[CT Birds] Fw: Potential Closure of MDC Lands to Recreation, Hearing on July 20th

COMINS, Patrick PCOMINS at audubon.org
Tue Jul 13 16:45:48 EDT 2010

I thought this might be of interest to birders in the north central CT region, since this could mean the closure of some popular birding areas:

Patrick Comins

From: CTEnvLeader at yahoogroups.com [mailto:CTEnvLeader at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eric Hammerling
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 4:15 PM
To: CTEnvLeader at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [CTEnvL] Potential Closure of MDC Lands to Recreation, Hearing on July 20th
Importance: High

Dear Friends,

You may have read in the Hartford Courant (notably reporter Rick Green's
blog) about a recent $2.9 million jury award to a mountain biker who was
seriously injured by driving into a pipe gate at the Metropolitan
District Commission's (MDC) West Hartford Reservoir. In response, the
MDC Commissioners are considering the closure of all of their lands to
recreational uses in order to 1) limit potential exposure to personal
injury lawsuits in the future; and 2) avoid expected increases in their
insurance premiums.

At CFPA, we are concerned about this for several reasons:

1) A beautiful, 3.5 mile section of the Metacomet/New England
National Scenic Trail (a blue-blazed hiking trail maintained by CFPA
volunteers) runs through the MDC's West Hartford Reservoir property.
Portions of the Tunxis Trail and Falls Brook Trail also cross MDC
properties up north near the Barkhamsted Reservoir;

2) As a nonprofit municipal corporation, The MDC has the status of
a municipality and we are concerned that other municipalities, municipal
water companies, et cetera will consider closing recreation lands and/or
will hesitate to open new lands because of liability fears;

3) The state's Recreational Liability Statute (as was highlighted
in a terrific conference put on by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut in
April) is strong for private landowners, private corporations, and
private utilities who host recreational activities without charging a
fee, but the statute is clearly not providing sufficient liability
protection for municipalities.

4) Although the statute needs to be fixed by the Legislature (and
should have been fixed in the late 1990's on the heels of Conway v.
Wilton), we understand that it will likely face strong resistance from
the well-heeled Trial Lawyers Association. We will need your help and
personal involvement if you care about this issue.

There will be a Public Hearing before MDC's Water Bureau on Tuesday,
July 20th, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the West Hartford Town Hall (50
South Main Street, West Hartford). I hope you will be able to join us
to let the MDC know how you feel about this matter. This may be the
only public hearing the MDC holds to receive public input before the MDC
Commissioners make their recommendation.

If you would like more information on this, we have worked with a CT
NEMBA (New England Mountain Biking Association) volunteer to set-up an
informational website, www.savethemdctrails.org
<http://www.savethemdctrails.org> , to post information on this matter
as it develops. We have also set-up an online petition on that website
as well as developed a list of "Friends" (individuals and businesses) to
rally additional support.

Please consider visiting the www.savethemdctrails.org
<http://www.savethemdctrails.org> website to learn more, sign the
online petition (we have received over 1,000 signatures already in only
1 week), or find other ways to help us spread the word about this
important matter. Thanks, in advance, for your interest!

All the best,


Eric Hammerling, Executive Director

Connecticut Forest & Park Association

16 Meriden Road

Rockfall, CT 06481

ehammerling at ctwoodlands.org <mailto:ehammerling at ctwoodlands.org>

phone: 860.346.2372

fax: 860.347.7463

http://www.ctwoodlands.org/ <http://www.ctwoodlands.org/>

Are you a fan of CFPA? Join us on Facebook---

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