. Funding sources for program purposes. (a) Resources from the following sources shall be used by the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection to effect the purposes of the program: Proceeds from the sale of any bonds authorized for the purposes of sections 23-73 to 23-79, inclusive, and any funds received as contributions from governmental or private sources.

(b) The resources of the program may be applied and expended to: (1) Acquire property or an interest in property; or (2) maintain lands pursuant to a stewardship account authorized under section 23-79. The provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall apply to all costs incurred by the commissioner or a cooperating entity that the commissioner determines are directly related to the acquisition of the property.

(c) Payments from program resources may be made to cooperating entities for program acquisitions provided the commissioner has issued to such entity a letter of intent requesting assistance in an acquisition. A cooperating entity may request a letter of intent for a proposed acquisition. Upon submission of a cooperating entity’s expenses for acquisition and related costs to the department pursuant to a contract for such acquisition, the commissioner or his designee shall authorize payment of expenses at reasonable intervals during the acquisition process, as determined by the commissioner.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 5, 6, 15; P.A. 87-448, S. 2, 6; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1, S. 15, 45; P.A. 94-175, S. 20, 32; May Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-4, S. 80, 85; P.A. 95-160, S. 64, 69; P.A. 11-80, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 87-448 amended Subsec. (a) to authorize municipal contributions to the fund and amended Subsec. (c) to clarify the eligibility for payment from the fund of any cost related to property acquisition; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1 amended section by deleting references to a recreation and natural heritage trust “fund”, substituting references to “program” and deleted former Subsec. (b) which had required that the fund be used for purposes of the program, relettering remaining Subsecs. accordingly, effective July 1, 1993; P.A. 94-175 amended Subsec. (a) to delete provisions requiring that fund be held separate from other moneys, that investment earnings be credited to assets, that year-end balances be carried forward and that payments require commissioner’s authorization, effective June 2, 1994; May Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-4 and P.A. 95-160 revised effective date of P.A. 94-175 but without affecting this section; (Revisor’s note: In 1999 a reference to Sec. 23-80 was changed editorially by the Revisors to Sec. 23-79, since Sec. 23-80 was repealed by P.A. 98-157); pursuant to P.A. 11-80, “Commissioner of Environmental Protection” was changed editorially by the Revisors to “Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection” in Subsec. (a), effective July 1, 2011.

Sec. 23-78. Matching funds. Any moneys authorized for the program may be expended with matching funds from: (1) Private contributions of cash or securities, in an amount not less than fifteen per cent; (2) moneys from a federal matching program, subject to the limitations of applicable federal and state laws, in an amount authorized by said federal program; (3) contributions of real property, or interest therein, that serves recreational and natural heritage land acquisition needs of the department as determined by the commissioner; (4) municipal contributions of cash or securities, in an amount not less than fifteen per cent, provided contributions from municipalities, nonprofit entities and water companies shall be derived from a source other than state grant moneys obtained from the open space and watershed land acquisition grant program; or (5) any combination thereof. Contributions of land or interest in land shall be valued, for purposes of this section, in the amount of their appraised value.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 7, 15; P.A. 87-448, S. 3, 6; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1, S. 16, 45; P.A. 98-157, S. 1, 15.)

History: P.A. 87-448 deleted the 50% matching contribution requirement and made expenditures from the fund discretionary rather than mandatory, amended Subdiv. (1) to require matching contributions from private entities of 20%, added Subdiv. (4) concerning municipal contributions and renumbered the remaining Subdiv. accordingly; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1 amended section by substituting references to “program” for references to “fund”, effective July 1, 1993; P.A. 98-157 reduced matching fund requirements for private and municipal contributions to 15% and added condition that certain matching funds not be derived from the open space and watershed land acquisition grant program, effective July 1, 1998.

Sec. 23-79. Stewardship account. To ensure the proper management of land acquired pursuant to sections 23-73 to 23-79, inclusive, concurrent with each land acquisition, an amount not to exceed twenty per cent of the appraised value of the land may be allocated from the proceeds of bonds authorized for the purposes of this program to be used for the management of acquisitions or to be deposited in a stewardship account which shall be established by the Comptroller as a separate nonlapsing account within the General Fund. Income derived from the investment of such account shall be credited to such account and such account shall be used for the management of acquisitions. The commissioner may name a cooperator as primary manager of the land and on such nomination may authorize, at reasonable times and in reasonable amounts, payments to the primary manager for expenses incurred in the management of program acquisitions. A cooperator shall not be required to provide matching funds for any expenditure from a stewardship account.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 8, 15; P.A. 87-448, S. 4, 6; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1, S. 17, 45; May 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-1, S. 26, 130.)

History: P.A. 87-448 added provision that cooperators shall not be required to match stewardship account expenditures; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 93-1 amended section by deleting references to “fund” and authorized use of bond proceeds for management of acquisitions, effective July 1, 1993; May 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-1 made technical change, effective July 1, 1994; (Revisor’s note: In 1999 a reference to Sec. 23-80 was changed editorially by the Revisors to Sec. 23-79, since Sec. 23-80 was repealed by P.A. 98-157).

Sec. 23-80. Advisory board. Annual report. Section 23-80 is repealed, effective July 1, 1998.

(P.A. 86-406, S. 9, 15; P.A. 87-448, S. 5, 6; P.A. 91-405, S. 3; P.A. 96-180, S. 91, 166; P.A. 98-157, S. 14, 15.)

Sec. 23-81. “Connecticut Heritage Area” defined. State planning consideration and project partnering. (a) As used in this section, section 23-81a and section 16a-27, “Connecticut Heritage Area” means a place within the state that has been identified by the General Assembly as having significant historic, recreational, cultural, natural and scenic resources that form an important part of the state’s heritage.

(b) Each state agency, department, board and commission (1) shall consider Connecticut Heritage Areas when developing planning documents and processes, and (2) may partner with the managing entities of such areas on projects concerning, but not limited to, environmental protection, heritage resource preservation, recreation, tourism and trail development.

(P.A. 09-221, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 09-221 effective July 8, 2009.

Sec. 23-81a. Recognized Connecticut Heritage Areas. The General Assembly recognizes two Connecticut Heritage Areas: (1) The Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, and (2) the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.

(P.A. 09-221, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 09-221 effective July 8, 2009.

Secs. 23-82 to 23-99. Reserved for future use.