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Greenways

What is a greenway?
Benefits of greenways
Greenways in Woodstock, CT
References and more information

Woodstock has two State Designated Greenways: The Little River and the Natchaug River System.

WHAT IS A GREENWAY?
A greenway is a corridor of open space that may:

  • protect natural resources, preserve scenic landscapes and historical resources, or
  • offer opportunities for recreation or non-motorized transportation,
  • connect existing protected areas and provide access to the outdoors, be located along a defining natural feature, such as a waterway, along a man-made corridor, including an unused right-of-way, traditional trail routes or historic barge canals, or
  • be a greenspace along a highway or around a village. (Source: Sec. 23-100. Definitions, as used in sections 23-101, 23-102, 32-6a, 32-9qq, 32- 327 and 32-228 C.G.S)

"Greenways vary greatly in scale, from narrow ribbons of green that run through urban, suburban, and rural areas to wider corridors that incorporate diverse natural, cultural and scenic features. They can incorporate both public and private property, and can be land- or water-based. They may follow old railways, canals, or ridge tops, or they may follow stream corridors, shorelines, or wetlands, and include water trails for non-motorized craft. Some greenways are recreational corridors or scenic byways .... Others function almost exclusively for environmental protection and are not designed for human passage." (Source: Pennsylvania DECNR, Pennsylvania Greenways, An Action Plan for Creating Connections)

BENEFITS OF GREENWAYS

Greenways differ in their location or function, but overall, they can benefit the public and the environment by:

  • preserving natural, cultural and scenic resources
  • protecting water resources
  • promoting stewardship of our rural and farmland legacy
  • enhancing natural beauty and quality of life in neighborhoods and communities
  • fostering public recreation, health and fitness
  • creating educational opportunities
  • promoting sustainable development and sound land use
  • stimulating economic development opportunities
  • providing alternative transportation
  • building partnerships

A Plan of Open Space and Conservation and the Town Plan of Conservation and Development call for the creation of Greenwayscorridors of open space, or greenways, following natural features. These natural resources not only foster open space linkages within the Town's boundaries, but are part of larger systems extending into adjoining towns and regions beyond. Greenways in Woodstock can link major committed open space areas within town, and provide for connections to the Nipmuck Trail in Union and Eastford, the Airline State Park Trail in Pomfret and Thompson, the West Thompson Dam area in Thompson, and the River Walk in Putnam.

Through its own greenway efforts and cooperation with neighboring municipalities, Woodstock is becoming part of a regional effort to shape future growth patterns by providing a system of protected open space and rural landscapes. Protected greenway areas should be supported by green space in man-made roadway corridors or development clusters. Buffer areas should be maintained on existing public rights-of-way and landscaping at the entrance areas of new roads required in order to provide pleasing visual transition from existing wooded rights-of-way to new roads.

Greenways in Woodstock

Even though there is a still a lot of open space in Woodstock, over 90% of it is "uncommitted" - meaning there is no preservation mechanism (such as a conservation easement or restriction) to ensure that it will remain in its current state. Because of existing and pending development in townMap of Little River area in SE Woodstock - location for proposed greenway, some open space is especially vulnerable to impacts such as pollution and loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat. In 2006, two river systems received State Designation as Greenways: The Little River and the Natchaug River System.

LITTLE RIVER GREENWAY.  The Woodstock Conservation Commission worked with the State DEP and the Town of Putnam to establish a State Designated Greenway along the Little River. The goal of this greenway is to protect public water drinking supplies, provide wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors by linking parcels of committed open space and wetlands, potentially link to other trails in adjacent towns, and provide educational opportunities.

In 2005, Woodstock updated their subdivision regulations to include mandatory conservation development design with a 50% open space requirement. With the Little River designated a greenway, the riparian buffers of all the watercourses in the system will receive a higher priority as a conservation feature in the subdivision design throughout the watershed. 

In 2003, the Conservation Commission received a $1000 grant from the Kodak American Greenway Awards Program. The grant funded a study to establish a greenway in Woodstock, CT.  In 2003-2004, the Conservation Commission contacted and held workshops with private landowners, local developers, interested community members, and other organizations in Woodstock and beyond that might be willing to partner on this project. The goals of the workshops were to obtain community support, reach general agreement on the location of the greenway, and identify next steps that were compatible with the goals of Woodstock's A Plan of Open Space and Conservation.  The next step was for Putnam and Woodstock to jointly apply State Designation as a Greenway.  Designation was approved in June 2006.

The Little River and its tributaries in Woodstock contain important headwater streams that are a part of the Putnam Water Supply Watershed Area, and a conservation priority as designated by the State Office of Policy and Management in the growth management principles and Location Guide Map of the Connecticut Conservation and Development Policies Plan 2005-2010.

The Source Water Protection Plan (12/05) for the Little River Watershed is available in PDF format here.  (You need Acrobat Reader to open a PDF file - you can download that software for free here.)

NATCHAUG RIVER SYSTEM GREENWAY. The Natchaug River System in the towns of Ashford, Chaplin, Eastford, Mansfield, Union, Windham and Woodstock is recognized by federal, state, local and private agencies as a benchmark stream for water quality containing a rich diversity of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. It provides trophy trout fishing, paddling, hiking, history and beauty to area residents and visitors as well as supplying drinking water for the City of Willimantic. Much of the land within the watershed is held by the State of Connecticut, US Army Corp of Engineers, private land trusts and large private land owners. Four State Designated Greenways pass through the watershed, and the Nipmuck and the Natchaug Trails follow the part of the Natchaug River corridor. The Willimantic River Greenway and the Airline Trail intersect with the Natchaug River as well. A joint application between the affected Towns and The Nature Conservancy resulted in State Designation as a Greenway in June of 2006.

The natural, historic and recreational resources enjoyed by communities within the watershed are dependent upon the continued high quality condition of the system. The goal of the Natchaug River Greenway is natural resource protection on both sides of the Natchaug River and its major tributaries Bigelow Brook, Still River, Bungee Brook, Stonehouse Brook, their headwater streams, and water bodies. The participating communities in The Natchaug River Greenway are working together to preserve the high-quality waters of the system as well as the terrestrial and aquatic habitat within the watershed through community education and promotion of the natural, historic and recreational resources of the river corridor.

In Woodstock, the Still River and Bungee Brook and their tributary streams form important linkages between the Nipmuck Forest, Yale University Forest and Camp Nahaco and other open space in the western side of town.  The Still River and Bungee Brook and their tributaries contain important headwater streams that are a part of the Willimantic water supply watershed area, and are conservation priorities as designated by the State Office of Policy and Management. This area includes the Lake Bungee development; the highest density developed area in town. With the Natchaug River system designated a greenway, the riparian buffers of all the watercourses in the system will receive a higher priority as a conservation feature in the subdivision design throughout the watershed.

 

More Information and References:

Conservation Commission
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet... As long as this exists... I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.

- Anne Frank