Smart Growth for Vernon, CT


Planning for Nature Workshop

by Deb Wilson
February 18, 2005


Despite the threat of a major winter storm, the workshop held on January 22, 2005, Vernon, CT, brought together a diverse group of people that share a common goal — protection of open space and protection for the creatures that live there.

Dr. Michael Klemens gave participants an in depth talk on wetlands, biodiversity, and tools for planning which included a slide show highlighting his field work. While the nature lecture was very informative, Dr. Klemens also stressed the role of the public in the process of planning and development in our towns. Instead of bending over backward to meet the demands of a developer submitting an application, make the developer bend to the "giver," the community.

After a networking lunch, we convened to hear Attorney Marjorie Shansky speak on the role of commission members—assert their jurisdiction and authority and demand more. You can disagree with your town engineer—it's okay. These words opened a lot of eyes! Immediately following her talk, we convened into small breakout sessions. This enabled us to dialogue with other participants from towns such as Bolton , Windsor , Plainville , Killingly, and Stafford Springs. We shared our concerns, triumphs, and defeats. To me this was a very important part of the workshop. Back in the large group discussion, a list of suggestions was generated. These particular suggestions were directed to the host group, MCA, to consider: gather ecological data for standards for towns to use for reference, become a clearing house of information, list grants for towns to apply for to help with studies and help pay the costs for updating regulations.

As a novice in the environmental arena, this was an invaluable day. Working together to plan for nature and preserve open space is the key factor to accomplish anything. I look forward to participating in more workshops of this caliber.

Michael Klemens presented "Best Development Practices: Conserving Pool-Breeding Amphibians in Residential and Commercial Developments in the Northeastern United States," [Aram J. K. Calhoun, Ph.D. and Michael W. Klemens, Ph.D., Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York].

Copyright © 2004-2005 Smart Growth for Vernon