January 07, 2000
ALCOHOL PROHIBITED IN STATE PARKS
By: Matt Ranelli, Associate Attorney
You asked by what authority the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) banned alcohol in state parks except under rental agreements or permits for certain events.
The legislature authorized DEP to adopt regulations for the “…maintenance of order, safety and sanitation upon the lands in his control…” (CGS § 23-4). Acting under this authority, the DEP adopted a regulation that prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages at state park beach, boardwalks, and other posted areas (Ct. Regs. § 23-4-1(e)). The regulation allows DEP to extend the ban on a site-specific basis by posting the prohibition. Under this authority, the commissioner recently extended the ban from 13 posted parks to all 93 state parks, 28 state forests, and all state campgrounds.
The DEP cited alcoholic consumption as a source of significant disturbances at the parks. From September 1998 to September 1999, 265 of the 1,011 (approximately 26%) of the arrests and infractions recorded by DEP law enforcement personnel at state parks were alcohol related.
The ban does not apply to events covered by permits that allow alcohol to be served or to rental agreements for the Eolia Mansion at Harkness Park and the pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park.
According to Tom Tyler of the DEP, the department is planning public education efforts to inform park, forest, and campground users of the new prohibition.