Open Space

Managing Open Space

Some form of human management of Connecticut’s ecological habitats has occurred for thousands of years. Native Americans used fire as a management tool for clearing and maintaining fields. European settlers managed and cleared Connecticut’s forests much more intensively for agriculture and charcoal production. With chages in agricultural practices and movement of farmers westward in the late 1800’s, many of Connecticut’s forests have resprouted, such that much of the state is now covered with second growth forest. However, land use and population pressures have intensified over the last century, such that many natural habitats have been developed, fragmented, polluted, or manipulated.

In spite of its intensive land use and management history, Connecticut still has a wide diversity of habitats, numerous rare animal and plant species, and many species at the edges of their range. As development and land use pressures continue and are compounded by climate change and invasive species, conservation and sound management of our natural habitats is critical to their survival.

Connecticut’s open space lands will come under more, not less, pressure in the future. Pressures such as changes in surrounding land use, habitat fragmentation, invasive and rare species, and climate change will impact these properties. Our hope is that our habitat-based management plan outline will be a useful tool for land trust stewards and town open space managers in the long-term conservation and management of open space in Connecticut.

Management Plan for Open Space

Connecticut’s open space lands will come under more, not less, pressure in the future. Pressures such as changes in surrounding land use, habitat fragmentation, invasive and rare species, and climate change will impact these properties. Our hope is that our habitat-based management plan outline will be a useful tool for land trust stewards and town open space managers in the long-term conservation and management of open space in Connecticut.

This outline provides a framework for the documentation of background information and a methodology to determine management actions, based on habitat, needed for the long term conservation of a particular site. This is an opportunity to think about, “How do we want this property to look in 10, 20, even 50 years from now?”

Users of this outline may find that it provides a way to consolidate information that has accumulated about a site – both on paper and in the personal knowledge of site stewards, and may fill in many, if not all, sections. Other users may skip entire sections. There is no right or wrong way to use this outline.