Town of Stonington: April 2022 Project Update: Conservation of 232 acres off Al Harvey Road

April 13, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.

Background information: Located in the northwest part of Stonington, the 232-acre property came on the market in the summer of 2020. Nestled between several existing conservation areas, the land has been targeted as a priority by local government and land trusts. Based on requests for assistance finding a way to conserve city land from Stonington First Selectman, Avalonia Land Conservancy, Aquarion Water Company and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) , a national non-profit conservation organization, worked to secure a late 2020 option to purchase the property.

Since then, TPL has worked on the many facets needed to move forward with the purchase, including developing a fundraising strategy and working with partners on an outcome that puts community and conservation at the forefront. center.

Natural resource values, surface water protection, public access and passive recreation opportunities provide a range of public benefits to Stonington and beyond. Areas along streams and in wetlands, along with a dense understory, provide important nesting and cover for a variety of wild and wild species, while Copps Creek empties directly into reservoirs. drinking water from Aquarion Water Company. The preservation of forest lands and wetlands is also important as communities and the state seek to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

April 2022 update: After nearly two years of effort, TPL and its partners created a plan whereby Avalonia Land Conservancy (an accredited land trust) would manage 130 acres of open space and USFWS 102 acres as part of the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge. . Aquarion will also hold a conservation easement in the Avalonia portion and has helped provide funds for this conservation effort. Trails traverse both properties, and both entities prioritize conservation and public access for residents and visitors.

As of the date of this update, the assessments and due diligence are nearly complete. At the April 13, 2022 Board meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was voted on and approved for the Town of Stonington to enter into an agreement with Avalonia Land Conservancy and Trust for Public Land to confirm its intentions regarding the property acquisition and completion of the Copps Brook project, which includes the City’s financial contribution of $270,000 from the Open Spaces Fund.

The closing of this property will probably take place within the month.

Avalonia and the USFWS announced that they will begin work on establishing plans to create trails that protect fragile habitats, while allowing access to beautiful places in the forest. The goal is to have the trails and parking area created by the end of 2022, potentially by the fall. Please stay tuned for a volunteer registration that Avalonia and the city will share, as we will be looking for volunteers to help us as we begin more active stewardship, such as removing invasive plants and formalizing the trail system.

Here are some of the relevant facts about acquiring and managing properties:

This press release was produced by the town of stonington. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

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