The Farmington River Watershed Association launched The Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project (FVBP) in 2001-2002 with partners in 7 towns (Avon, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Simsbury, and Suffield) and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Metropolitan Conservation Alliance. In so doing, FRWA tripled the biological data on natural resources available to local decision-makers and documented in the State’s Natural Diversity Database. To date, information from this project has been (or is in the process of being) incorporated into 6 Plans of Conservation and Development. The official report and data from this project were officially released in February of 2007.
At the same time that the Biodiversity Project towns have acquired additional abilities to conduct natural resource planning, the pace of development (primarily residential) continues to overwhelm any meaningful conservation benefits on the ground. At the root of this problem are several issues:
- inconsistent land-use regulations from town-to-town that are not always focused on long-term resource conservation (often more focused on mitigating rather than avoiding problems);
- inadequate appreciation for resource problems such as stormwater pollution/impervious surfaces, erosion/sedimentation, groundwater/aquifer protection;
- imbalance between project proponents who hire environmental consultants and lawyers and volunteer land-use commissions/municipalities who often lack access to expertise and/or are intimidated by the prospects of litigation; and,
- lack of resources at the municipal level to both analyze development proposals thoroughly and enforce permit requirements at construction sites after projects are approved.
With leading support from the Gackstatter Foundation, FRWA is working with local towns, regional organizations and other non-profit organizations to implement land use changes that will protect the Farmington Valley’s unique and important natural legacy.