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Message from the Bureau Chief

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Navigating a “New Normal”

Well, 2020 has certainly been a year to remember (or forget). From pandemics to social unrest, from violent storms to rampaging wildfires, we all experienced unprecedented upheaval and are searching for the new normal. Although no one wants a repeat of what we went through, we did learn some valuable lessons and even found a few silver linings. Most notable is just how important our natural resources are. As people’s lives changed, they sought refuge in our wild places. The decision to open the trout fishing season early led to tens of thousands of early season trips. Our State Parks, State Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas saw record-setting visits, many from people who have never connected with our wild places before. As you head out to participate in the hunting and fishing seasons, please be aware that many of our outdoor spaces are being used by more people who have discovered what the Connecticut outdoors has to offer.

The practices we hold most dear — hunting, fishing, and trapping — are tailor made for finding a respite from the troubles of our day. And, there is no better form of social distancing than occupying your favorite spot on a forest edge, waiting for dawn to break and listening for the gobbler that is soon to come your way. If you fish with me, either fly fishing or casting a plug, it is a safe bet you are going to want to be more than six feet away. I am dangerous. The beauty in this is that more and more people were introduced, or reintroduced, to our wild places in 2020 than in any year previous. And, that is a wonderful thing. The more we all connect with our fisheries, forest, and wildlife resources, the more we each take ownership. The more ownership one takes, the more support we receive to ensure those resources are protected and nurtured for those who come after us.

One thing the pandemic did is cause all of us at DEEP to drastically change the way we do business. It was abrupt, disruptive, dramatic, and a bit scary. It was also liberating. We were no longer constrained in our approach to how we provide services to you, our customers — the constraints of “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Instead, we had to forge new processes and approaches. And, these services are being provided faster, and more efficiently and effectively. In short, they are going to be retained as our new normal.

The upheaval of 2020 has also caused us to consider what other services might be improved through creative thinking. Be they in the realms of public policy (laws and rules), licensing, programming, land access, or information distribution, all are ripe for re-engineering. I do not have any specific changes to bring to you as I write this, but I look forward to engaging with you as we define our new normal.

I hope to see you afield, and all the best in 2021,

Rick Jacobson

Chief, DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources