Geological Places in Connecticut that Need Preservation
Why do we care? Everyone who appreciates earth science in Connecticut knows of several places that have special value, perhaps for minerals and fossils, or a geological story well illustrated, or just for sheer spectacular scenery. Some are essentially one-of-a-kind outcrops. Luckily, many such places are preserved in parks, along highways, or in other locations that are accessible and likely to remain so. Unfortunately, there are several particularly wonderful geological sites that potentially could be lost to us forever.
This page describes some important locations of Connecticut geology that need protection, along with some examples of places that are already lost, and some that have been saved. I originally intended this to mean natural sites such as the Great Unconformity in Southington, but I decided to include the American Institute of Professional Geologists' newsletter essay about the recent destruction of the UConn Department of Geology and Geophysics. That program was also one of our important earth science places, one which unfortunately lacked enough friends with enough political influence when it needed them the most. I hope that other locations and features listed below do not receive such needless destruction or damage.
What do we mean? By "protected" we mean safe from being filled, covered, bulldozed, blasted away, or just sealed off by a new owner who refuses all requests for visits, no matter the reason. Such can happen to an area when it is developed for roads, housing or commercial uses, or when the owner is concerned about liability and privacy. It does not necessarily mean free and unsupervised public access, or permission for visitors to trespass private land, especially for sites with fossils or minerals that might be (and have been) looted, or places where people could easily get hurt. However, we would all benefit from scientific studies that could be allowed, or if clubs and school groups can visit with permission.
What can you do? Do not assume that regulations or laws can protect places of earth science value -- nearly all such rules apply only to wildlife habitats, especially for rare or endangered species, and for protecting surface water quality and groundwater sources. It does not pay to try to tell people what they cannot do with their land, especially if it affects the monetary value of the property. I have met some of the current owners, and they seem like reasonable people who might negotiate with preservationists. It is much better to educate owners about why their special geological features should be protected, to get them interested in doing so, and to find sources or ways to compensate them for it. This task is especially appropriate for neighbors and organizations like local mineral clubs and land trusts. Or, it can make a great class project!
What organizations can help? Funding sources include the State of Connecticut (mainly through a DEP Open Space Grant), town open space funds (those that have them), and organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and your local Land Trust. It is also possible that a wealthy private benefactor will step forward -- Connecticut does have such good people! But before that will happen, it will be necessary for you and your earth science friends and/or students to make your wishes known through letters to appropriate organizations, the state, the town, and newspapers. And, there will be plenty of paperwork.
I will add hyperlinks with descriptions of these places as I have time. Also, there are surely other places that should be included here. Please email me your recommendations and reasons.
Places in need of preservation Places already damaged or destroyed Places that have been saved The Great Unconformity, Southington UConn Geology, Storrs Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill Dufford Quarry, Portland Mesozoic Border Fault Exposure, North Branford Portland Brownstone Quarries Cinque Quarry, East Haven Wolcott Quarry, Buckland Hills, Manchester Minnechaug Farm Hillside, Glastonbury Park Road Quarry, Woodbury Strickland Pegmatite Quarry, Portland Cass Brook at Platt Farm Preserve, Southbury Gillette Quarry, Haddam Neck Borders Plaza Trackway, Farmington Avalon Terrane Boundary, Deep River Laurel Brook, Middlefield Horse Barn Hill (Glacial Drumlin), Storrs Buttress dike, West Haven The Hoppers (Glacial Kettles), Bristol