Natural Environment

Natural Environment: resources, recreation, management, protection, climate

Goals & Concerns Worksheet 

Introduction – what is the Natural Environment, what is included?

The “natural environment” refers to everything living and nonliving occurring naturally in Madison. From the Town’s beaches to its wildlife, forests and wetlands, the natural environment in Madison includes a large list of natural areas and features throughout the Town.

Madison’s natural environment is highly valued by the community. Its protection, preservation and conservation is critical to the overall sustainability and livability of Madison. The quality of our air, water, and soil directly impacts the health and well-being of our residents. Clean air is essential for the healthy lungs of all creatures, while clean water sources are crucial for hydration, agriculture, and sustaining aquatic ecosystems. Madison's natural environment also plays a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. As we face the challenges posed by rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and shifting ecological patterns, the preservation of our forests, wetlands, and other natural areas becomes paramount. These ecosystems act as carbon sinks, absorbing greenhouse gases and helping to regulate local climate conditions. They also provide natural buffers against flooding, erosion, and other climate-related hazards. In addition, Madison’s natural environment is heavily intertwined with its built environment, as it is associated with many economic, social, and health impacts. The natural environment provides key resources, recreational opportunities, ecosystem services, and is a major source of community pride for Madison.

As Madison continues to grow and develop, it is critical that the Town has information and a plan for safeguarding its natural environment and using it in a way that is sustainable and responsible. Concerns like climate change, sea level rise, and air, water, and noise pollution threaten the natural environment, requiring proactive planning by the Town.

Through collaborative efforts between the community, local organizations, and government entities, we can ensure that Madison's natural environment continues to thrive, supporting a healthy and resilient community for generations to come. By valuing and conserving our natural resources, we not only enhance the quality of life for our residents but also fulfill our responsibility as stewards of this land.

The marsh at Salt Meadow Park

Draft Selected Policies– How do the Core Themes Guide the Town’s Approach to the Natural Environment?

  1. Vitality and Connectivity

POLICY A: Focus on Understanding and Sharing Knowledge of Natural Environment

The health of our natural environment is inextricably linked to the health of our community and its population. While the natural environment, including open spaces, tidal marshes, and connected forest tracts, have inherent value, they will only continue to thrive through active attention. Ensuring that both community leaders and the general public understand this value is a critical baseline step. In order to support this policy, the following actions are recommended:

  • Action A.1:     Conduct a Natural Resources Inventory
  • Action A.2:     Update GIS mapping of all key natural resources and create public map portal
  • Action A.3:     Encourage environmental education and stewardship curriculum at Madison schools
  • Action A.4:     Expand public engagement efforts such as Mad for Trees, Mad for Bees, No-Mow May, and Single Use Plastic Bag ban

POLICY B: Connect People to the Environment

A baseline understanding of the value of the natural environment of Madison is an appropriate first step, but it must be followed by efforts to place people into relationship to nature. The Town must align its priorities to connect its residents and visitors to an active and continual experience of the natural world. In order to support this policy, the following actions are recommended:

  • Action B.1:     Update Beach and Park Facility Master Plan
  • Action B.2:     Work with CTDEEP and neighboring Towns on Shoreline Greenway connections
  • Action B.3:     Make municipally-owned farmland and other unused arable lands available for active agriculture
  • Action B.4:     Develop sidewalk and trail connectivity plan and identify gaps between key resources and destinations
  • Action B.5:     Increase public amenities for both passive and active recreation facilities
  • Action B.6:     Include consideration of active recreation opportunities, including youth sports, as part of land acquisition process
  1. Resilience and Sustainability
  1. Opportunity and Growth
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