New program restores services to CT parks - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New program restores services to CT parks

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Connecticut launches Passport to Parks program. (Governor's office) Connecticut launches Passport to Parks program. (Governor's office)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A new state program will allow Connecticut residents to have access to all state parks for free if they have a valid driver's license. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the launch of the Connecticut Passport to Parks program. The program was adopted in last year's budget and is supported by a $10 fee through the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. The fee applies to non-commercial vehicles that have new registrations, renewals, and plate transfers registered. 

“We are happy to help with providing access to many of Connecticut’s tremendous natural resources and give everyone an opportunity to visit and enjoy them,” DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said in a statement on Tuesday.

People from out-of-state will be charged $7 to $22 depending on the park and time of day. 

The governor's office said the fees will help members of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to allow "a number of services at the parks that had been previously reduced to be restored."

The Connecticut Passport to Parks program will allow Hammonasset, Rocky Neck, Sherwood Island, Silver Sands, Black Rock, Burr Pond, Indian Well, and Squantz Pond to be fully staffed with lifeguards. 

The governor's office said the program will help restore the hours of operation for the state’s museums and nature centers such as Dinosaur State Park, Gillette Castle, Meigs Point Nature Center, and Fort Trumbull.

The Connecticut Passport to Parks program will also reopen the following campgrounds:

  • Devil’s Hopyard (East Haddam) – Opening day of fishing season through Labor Day
  • Green Falls (Voluntown) – Opening day of fishing season through Labor Day
  • Macedonia Brook (Kent) – Opening day of fishing season through Labor Day
  • Salt Rock (Sprague) – Weekend before Memorial Day through Labor Day

Fall camping will be restored at these locations: 

  • Hammonasset Beach (Madison) – Weekend before Memorial Day through Columbus Day
  • Rocky Neck (East Lyme) – Weekend before Memorial Day through the end of September
  • Housatonic Meadows (Sharon) – Weekend before Memorial Day through Columbus Day
  • Hopeville Pond (Griswold) – Weekend before Memorial Day through the end of September

Spring camping will be restored at these locations: 

  • American Legion and Peoples State Forests (Barkhamsted) – Opening day of fishing season through Labor Day
  • Mount Misery (Voluntown) – Opening day of fishing season through Labor Day

“Our state parks are one of our most valuable resources, providing recreation and enjoyment to families across our state and serving as an important economic engine,” Malloy said in a statement on Tuesday. “Adopting the Passport to Parks system will help ensure that our state parks remain an attractive destination and continue adding to the quality of life and natural beauty we enjoy in our state.”

DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said he is "incredibly grateful" for the Connecticut Passport to Parks program. 

“Each year, nine million people visit our 110 Connecticut State Parks, providing enjoyment to all who visit.  It is important that we provide adequate funding to ensure a safe and positive visitor experience," Klee said in a statement on Tuesday. "With this dedicated source of funding, we are able to restore many of the services that had been previously cut as a result of fiscal constraints.”

In 2018, the fishing season opening day will be on April 14. 

The DEEP will start taking reservations for campgrounds at noon on Thursday. To make camping reservations, click here or call 1-877-668-CAMP (2267).

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