No matter the time of the year, some people enjoy visiting their nearby state park and like to bring a drink with them.
If that drink of choice is beer, wine or liquor; take note.
More alcohol-free parks have been established to combat the increasing level of alcohol-related problems.
Temporary bans are allowed if alcohol is “creating public safety issues”.
There have been 13 violations at Mansfield Hollow and 29 violations at Miller’s Pond from Jan. 1, 2010 to Sept. 24, 2012, according to Tom Tyler, who serves as the DEEP Director of the State Parks and Public Outreach Division.
Connecticut shoreline parks like Bluff Point, Harkness, Rocky Neck, and Hammonasset prohibit alcohol in specific areas such as beaches, boardwalks, and boat launches while Silver Sands and Sherwood Island are completely alcohol-free.
Violators face a $75 fine and can be evicted for 24 hours or longer by the Environmental Conservation Police (EnCon).
Alcohol was prohibited in all state parks, campgrounds, and forests 12 years ago to reduce the 26% of alcohol-related arrests at parks that occurred from September 1998 to September 1999.
The statewide ban in Connecticut was part of a trend in the northeast.
Massachusetts banned alcohol at all state parks in 1997 which continue to make the parks more welcoming for families.
In Connecticut, the ban was lifted after only one year by the state legislature.
While the DEP said that they received letters thanking them of the ban, legislators overturned it after they received complaints from constituents who felt they were punished for the sins of a few.
There was additional pressure from Anheuser-Busch who wanted to educate the public of the alcohol problem without having a ban.
When reversing the ban, the 13 parks that prohibited alcohol before Oct. 1, 1999, due to alcohol-related issues, were exempted.
The department can ban alcohol at parks acquired or opened after April 1, 2006 and designate areas as “alcohol-free”.
As more regional parks go alcohol-free, Patch wants to know your thoughts.
Do you think the state should once again ban alcohol in all its parks? Are you more likely to bring your family to an alcohol-free park?