What is the Conservation Commission?
Residents Committed to Land Preservation
The Newtown Conservation Commission is made up of seven residents appointed by the Board of Selectmen to serve staggered 4 year terms. By mandate of Connecticut General Statute 7-131 and Newtown Ordinance 65, the Commission promotes the conservation, supervision, maintenance and regulation of Newtown’s natural resources.
Conserving the Land
The foremost responsibility of the Commission is the acquisition and preservation of open space. The goal is to preserve and protect 21% of Newtown’s land through a combination of state parks and forests, private land trust and Town-owned open space. Towards that goal, the Commission works with Land Use officials to identify and acquire properties to add to this inventory of protected land. To date, the Commission has assisted the town in acquiring almost 2000 acres of open space. In general, new open space acquisitions will meet some or all of the following objectives:
- Eliminating new development
- Securing public water access
- Linking existing open space owned by the Town, Newtown Forest Association and the State
- Preserving agricultural and historic sites
- Promoting the conservation of soils, wetlands, water supplies and other natural resources
- Preserving the Town’s scenic views.
In addition, the Commission seeks to acquire conservation easements from farmers and other landowners. While such land remains in private hands and is generally not accessible to the public, it does protect this acreage from development in perpetuity. An example is the Ferris Farm on Route 302 (of Ferris Creamery fame), which is home to the last commercial dairy herd in Fairfield County.
Protecting the Land
In most cases, the Commission is responsible for determining how open space will be used and for managing it so that it can be enjoyed by residents and protected from encroachment, vandalism and invasive plants. The Commission also has the duty of maintaining an inventory of open space and providing maps and brochures to the public. In addition, the Commission works to educate the public about issues that impact natural resources, from identifying and removing invasive plants to recycling and wildlife management.
Since the Commission receives limited funds and has no line item in the Town budget, the Commission has a responsibility to seek appropriate funds through grants and other sources in order to fulfill its mandated duty to protect and manage open space. Management of open space entails removing invasive plants, maintaining appropriate habitat for wildlife, and providing access to the public by developing trails and building bridges and parking areas so that residents will be able to enjoy the land that has been preserved for them and for future generations.
To Contact the Conservation Commission, email: landuse@newtownconservation.