If you like camping, swimming, hiking, climbing, biking, boating and, of course, history, then you are ready and hopefully eager to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Connecticut's state parks. Their contribution to the quality of life in the state is incalculable.
To honor these oases of green and calm, state parks official plan to telescope 18 months of history into a 12-month centennial.
In the summer of 1913, Gov. Simeon Baldwin gave the go-ahead to form the first permanent State Park Commission. The six-member panel met in September and began the work of creating a park system.
In December 1914, the commission bought its first parcel, five acres of what would become Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. (Priority was given to coastal areas because buildable beach sites were already going for $6,500 an acre.) The system has since grown to 107 state parks, 32 state forests and 121 public boat launches that together serve 8 million visitors a year.
The yearlong festivities will begin with a reception at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill on Aug. 14, with dozens more events to follow, including a 10-day trek across the state from Quaddick State Park in Thompson to Sherwood Island State Park by bike, kayak and on foot. (See the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's park centennial website, http://1.usa.gov/19XjDe4.)
There are two ways to celebrate these priceless assets. The most important is to get out and enjoy them. Visit a different park each weekend; hit them all. Second, support them. DEEP has an adopt-a-park program. Also, 23 of the parks have "Friends of" groups that help keep their parks in top shape, and to remind legislators how important parks are.
Advocacy is important because at times over the years, the parks have been shortchanged for budgetary reasons. That is shortsighted. What is more pleasant, and sells the state better, than a walk in the park?Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times