House Environment Committee OKs New England National Scenic Trail Legislation

This bill to expected to protect the portions of the Mattabesett Trail, Metacomet Trail in Southington and Monadnock Trail that pass through Connecticut for future generations to enjoy.

The General Assembly Environment Committee Monday approved an act to recognize the New England National Scenic Trail just as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Assistant Majority Leader and Vice Chairman of the committee James Albis of East Haven, D-99, says Raised SB 1015 passed committee muster today with no opposition. Anticipating the bill's eventual passage into law, Albis says, “The DEEP now has more control to maintain it and enforce any actions if that happens to be the case,” Albis says.

SB 1015 enjoyed unanimous committee support, Albis says.

Democrats at the House have discussed the measure and are behind it. “The testimony generally consists of people being very supportive of being able to have more tools in their toolbox to be able to take care of the trails.”

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What the legislation would do, Albis explains, is, “it primarily indicates that the trail can be used as a footpath and it doesn’t prohibit any other uses as long as it doesn’t destroy the trail itself.”

The New England National Scenic Trail is a 215-mile trail route in existence for more than 50 years. It travels through 39 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts and comprises the Mattabesett, Metacomet and Monadnock Trails.

The blue-blazed Mattabesett Trail hiking trail system is administered by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and travels south from Middletown, through the east side of Durham, to Madison and Guilford and back north on the west side of Durham and Middlefield to its intersection with the Metacomet Trail.

In 2009, it was designated a part of the New England National Scenic Trail. CFPA volunteers maintain the blue blazed trails throughout the state.

The bill will only apply to the portion of the NENST in Connecticut — from the Long Island Sound coast to the Massachusetts state border.

The bill will moves next onto the Senate floor and will then be taken up by the full Senate and then the House.

In related news, State Rep. Matthew Lesser posted a photograph to his Facebook Page Sunday after he spent time hiking the Connecticut Valley Hospital reservoir lands in Middletown. He's looking to pass legislation aimed at providing conservation easements to protect protect lands around the reservoir for future generations.

Higby Mountain is part of an unusual geologic formation called a trap rock ridge. This basalt rock supports several uncommon plants and provides a dry environment for struggling trees found along the ridge. Hawks use the thermal currents formed by the ridges for soaring and can been seen at eye level while walking along the cliff edge, according to the trail guide.

The Lamentation Mountain and Chauncey Peak trail travels just under 5 miles from Westfield Road in Middletown to Spruce Brook Road in Berlin and ascends steeply from Westfield Road to Chauncey Peak, which is 686 feet. Running from south to north, the trail crosses a canal after one mile, and then begins the ascent to Lamentation Mountain, perhaps one of the most scenic trap rock hikes in the state, according to the trail guide. provides scenic vistas of the Connecticut River, rock outcroppings, many streams, shallow bogs, and groves of mountain laurel. Combining main and loop trails provide walks of various lengths. Land ownership in this area is primarily private, although there is some state and city owned land, according to the trail guide.

Features along this section of the Mattabesett include the Coginchaug Cave, Pisgah Mountain, The Pyramid, and the Mica Ledges. Also of interest is the Selectman’s Stones at the intersection of the town boundaries of Durham, Madison and Guilford, according to the guide. 

Since the federal designation in 2009, there have been some noteworthy changes to the historic route, including an extension to Long Island Sound in Connecticut and a deviation from a portion from the historic Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in Massachusetts.

The Metacomet Trail passes through Berlin, Meriden, Southington, New Britain, Plainville, Farmington, West Hartford, Avon, Bloomfield, Simsbury, East Granby and Suffield; while the Blue-Blazed Mattabesett Trail passes through Berlin, Middletown, Meriden, Meriden, Middlefield, Wallingford, North Branford, Guilford, Madison, Durham, Haddam and Middletown.

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