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Where I Stand Celebrate lake’s 90th birthday

September 28, 2018

Saturday heralds an impressive milestone for all who have witnessed and personally experienced the jaw-dropping beauty and recreational bounty of this remarkable resource called Candlewood Lake. It marks the lake’s 90th birthday, capping decades of enriching tens of thousands of lives and livelihoods here in our region.

In recognition and celebration, take time to reflect, to acknowledge the lake’s role in initially attracting us to the area and enhancing our life experiences, to respect the tenuous and interdependent relationship between our presence and its impact and these precious waters, and to commit to ensuring the lake’s healthy future as the torch is passed to our offspring and theirs.

Conceived in the mid-1920s, the lake’s “bowl” was arduously plotted by more than 50 surveyors swarming over the valley and mountainsides, then prepped and complemented with a series of dams — representing a major project in its day and employing some 1,400 men drawn from here to Maine and Canada. The creation of Candlewood Lake represented a singular feat of architectural significance and engineering marvel. Understandably, soon its design and structural accomplishments yielded to enthusiastic kudos from many other quarters.

In its early days, Candlewood Lake was singled out by an international travel writer as the “8th wonder of the world,” more recently as among New England’s “sweet spots,” and proclaimed by our state Legislature on the occasion of its 80th birthday as a “Connecticut Crown Jewel.” But to those who have lived, recreated here, and have taken advantage of the lake’s endless benefits, Candlewood means all that and so much more. Indeed, it is now a New England showcase, a premier recreational paradise, a scenic wonder, an integral part of the fabric of our communities and region, and of the DNA of each of those fortunate enough to have embraced its charms.

On this occasion of celebration and grateful appreciation — and on behalf of all who have enjoyed and protected our lake over the years — give thanks for this priceless gem while being ever mindful that Candlewood requires and deserves our sensitive stewardship if future generations are to also share this amazing gift we have had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand.

Inhale Candlewood’s scents and gaze at its vistas, skim across its waters, watch your kids having a ball, hook your next meal, and immerse yourself in the lake’s infinite magic and memories. Then pause, count your blessings, extend special birthday thanks, and — as your legacy — commit your time and resources in helping to protect this “jewel” going forward.

Jim McAlister, a New Fairfield resident, leads the Candlewood Watershed Initiative.

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