CFPA Open House & Highlawn Forest Dedication + Trails Day

This afternoon, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association hosted a fantastic open house at its headquarters in Rockfall, Connecticut. A host of dignitaries and fellow conservation oriented non-profits paid tribute to the work of CFPA’s volunteers and staff.

With 2012 National Trails Day (and Connecticut Trails Day) tomorrow and Sunday, it was a fitting time for the Highlawn Forest Dedication and ribbon cutting. CFPA’s staff, directors (including me), and members were joined by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Greg Miller, the president of the American Hiking Society, Dan Esty, Commissioner of CT DEEP; and John Judge, the president of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Also joining us were the Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the head of Connecticut’s tourism council, and the regional director of the National Park Service.

The kind folks from REI and EMS gave outdoor gear demonstrations. There were trails proclamations from Governor Malloy, and a national award was given from the American Hiking Society to both Connecticut and the CFPA. CFPA founded and maintains our state’s 825 mile Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails system.

Eric Hammerling, CFPA’s Executive Director, was master of ceremonies. Senator Blumenthal spoke about the importance of nature. Commissioner Esty touted Connecticut’s trail assets. Greg Miller said that Connecticut led all 50 states in the number of Trails Day events hosted, with 201 planned for this weekend and more than 1,000 total since 2007.

My spouse, and favorite trail runner, Debbie Livingston, represented our favorite running club, the Shenipsit Striders. She presented a $1,000 donation from the proceeds of the race that she directs, the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. The Shenipsit Striders are proud to support CFPA, an organization that maintains many of the trails that trail runners enjoy.

Rain is in the forecast, but I’m sure it won’t dampen the spirits of this coming weekend’s trail adventurers. There is no doubt in my mind that Connecticut has the best public/private trails partnerships, best trail network, and best trail advocates in the nation. Several of the speakers remarked that more people, especially youth, need to experience the trails. In the Livingston household, we are doing our part to introduce a new generation of trail users, but we would like to see a lot more children joining our kids on the trails.

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