land use

Teens Master the Art (and fun!) of Mapping at UConn’s NRC Academy

topoThe Natural Resource Conservation Academy (NRCA) is an innovative program in conservation and land use planning for a select group of Connecticut high school students. The Academy starts with a week-long field course at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Throughout the week, students interact with UConn faculty and learn about mapping and geospatial information, water, forestry, wildlife, soils and more. However, to pass muster at the Academy the work/fun doesn’t end there!  In the months to come, students complete a natural resource project in their communities, using the skills and knowledge that they gained over the summer.

Quite a few CLEAR faculty participate in the summer field course.  Because of its obvious superiority to all the other disciplines, Day One of the Academy is dedicated to mapping and geospatial information. Thus, Cary and I had the opportunity to work with this bright group of students and expose them to all sorts of fun mapping topics.

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New CLEAR Progress Report Now Available

By Chet Arnold

CLEAR report

Every 5.5 years or so (don’t ask!) CLEAR issues a Progress Report in an attempt to summarize and characterize highlights of our work. Our second such report is now out!

CLEAR is smaller than it once was—there are about 8 full-time faculty and staff working on Center projects on a daily basis—but our small size has not prevented us from engaging in a long list of projects with an even longer list of partners. Nor have we slacked off on producing websites, web tools, publications, and now smartphone apps.

The body of the Report is given to short descriptions of key impacts made by our research, geospatial training and tools, and outreach education programs. Highlighted examples include the widespread use of our Changing Landscape land cover information, the use of the CT ECO web mapping site during Tropical Storm Irene, CT NEMO’s work on a national precedent setting water quality project on campus, and the statewide impact of the Land Use Academy, which has trained over 900 people from 149 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

The report can be found online at Contact Kara Bonsack for hardcopies at

Salt of the Earth

UConn Extension’s Center for Land Use Education And Research (CLEAR) provides information, education and assistance to Connecticut’s land use decision makers, community organizations and citizens on how to better protect natural resources while accommodating economic growth.

Read Michael Dietz’s blog post about road salt at the CLEAR website.

One of UConn’s salt piles.

What the Heck Is Land Use Academy?

By Bruce Hyde

As a local land use commissioner you are faced with making decisions about how your community will grow, reviewing and approving applications for a variety of projects and balancing growth with natural resource protection. Sometimes court decisions change the rules, you receive conflicting advice, the information you have to work with is incomplete or you have to decide on a neighbor’s application. It can be a complex and confusing job. That’s where the Land Use Academy can help.

The Land Use Academy provides practical education for local land use decision makers in Connecticut. Our program offers both basic and advanced training and focuses on the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to serve effectively on a local land use commission. New land use commissioners and those considering becoming commissioners will find our courses especially useful, as will current commissioners seeking to update or refresh their understanding of fundamental land use topics.

Our principal program consists of a core curriculum of three courses offered as a day-long training, usually held on Saturdays. Members of the Planning and Zoning section of the Connecticut Bar Association provide instruction on such topics as Legal Responsibilities for Connecticut Land Use Commissioners, Conflicts Bias and Pre-determination, Running the Meeting and Making the Decision, and Conditions and Modifications.

The Academy collaborates with other CLEAR programs on various projects in an effort to create the most useful tools and resources for municipal officials. We are constantly updating the course curriculum to reflect recent court decisions and new developments at the state level. For instance, the Academy and NEMO have teamed up to develop a site plan review workshop that focuses on stormwater systems.

Visit the Land Use Academy website for details, call Bruce Hyde 860-345-5229 or just get down to it and REGISTER NOW!

Visit us online:

Below:  Participants at the Land Use Academy’s Basic Training this past fall.

land use