Temporary Alcohol Ban Issued for Gardner Lake State Park

Alcohol is banned at Gardner Lake State Park in Salem for now after complaints about excessive drinking and other problems.

Things reached a peak on July 4 when there were unruly crowds and an assault.

“Our trooper was down there. He had to call for backup. Yeah, we had to address it,” Kevin Lyden, Salem First Selectman, said. He then reached out to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee to ask for a temporary ban on alcohol at the park and the state agency, also known as DEEP, has issued the ban.

Possession and consumption of alcohol are banned, beginning this Saturday, to improve management of that park and address public safety issues there.

“I have exercised my authority to declare a 90-day ban on alcohol at Gardner Lake State Park because large numbers of people consuming large volumes of alcohol there is not a combination conducive to public safety and enjoyment of our state’s natural resources,” DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said in a statement. “The ban I have issued means no alcohol at Gardner Lake State Park and State Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police officers from this agency will enforce this ban. We also appreciate the offer of local law enforcement to support this new policy.”

Over the past few summers, EnCon Police and DEEP State Parks staff have noticed increased crowds and an increased number of incidents, which disrupt other park visitors and their enjoyment of the park, as well as for DEEP staff as they manage the park on busy summer days, according to DEEP.

“Given the changing use and recent issues at the park, the time has come for us to take stronger action at Gardner Lake State Park,” Klee said. “The vast majority of visitors to our parks enjoy themselves while following the rules and exhibiting good behavior. Unfortunately, situations do arise – like that at Gardner Lake State Park– where people engage in behavior that negatively affects the experience of others.”

Recently a new dumpster was brought in to help with the trash problem and State Environmental Conservation Police, as well as local police, will be stepping up patrols.

Alcohol is banned at the following 22 of Connecticut’s 142 state parks and forests: 

  • Bigelow Hollow State Park (entire park)
  • Black Rock State Park (entire park)
  • Burr Pond State Park (entire park)
  • Eagleville Dam (entire state property)
  • Gardner Lake State Park (entire park)
  • Hopeville Pond State Park (entire park)
  • Housatonic Meadows State Park (entire park)
  • Indian Well State Park (entire park)
  • Kent Falls State Park (entire park)
  • Kettletown State Park (entire park)
  • Macedonia Brook State Park (entire park)
  • Mansfield Hollow State Park (entire park)
  • East Killingly Pond area (Mashamoquet Brook management unit)
  • Miller's Pond State Park (entire park)
  • Nepaug State Forest (entire forest)
  • Osbornedale State Park (entire park)
  • Pachaug State Forest, Mt. Misery and Green Falls campgrounds
  • Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area (entire park)
  • Scantic River State Park (entire park)
  • Sherwood Island State Park (entire park)
  • Silver Sands State Park (entire park)
  • Squantz Pond State Park (entire park) 
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