What is the Zone?

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The Zone is a simplified name for the Gateway Conservation Zone that was created by state law in the early 1970s and adopted by eight lower river valley towns.

It is located in parts of East Haddam, Essex, Chester, Deep River, Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook.

Basically described, the Zone is that area of the lower river valley’s hillsides, shoreline and marshland that can be seen from the river—and from land across the river. This includes various coves and tributaries as well as the main river channel.

The Zone extends roughly 20 miles “as the crow flies” from its far northern boundary down to the Connecticut River’s mouth between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme. As the river meanders south to Long Island Sound, it forms 59 miles of shoreline in the Zone.

Tree lined riverbank
Tree lined riverbank, Katie Perzanowski, DEEP

This lower Connecticut River valley features numerous state parks, famous landmarks such as Gillette’s Castle, a ferry that began service before America became independent, a scenic railroad, waterfront dining establishments, homes, marinas, museums, and award-winning theaters. It truly is a special region.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission was created to preserve the Zone’s “natural and traditional” character and today works cooperatively with the eight towns to blend development with care.

a group tour of the historic site
Gillette's Castle, Wendolyn Hill
eight member Town map

Yes, We Have No Land

Although the CT River Gateway Commission has helped preserve over a thousand acres of land in the Zone, it does not own any land or hold any land protection agreements (often referred to as conservation easement). Since its creation in 1973, all the land the Gateway Commission has helped acquire and any land protection agreements it negotiated have been donated to the State of Connecticut, towns or land trusts for their care.

Checkout this interactive map of the Zone.