Connecticut is small, but we have over 800 miles of hiking trails across the state, including 52 miles of the Appalachian Trail. For the last 10 years, there has been talk of a new East/West trail extending from the NewEngland Trail to the AT, but to this day, it is still just an idea.
Why would we need another trail? Conservation. Our state boasts of its big companies that come here and bring jobs and money, but this comes at the expense of our environment. CT does not invest in conservation as it should, with the majority of our trails being created and maintained by private local organizations and landowners. My state currently only protects around 700 acres per year, and it could take us up to 75 years to reach a goal of protecting 10% of the land. With the constant clear cutting of forest to make way for new factories or buildings, we must increase our efforts to try to save at least an equal amount of land that is being developed. My local organization is hoping to triple the pace of conservation by 2025.
While climate change is not new, but a cyclical process the Earth has been going through for billions of years, we are at a point where humans are making a huge impact on this natural process. My state is currently seeing a shift towards more mid-Atlantic climate, with more rain and less snow. The number of tornados in this area has increased and we had a microburst a few years back that has left me with nightmares and panic at the sign of a storm. But this change is much more than me crying when the thunder starts…it affects everything around me. The insects that are native to this area are dying off which then affects the birds and other wildlife. This also affects the plants, giving opportunity for more invasive varieties, which leads to my neighbors spraying even more chemicals on their property. Forests being cut down and land being developed affects our local climate and our native species and trying to stop it or even slow it down seems impossible at times.
My small town of 12000 people invested a lot of our tax dollars to create ‘the Greenway’. It is a walking and biking path of a little over 3 miles that will eventually connect to neighboring towns paths. Five months ago, a parcel of land on that ‘Greenway’ was sold and has been clear cut to build a supermarket. So much for it being green. Our town officials said they could do nothing to prevent the loss of woods. They were all recently voted out and I will be holding our new reps accountable to stop the destruction of the lands in my town. What has any of this got to do with the APT? A girl can dream… Wouldn’t it be great if the APT was part of that East/West trail? I think so. It would be amazing to bring this community into my little state to help create more protected land. Wouldn’t we all love to have a little piece of the trail in our backyards? I think we can. By joining my local conservancies, volunteering for trail maintenance, voting in the right reps, donating where I can, picking up garbage, I believe I am already bringing the APT to my state.
I love the idea of walking around the entire country, but I am even more in love with the idea of so much more land being protected from destruction, animals keeping their habitats, plants thriving, bugs continuing their job of bugging us. I am thrilled to be part of this community and look forward to working together and meeting you on the trail.