Why is the Zone Important?

Tom Walsh, Shoreline Aerial Photography

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The beauty and ecological health of the lower Connecticut River and its marshes is internationally celebrated.

Due to what’s been called “luck” or a “freak of nature,” the Connecticut River’s sandbars at its mouth prevented the type of large scale industrial development often found elsewhere.

A grassroots movement in the 1970’s arose to ensure that the river valley’s scenic nature would not forever be lost to haphazard growth.

A State plan of conservation and development issued about 50 years ago wrote, “The Connecticut River has many rare, beautiful unspoiled sections compared to other rivers in the heavily populated Eastern United States. From Haddam to the Sound, it is a remarkable diversity of scenery and natural life.”

Flyover Swimming Island shows many enjoying the water
Swimming Island, Tom Walsh

Connecticut’s US Senator Abraham Ribicoff, testifying in support of legislation creating the Zone in 1973, said, “The river is one of the great natural beauties. If you don’t preserve it, developers, industrialists, fast buck operators will take over and we will have a dumping ground.”

We can be thankful today that his dire warning has not come to pass.

Credit is due to the eight town municipal governments who work cooperatively with the Gateway Commission in the Zone, the people who live or work along the river, and all who visit or boat on the waterway.

The river’s exceptionally picturesque landscape, its thriving wildlife, and its recreational opportunities are what bring most of us to this little piece of heaven.

It is our responsibility as “stewards” to protect this treasure for our children and their children, as earlier generations have done for us.

A Riverquest Trip
Two attendees on a Riverquest Trip.
sunset on the Connecticut River

Preserving A Natural and Traditional River Scene
Connecticut’s Legislature considered protection of the lower Connecticut River valley so critical that it provided the CT River Gateway Commission with the unusual authority of being able to disapprove locally-approved zoning regulations if the Commission believed such town regulations would harm the “natural and traditional river scene.”  The Gateway Commission is the only Connecticut regional entity with that level of authority.