Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut is awarding $9.1 million to support grants for 24 communities in the purchase of 2,466 acres of land that will be designated as open space. A total of $9.1 million in state grants will protect nearly 2,470 acres for public use.
Lamont pledges a grant of $707,000 to Wilton Land Conservation Trust to preserve 13.4 acres on 183 Ridgefield Road.
The grants are authorized under the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and assists local governments, land trusts, and water companies in purchasing land to protect open space.
The program is intended to protect wildlife habitats, offer recreational opportunities, and serve as a buffer and adaptation to climate change. Recipient projects are required to supplement the state funding with matching funds or other grants, and the land being purchased must be protected by a conservation and public recreation easement that will ensure the property is forever protected for public use and enjoyment.
“Open space is vital to environmental protection and a bright economic future for our state,” Governor Lamont said. “This program is an important component of preserving some of our state’s best and most beautiful land, and by partnering with our municipalities and nonprofits we can ensure that these valuable resources are preserved in perpetuity for generations to come.”
“Governor Lamont’s administration has prioritized initiatives that mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, while ensuring that DEEP implements policies that better preserve our air, water, and natural resources,” DEEP Commissioner Katie S. Dykes said. “This open space grant round represents an important investment and continued partnership with land trusts, our towns and cities, water companies, and conservation-minded citizens in preserving open space that makes progress toward climate response and provides greater opportunities for people to connect to our natural lands.”
Today’s projects bring the total land in Connecticut designated as state or local open space to 500,000 acres – approximately two-thirds of the way toward the state’s goal of having 673,210 acres designated as open space.
In December, the State Bond Commission, which is chaired by Governor Lamont, approved an allocation of $5 million to fund the program.
Today’s round of grants are being awarded to the following projects:
Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant AwardsTown: Bristol & Burlington
Project Name: Pigeon Hill Property
Sponsor: City of Bristol, Environmental Learning Center
Total Area: 63.9 acres
Description: This is a collaborative project between the City of Bristol and the Environmental Learning Center. Upon project completion, the City of Bristol will own 35.6 acres located in Bristol and the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut will own 28.3 acres located in Burlington. The property is made up of a 45-acre mature, mixed hardwood forest, 9 acres of fields, a 0.6- acre pond, and a glacial esker the runs along the western edge of the property. A 304-acre Aquifer Protection Area, owned by the City of New Britain, is located less than 600 feet past the property’s southern boundary. Directly west of the property is The Barnes Nature Center and Seymour Park. Roughly 15 acres of the property are made up of statewide important soils.
Project Name: Lot #30 West Road
Sponsor: Town of Clinton
Total Area: 5.2 acres
Description: The town of Clinton seeks to purchase Lot #30 on West Road. This 5-plus acre property falls within a proposed greenway location and is directly adjacent to the town beach. Located between the coastline and the Hamock River, it functions as a coastal wetland habitat and provides flood protection for residential properties to the south. The site is less than 1 mile from the town’s commercial center. This area will be accessed along a proposed coastline trail.
Project Name: Red Mountain (Gallucci) Preserve
Sponsor: Cornwall Conservation Trust, Inc.
Total Area: 72.5 acres
Description: This project is the acquisition of 72 acres of core forest on Johnson Road in Cornwall. The property is almost completely surrounded by protected land and makes up a forest block of 2,350 acres. The headwater stream of Birdseye Brook is on the property and provides 2,500 linear feet of headwater stream for the Housatonic River. The preserve is a dry oak forest. The property is accessible from Johnson Road, which is just off Connecticut Routes 4 and 43. A section of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System runs along the northern boundary of the property. The Cornwall Conservation Trust will construct a public trail to Birdseye Brook which will connect to the Mohawk Trail. The cities of Torrington and Winsted, which are distressed communities, are within 15 miles of the preserve.
Town: East Lyme
Project Name: Pattagansett River Watershed Preserve
Sponsor: East Lyme Land Trust
Total Area: 38.7 acres
Description: This property is surrounded on three sides by more than 3,000 acres of protected forest. A wetland on the easterly boundary forms the headwaters of the Pattagansett Watershed, which supplies half of the drinking water for the Town of East Lyme. Some 15 acres are in early successional forest providing habitat for the New England cottontail. Other features of the sight include wetlands, vernal pools, and rock ledges. There is potential to create trails that connect to the 14-mile Goodwin Trail.
Town: East Lyme & Montville
Project Name: Nehantic Nature Preserve
Sponsor: Woodsman Land Trust Inc.
Total Area: 320 acres
Description: This proposal is for a large tract of forestland on the Montville/East Lyme border. The site is less than half a mile from the Holmes Road entrance to the Nehantic State Forest. This property is located in the Latimer Brook watershed which flows into the Niantic River. Important features of the site include ledge outcrops, inland wetlands, and two ridgelines. Mixed hardwoods such as black oak and shagbark hickory grow here. Red maple, black gum, and American elm grow in the wetlands on site. An Eversource powerline right-of-way creates borders of young forest growth. The site is located within multiple Natural Diversity Database areas. The Woodsmen Land Trust plans to create a hiking trail that will connect to the Nehantic State Forest trails.
Project Name: Wraight Property
Sponsor: Northern Connecticut Land Trust
Total Area: 118.4 acres
Description: This large tract of undeveloped land is located next to the Shenipsit State Forest. The property is primarily forested and has 3.7 acres of hayfields near Webster Road. Charters Brook runs north to south through the center of the property and into Shenipsit Lake Reservoir which provides drinking water to the surrounding towns. The abandoned portion of Porter Road will be converted into a 2-mile trail and will provide a link to the Soapstone Loop C trail, the White Dot trail, and the Shenipsit Blue hiking trails. The site can be accessed along 1,625 feet of frontage on Webster Road.
Project Name: Sheep Farm South
Sponsor: Groton Open Space Association
Total Area: 103.49 acres
Description: The Groton Open Space Association seeks to secure 100 acres of open space to add to their recently secured Sheep Farm property. The acquisition of this second parcel would provide a link between Groton’s east-west X-Town Trail and north-south greenbelt. More than 1,700 acres of open space are adjacent to the property. A unique vernal pool system connects to Fort Hill Brook. Fort Hill Brook flows through the property into Mumford Cove, a rehabilitated coastal area. Access to the property will be available from Fort Hill Road and Flanders Road. A trail will be built to connect the Flanders Road entrance to trails on the initial Sheep Farm property.
Town: Hamden & Bethany
Project Name: Hendrickson Property Acquisition
Sponsor: South Central Regional Water Authority
Total Area: 7.53 acres
Description: The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) aims to purchase 5.4 acres of Class I and 1.6 acres of Class II land. The property will connect to 164 acres of RWA land that abuts the property. Two streams on the property drain into Lake Watrous, a public water supply reservoir. The parcel is part of the West Rock Ridge and harbors species of special concern. Ninety percent of the property is made up of prime farmland soils. The RWA will allow for passive recreation, timber and cord wood harvesting, and environmental education and research. The 19-mile Quinnipiac Trail crosses the property.
Project Name: DePodesta Property
Sponsor: South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority
Total Area: 14 acres
Description: The RWA seeks to acquire 14 acres behind Forest Street in Hamden. Upon purchase, 9 acres will be Class I and 5 acres will be Class II land. There are 2 unnamed streams on site that flow into Lake Whitney, a public water supply reservoir. More than half of the property contains designated prime farmland soils or additional statewide important farmland soils. The Farmington Canal Trail abuts the property to the west. The RWA will evaluate the property to determine if additional recreational uses are permitted. The property is located in an area with extensive development. Downtown New Haven is 5 miles from the property and the “Centerville” section of Hamden is located here.
Project Name: Maynard Farm
Sponsor: Avalonia Land Conservancy
Total Area: 99.82 acres
Description: Maynard Farm borders Avery Preserve and would almost double its size. There are 30 acres of wetlands on the site which flow into Billings-Avery Brook and then into Morgan Reservoir. This reservoir provides drinking water for the towns of Groton, Ledyard, and Preston. The property is part of one of the largest intact coastal forests in Connecticut. The site is part of a proposed greenway/wildlife corridor in Ledyard. Habitats within the property include a red maple swamp and an acidic Atlantic white cedar swamp. A mixed hardwood forest and former pasture create habitat for an array of plant and animal species. Access to the property from 32 Avery Hill Road will offer passive recreation on 1.37 miles of trail. A link will be created to the trails on Avery Preserve. Maynard Farm is less than 10 miles from Groton, Norwich, and New London.
Project Name: Dowd Hollow Preserve
Sponsor: Madison Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
Total Area: 144.47 acres
Description: This property abuts land held by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) and lies within the East River Watershed. Dowd Hollow Brook bisects the property flowing from its headwaters in the RWA’s White Cedar Swamp and eventually discharging into the Long Island Sound. The parcel hosts numerous habitats including vernal pools, open fields, shrub meadows, forested wetlands, and a cranberry bog. A large portion of the property lies within a Natural Diversity Database Area. Acquisition of this property will protect one of the largest forested tracts in southern Connecticut. The MLCT will create a new public parking area and new hiking trails linking to RWA’s Genesee Recreation Area and Ironwoods Preserve.
Project Name: Lombardo Farm
Sponsor: Manchester Land Trust
Total Area: 102 acres
Description: This proposal from the Manchester Land Trust will add 102 acres to their Bush Hill Preserve. A part of this preserve known as the Botti Farm, was purchased with the help of a 2016 OSWA grant. Lombardo Farm is completely surrounded by open space and would allow for passive recreation with the construction of trails connecting to Bush Hill Preserve. Access will be available along the property’s 2,000 feet of frontage on Hillstown Road. A mature forest and a small spring-fed pond provide wildlife habitat. An open meadow provides habitat for migrating birds and pollinator species. The towns of Manchester, East Hartford, and Glastonbury are within a short distance of the site.
Project Name: Lamentation Mountain: Tighe-Baldyga Property Acquisition
Sponsor: Berlin Land Trust, Inc.
Total Area: 47 acres
Description: Located at the north end of Lamentation Mountain in Middletown, this parcel is part of the Metacomet Ridge. It contains five critical habitats and three basalt ridges. The property is landlocked by 450 acres of protected lands, and 190 acres of undeveloped land. This parcel is part of the 330.15 acres watershed of the eastern-most, north-flowing tributary of Spruce Brook. Forestry resources include a swamp cottonwood grove and an abundance of sugar maple, hop hornbeam, red cedar, chestnut oak, hickory and slippery elm. High crests and ridgelines create suitable habitat for raptors, hawks and owls. The property can be accessed from Lamentation Drive in Berlin via the Mattabesset Trail or from Stantack Road, which can accommodate parking for ten vehicles.
Project Name: The Bond Property
Sponsor: Avalonia Land Conservancy, Inc.
Total Area: 669 acres
Description: The Avalonia Land Conservancy seeks to purchase 669 acres of land previously used for sand and gravel extraction. The property lies within the Niantic River watershed. Barnes Reservoir and Bogue Brook Reservoir lie to the north and south of the property respectively and are part of the New London water system. Latimer Brook runs along the western boundary of the property and will allow for trout fishing opportunities. Prior gravel extraction on the property has resulted in multiple states of forest regrowth. The property lies within the Lower Connecticut River New England Cottontail Conservation Focus Area. Flooded quarries, accessible by dirt roads with parking areas, will offer paddling and fishing opportunities. Thirty acres of the property are currently being used to grow feed hay which the conservancy will continue to allow.
Project Name: Frankfurter Project
Sponsor: Town of Pomfret
Total Area: 131 acres
Description: This 131-acre parcel is almost completely surrounded by protected open space and is adjacent to the Airline Trail. The property was logged about 10 years ago and is now an early successional forest. It is part of a wildlife corridor made up of more than 2,000 acres of open space. There are 2 inland wetlands and a pond on the property. Old logging roads on the site will be used for passive recreation. They can be accessed from several points along the airline trail. Access is also available on Wolf Den Road and from the New England Forestry Foundation’s trail system. Bass fishing will be permitted on the property’s pond.
Project Name: Pope Property
Sponsor: Salisbury Association
Total Area: 78.99 acres
Description: This project is the acquisition of 79 acres of Wetauwanchu Mountain. The property abuts the Appalachian Trail on U.S. Route 4 in Salisbury and is part of 2,000 acres of undeveloped land. The property is within an aquifer protection zone and protects the headwaters of several brooks including 685 linear feet of Spruce Swamp Brook, a Class AA stream. The water of Spruce Swamp Brook flows into the Salmon Kill which drains into the Housatonic River. Approximately 18 acres of the property contain prime and statewide important farmland soils. The property is located within the Appalachian Trail and the Housatonic River greenways. Important habitat types are on the property and include, dry oak forest, Laurentian-Acadian Meadow/Shrub Swamp, and a Circumneutral Maple/Ash Basin Swamp. Hiking and fishing opportunities will be made available to the public. The Pope Property is close to Torrington (24 miles) and Winsted (25 miles) which are distressed municipalities.
Project Name: D’Alton Property
Sponsor: Sharon Land Trust
Total Area: 70.37 acres
Description: Located on West Woods Road in Sharon, these 70 acres of undeveloped land consist of core forest, bedrock outcrops, open wetlands, and a ridgeline visible from Connecticut Route 4. The property abuts Skiff Mountain Wildlife Preserve and is part of a 15-mile wildlife corridor. Guinea Brook, a headwater trout production stream that drains to the Housatonic River, is located close to the property. There is a trail system already developed on the site. A pond can be accessed from Westwood 2 Road and will allow fishing. The D’Alton Property is close to Torrington and Winsted which are classified as distressed communities.
Project Name: School Street/Marion Ave
Sponsor: Town of Southington
Total Area: 5.5 acres
Description: This project is the acquisition of 2 separate parcels in a residential area in Southington. A tributary of Judd Brook runs across the parcels from west to east. Three acres of wetlands are found within the 2 parcels. Within 700 feet of the easternmost parcel is an 8-acre undeveloped wetland area that is adjacent to 170 acres of town owned open space. The town reported potential to secure an addition 7 acres within the corridor. A 1-acre field on the property is suitable for haying. The parcel is approximately 3 miles from downtown Southington.
Project Name: North End Park Acquisition
Sponsor: Town of Stratford
Total Area: 4.3 acres
Description: This proposal aims to purchase 4-plus acres of open space contiguous to the town-owned North End Park in Stratford. The purpose of the acquisition is to protect 300 linear feet of stream that flows into the park’s pond, and to create a hiking trail for passive recreation. The existing pond offers fishing for largemouth bass and pan fish species. Fishing would be made available to the public in the acquired stream. The property is within the greater Bridgeport urban area and is easily accessible for citizens living in the North End of Stratford.
Town: Washington Depot
Project Name: Hillside Farm
Sponsor: Steep Rock Association
Total Area: 85 acres
Description: Steep Rock Association aims to preserve 85 acres of open-space farmland and intact core forest. It will use the land to extend its trail system and to permit continued agricultural use. The parcel contains 1,800 feet of frontage on Sprain Brook; a Class A cold-water stream. The site is less than 2 miles from the Audubon Society’s 13,800-acre Important Bird Area. The parcel is part of 450 acres of intact core forest. There are three key habitats of Greatest Conservation Need located on the property. These habitats are Appalachian hemlock northern hardwood forest, laurentian Acadian meadow/shrub swamp/shrub thicket, and circumneutral maple/ash basin swamp. Steep Rock Association plans to create a 1.5-mile hiking trail, and will allow catch and release fly fishing. Thirteen acres are currently being farmed for hay and corn and will continue to be farmed after purchase. It can be accessed by the public from Nettle Hollow Road.
Project Name: Toby Hill VIII
Sponsor: Town of Westbrook
Total Area: 146.74 acres
Description: This parcel is part of a 600-acre block of core forest which includes some existing protected lands. It is a mixed coastal hardwood forest and contains oak, hickory, beech, black birches, and red maples. The upper reaches of Trout Brook, a Class A tributary, runs through the center of the property. Native brook trout have been recorded on site. The Connecticut Water Company’s Holbrook well site is located downstream. The property features moderate and steep slopes, glacial erratics, scenic vistas, and a plateau interspersed with wetlands. The property is favorable for passive recreation and is accessible over an unpaved portion of town-owned Toby Hill Road.
Project Name: Weston Farms
Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy
Total Area: 74.16 acres
Description: The Nature Conservancy aims to purchase 74-plus acres of forest directly adjacent to Devil’s Den Preserve. This is The Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Connecticut and is part of 15,300 acres of contiguous forestland with high conservation value. Weston Farms is a mature, mixed hardwood forest that lies within the Saugatuck Central Greenbelt. The parcel lies entirely within the West Branch sub watershed of the Saugatuck River, a Class A stream. A hiking trail will connect to the 20-mile loop trail at Devil’s Den.
Project Name: Fromson-Strassler Acquisition
Sponsor: Aspetuck Land Trust
Total Area: 85.86 acres
Description: This property is adjacent to the Aspetuck Land Trust’s 118 acre Honey Hill Preserve. The site is part of a forest block assemblage of more than 350 acres. There are 5 wetlands on the property covering 22 acres. The wetlands on the northern end of the property form the headwaters of the West branch of the Saugatuck River. American eel and Black-nosed dace have been collected in the West branch. Migratory bird species and amphibians inhabit the site. A trail head and parking area at the end of Upper Parish Drive will create a link to the area’s regional trail system.
Project Name: 183 Ridgefield Road
Sponsor: Wilton Land Conservation Trust
Total Area: 13.4 acres
Description: This is a proposal by the Wilton Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) to protect 13 acres of open field habitat. The property runs parallel with Ridgefield Road and is about 1 mile outside the center of Wilton. There are 12 acres of Prime and Statewide Important Farmland Soils on the site. The northern 2 acres of the property is a forested wetland habitat. The open fields are in the center of the Wilton pollinator pathway. A drumlin landform is located on the site. The WLCT plans to create a trail that will be accessible for people with mobility challenges, as well as a wheel chair accessible gravel parking area. The site will have educational kiosks and opportunities for school groups to learn about that state’s agricultural history. This property is located within lower Fairfield County.