What Is The Last Green Valley?
It's Where You Live!
The Last Green Valley is two things - it's the 35-town National Heritage Corridor in eastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts, and it’s also your member-supported, non-profit stewardship organization working locally to celebrate our heritage, conserve our natural resources, and respect our working lands.
At night the region appears distinctively dark amid the urban and suburban glow when viewed from satellites or aircraft. In the daytime, the green fields and forests confirm the surprisingly rural character of the 1,085 square-mile area defined by the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers systems and the rugged hills that surround them. For this reason, northeastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts have been called "The Last Green Valley" in the sprawling metropolitan Boston-to-Washington Corridor.
The Last Green Valley is half the size of Grand Canyon National Park and more than ten times that of Acadia, the largest national park in the northeast. Forest and farmland make up 78% of its 695,000-acres, yet it lies only an hour from 3 of New England's 4 largest urban areas. Its 300,000 inhabitants reside only 2 1/2 hours from 25 million people. This relatively undeveloped rural island in the midst of the most urbanized region in the nation makes it a resource of local, regional, and national importance.
Many things make The Last Green Valley special. It boasts:
- 2 of the most scenic and productive river systems in New England
- More than 80 ponds and lakes with exceptional water qualities and habitats
- 7 state forests, including the largest in Connecticut
- 16 state wildlife management areas
- 5 state parks composed of thousands of acres
- More than 130 miles of trails, including the East Coast Greenway, a National Millennium Trail
- Species of animals returned after no presence for generations, like moose, black bear, and fishers
- The 35 towns in The Last Green Valley have 43 historic town commons ond greens and 118 historic sites and museums. An abundance of authentic landscapes, architecture and neighborhoods attest to the ancient heritage we value with thousands of structures on the national and state registers of historic places.
- More than 500 agricultural businesses operate in The Last Green Valley where excellent land and natural resources afford new opportunities to promote traditional landbased economic development.
Loss of The Last Green Valley would have direct, irrevocable, and negative effects on America, particularly southern New England. Why?
- The forests of The Last Green Valley provide oxygen for 8.3 million people, exceeding the needs of its population by more than 27 times.
- Our forests filter and store 1.2 million tons of carbon that would otherwise remain airborne.
- Our forests produce 1.4 million tons of new topsoil every year, compensating for erosion in stressed parts of the ecosystem.
- The Last Green Valley has an abundance of clean water, including the largest aquifer in Connecticut (2,600 acres). A pilot resource inventory for the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Plainfield and Sterling, showed that 28% of the land was underlain by stratified drift aquifer deposits.
- The health of Long Island Sound is greatly enhanced by The Last Green Valley. Its large swaths of forest greatly reduce nitrogen loading of waterways. In the Thames River Basin (most of which is in The Last Green Valley), 81% of the 357.3 miles accessed fully supported aquatic life with no threats.
Because of this, in 1994, Congress designated the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, reognizing the region as a unique national resource. In 1999, Congress enlarged the Corridor to include Quinebaug and Shetucket River Valley towns in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, now numbering 35 in all. The Massachusetts communities are: Brimfield, Charlton, Dudley, E. Brookfield, Holland, Oxford, Southbridge, Sturbridge, and Webster. The Connecticut municipalities are: Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Franklin, Griswold, Hampton, Killingly, Lebanon, Lisbon, Mansfield, Norwich, Plainfield, Pomfret, Preston, Putnam, Scotland, Sprague, Sterling, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Windham, and Woodstock.
Statement of Distinction: Why is it Green?