Going Outside in Connecticut, 2017
By Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)
Why am I “reviewing” this “book?” Why was it on the “special” short lending period shelf at the library? Like, who in the world is checking this thing out? As the (probably) one person who has ever borrowed this title, I can tell you that only really weird people are doing so.
Who writes a review of this scholarly tome? Who reads a review of such a book? These are questions we must ask each other.
You good? I’m good. Let’s proceed. Weirdos.
The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP or The Plan) is a planning document for Connecticut that defines a path forward for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as it strives to fulfill the mission of making outdoor recreation available to all residents and visitors to the state for the benefit of their health, prosperity, and enjoyment.
Yes folks, that 58-word sentence is the opening salvo for this document. And you thought this would just be a collection of facts and figures. Ha! Let’s see if they can beat that with the second sentence.
The Plan also provides guidance to legislators, municipal officials, land trusts, the business community, and the general public by defining a clear, five-year agency agenda to which others can easily refer and upon which they can also rely as they formulate and implement their own planning agendas for outdoor recreation and environmental conservation programs and facilities in their respective jurisdictions.
SIXTY words! Well done, bureaucrat, well done. The third sentence was a fairly pedestrian 40-words or so, but the fourth looks like a doozy. You want it? You know you want it.
In general terms, the DEEP’s outdoor recreation goals represent a logical progression of strategic planning and proactive measures to ensure that residents and visitors enjoy an optimal experience when visiting any of the outdoor recreation facilities managed by the DEEP, including 110 state parks, 32 state forests, 92 wildlife management areas, five wildlife sanctuaries, seven natural area preserves, 117 boat launch ramps, 140 miles of shoreline, nine miles of sandy beach, and one coastal preserve.
SEVENTY-FIVE words. Government is awesome. This book is boring. But then again, it’s not like it – or its wordy author(s) would ever pretend otherwise. It’s merely a plan to get more people aware of our state’s natural resources in the hopes that more people use them. The recent 2019 change to make the former fee-for-entry parks “free” (residents now pay ten bucks more for our vehicle registration every two years) has certainly increased visitation to the more popular places.
But which people? Turns out, pretty much just white people. Now, Connecticut is a pretty white state and, according to the DEEP, is a gracious host to us – what’s that? “Host?” Yes, “host.”
Anyway, there is a section of the book that addresses the difficulty for urban-dwellers to “get out there.” (The book doesn’t assume that city residents are all people of color, it backs everything up with charts and graphs). I’m not sure they ever land on a plan in The Plan, but they are at least aware of the dynamic.
I mean, so am I. When I hike when my wife (she, of color), she’s always the only minority I ever see in the woods. I’m not even going to ask her about how good of a “host” she feels the state is for her and her blood relatives.
Okay, enough. I fully agree that more non-white people should be enjoying our public spaces and that our state’s public transportation system is garbage. My friend Kerri put together a helpful list of 26 parks & hikes Hartford residents can reach via public transportation.
You see, State of Connecticut, it’s possible. And you should thank Kerri for helping you out.