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Meeting the Goals of the National RC&D Program

Meeting the Goals of the National RC&D Program
In section 1528(1) under Public Law 107-171, an Area Plan developed for an RC&D Area must include one or more of the following elements:

1. A land conservation element, the purpose of which is to control erosion and sedimentation.

2. A water management element that provides one or more clear environmental or conservation benefits, then the purpose of which is to provide for:
(a) the conservation, use, and quality of water, including irrigation and rural water supplies;
(b) the mitigation of floods and high water tables;
(c) the repair and improvement of reservoirs;
(d) the improvement of agricultural water management; and
(e) the improvement of water quality.

3. A community development element, the purpose of which is to improve:
a) the development of resources-based industries;
b) the protection of rural industries form natural resource hazards;
c) the development of adequate rural water and waste disposal systems;
d) the improvement of recreation facilities;
e) the improvement of the quality of rural housing;
f) the provision of adequate health and education facilities;
g) the satisfaction of essential transportation and communications needs; and
h) the promotion of food security, economic development, and education.

4. A land management element, the purpose of which is:
a) energy conservation, including the production of energy crops;
b) the protection of agricultural land, as appropriate from conversion to other uses;
c) farmland protection; and
d) the protection of fish and wildlife habitats.

Many of these elements were designed to address the most pressing concerns in rural portions of the nation several decades ago. The Eastern Connecticut Area is relatively unique in the national RC&D Program, in no small part because of its level of development and stark contrasts. While a great portion of Eastern Connecticut is a thriving, agriculturally based collection of communities, it also (as a whole) is one of the most densely populated areas of the nation, and lies halfway between the huge metropolitan areas of New York City and Boston. Because of these special circumstances, the approach of the Council relative to the above guidelines is necessarily different from many other areas of the nation. Following are descriptions of the general goals of each of the RC&D’s area of focus, and how they relate to national program elements:

Agricultural Viability
Recognizing that protecting and preserving farmland is only part of the battle, this area focuses on the additional issue of maintaining the competitiveness of farming as a business and a way of life against other competing pressures. This approach specifically addresses the land management element of agricultural conversion to other land uses.

Livable Communities
The work of the Council in this area will include the element of land management, specifically farmland protection, including an annual bicycle ride to raise funds and awareness for agricultural protection. It will also focus on community development, from the specific aims of improving transportation options, food security, recreation opportunity, and coordination across municipal and regional boundaries on issues of improving community quality and sustainability.

Environmental Review Team
The Council’s continued support and guidance of this program most directly addresses the national program guideline elements. The teams, assembled from experts in the fields of wetlands, storm water management, fisheries, wildlife habitat, planning, soil conservation, water quality and others, provide guidance to municipalities to make better land use and development decisions. These teams are capable of providing expertise on virtually all of the elements in the national guidelines. In Connecticut, this service is particularly useful in the more rural communities where town staff often lack the staff, expertise, and budget to perform the type of in-depth and broad analysis the ERT performs for no charge.

Greenways
Given the fractured nature of Connecticut’s municipalities, the Council decided to forge inter-municipal and inter-regional partnerships focusing on the development and preservation of green corridors, particularly along waterways. This will address the elements of land conservation, water management from the issue of water quality, community development from the issue of recreational opportunities, and land management from the issue of protecting wildlife habitats.

 

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