Around 50 townspeople and a number of their canine companions descended on the quiet suburban road of Goldfinch Terrace for an event to celebrate the successful conservation of the abutting Headwaters of the Niantic River Community Forest. Three NEFF representatives, Whit Beals, Sarah Shrewsbury, and Carson Hauck, along with Art Carlson, a member of the East Lyme Commission for the Conservation of Natural Resources, hosted guided hikes through the woods. The hikes highlighted a few of the property’s unique natural features, such as the soaring tulip trees and the gentle stream winding across the property, Gurley Brook.
While hiking and learning about the property, attendees described the wide variety of reasons why they support this conservation project. One man noted his interest in water quality, saying that conserving the forest is an important step in protecting the Niantic River downstream. Another man, struggling to hold back his eager black lab, Bear, talked about his interest in hunting opportunities on the property. Several people asked about NEFF and how it manages its forests throughout New England. Many attendees simply wanted to learn about the property and how could they help maintain the property’s hiking trails.
At the end of the hike, the group shared refreshments and laughs at the trailhead, followed by a speech from the bed of a pick-up truck delivered by Whit Beals, NEFF’s Director of Land Protection. Cheers and applause rang out when Beals announced the successful completion of Phase 1 of the project. More applause followed in recognition of the efforts to fund the project, in large part through their own tax dollars and private contributions. And arms shot up as people began voicing their interest in volunteering to help NEFF manage the property into the future. The group was connected by a shared enthusiasm for conservation, a stewardship ethic, and above all, a love for the outdoors.
To learn more about the Headwaters of the Niantic River and to find out about the upcoming second phase of the project, click here.
Writing by Carson Hauck, NEFF’s Stewardship Associate