Group to work for more protective legislation



Two Connecticut environmental groups are going to be getting a little bit closer this fall, and as far as relationships between non-profit organizations go, this one is getting hot and steamy.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound have tied the knot, so to speak, by officially merging earlier this month. The two groups, which are hardly strange bedfellows, both work to protect the Connecticut environment. While the mission of the groups will stay the same, the merger will help improve efficiency.

“We realized after many years of working together that the two organizations have different but complementary strengths,” Connecticut Fund for the Environment Executive Director Donald S. Strait said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s going to do a lot for the [Long Island] Sound and for Connecticut’s environment.”

Strait described Connecticut Fund for the Environment as a “strong legal advocate” that had developed a strong ability to move bills through the Connecticut state legislature. He added that they had helped to push three bills through the 2004 legislative session, including the clean cars bill that lowers car emissions to California standards. While Connecticut Fund for the Environment works to protect air, land and water for the entire state, Save the Sound has a more narrow focus.

“Save the Sound is nearly synonymous with the struggle to clean up the [Long Island] sound. They have a lot of expertise and an ability to mobilize action for the sound,” Strait said. “We realized that putting the two together could be very powerful.”

Save the Sound’s Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs Leah Lopez echoed Strait’s sentiments, adding that while the merger will change how the groups approach environmental problems, it will not change the type of work done by both organizations.

“The method that we use is going to be different. We’ll have more employees to help us out, and they have different contacts that we don’t have,” Lopez said. “We can push our message in different places.”

The two groups will be pooling resources and combining work, but each could not keep its own name. Save the Sound is technically being subsumed by Connecticut Fund for the Environment through the merger. Save the Sound will retain its offices and staff, but the group will no longer be its own independent legal entity, Lopez said. Instead, Save the Sound will become a division by the same name within the greater Connecticut Fund for the Environment organization.

Both groups agreed that this more perfect union would give birth to more effective environmental advocacy, but Lopez said that the joy from this next stage in their relationship would really go to each group’s members.

“It’s going to help our members and CFE’s [Connecticut Fund for the Environment] members to consolidate their giving. When people give to a non-profit they want to know that their money is going to the project area,” Lopez said. “This merger cuts down on overhead. Those kinds of expenses go straight to project work.”

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