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State awards $4.7 million to help protect open space

HARTFORD — The state of Connecticut is awarding $4.7 million to help 17 communities purchase a total of 1,170 acres of open space.

The funds announced Monday also include $50,000 to help renovate an urban garden in New Haven and develop a new garden in Hartford.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Connecticut’s tradition of preserving open space dates back to the early 1900s. He said the latest grant funding “protects important natural resources” while ensuring the state “maintains its natural beauty.”

Connecticut has a goal of protecting 673,210 acres, or preserving 21 percent of the state’s land, by 2023. Currently, more than 500,000 acres have been designated as state or local open space lands, which is close to 75 percent of the state’s goal.

“Connecticut’s tradition of preserving open space began in the early 1900s and continues today with a focus on land preservation that protects important natural resources and ensuring that our state maintains its natural beauty,” Malloy said in a statement. “Through these grants, we will increase the availability of open space to provide our residents with protected lands to enjoy for outdoor recreation all across our state.”

Grants were awarded to the following communities:

OPEN SPACE LAND ACQUISITIONS/EASEMENTS

Town: Ansonia
Project: Abe Stone Park Expansion
Sponsor: City of Ansonia
Grant Award: $112,500
Total Acres: 13.82
Description: This project, in the northern part of the city along the Ansonia/Seymour town line, is an addition to the existing, City-owned Abe Stone Park (20 acres.) Private development proposals have been drafted and submitted for this parcel, however, both have been rejected. There are existing trails on this east sloping (steep), and an undeveloped wood lot.

Town: Branford
Project: Warner/Hull Property
Sponsor: Branford Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $91,000
Total Acres: 29.1
Description: Located abutting and just south of I-95 along the Branford-Guilford town line, this undeveloped wood lot within the Hoadley Creek watershed contributes to an existing greenway of unfragmented forest and complements existing preserved open space. Wildlife habitat, water quality, forest protection and public recreation will be enhanced or permanently protected.

Town: Cornwall
Project Title: Evans Parcel
Sponsor: Cornwall Conservation Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $211,250
Total Acres: 90
Description: This property is located in the northwestern part of the town next to the Goshen boundary. The property is forested, with wetlands and the headwaters of the Hollenbeck River. Combined with the Robinson Preserve, this acquisition forms a 152-acre Mohawk Trail preserve. Entirely forested, the property rises to considerable heights from Route 43 and provides a varied number of habitats for species of interest.

Town: East Lyme
Project Title: Niantic River Headwaters
Sponsor: New England Forestry Foundation, Inc.
Grant Award: $305,500
Total Acres: 33
Description: This property, l located just north of the I-95 and I-395 intersection, is the acquisition of 33 acres directly adjacent to the 166-acre Gurley Brook Preserve in East Lyme that recently received an open space grant. The parcel is a prime undeveloped forested lot within the Niantic River watershed and within the Route 11 Greenway.

Town: Fairfield
Project Title: 5655 Park Avenue
Sponsor: Town of Fairfield
Grant Award: $83,750
Total Acres: 2.8
Description: Located in the northeast corner, adjacent to the Merritt Parkway (Exit 47) in a residential area, this 2.8-acre lot abuts an existing 7.23-acre lot owned by CTDOT. The DOT lot is being discussed as a transfer parcel. The site is located within the Mill River Watershed, has wetlands and existing trails.

Town: Farmington
Project Title: South Ridge & Settlement Road
Sponsor: Town of Farmington
Grant Award: $650,000
Total Acres: 107.1
Description: Located along the Farmington and Plainville town line, this property is a large unfragmented woodland that encompasses an entire traprock ridge habitat, including wetlands at the toes of the slopes, with steep traprock slopes rising to the ridgeline and gradual eastern slope. Nearly 2/3 of a mile of the Metacomet Trail is located on this property, which is part of the Metacomet Ridge, an officially designated Greenway System.

Town: Haddam
Project Title: Beaver Ledges
Sponsor: Haddam Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $209,300
Total Acres: 130
Description: The goal of this acquisition is to protect and make progress in the linking of land within the Connecticut River watershed and the Menunketesuck-Cockaponset Regional Greenway. This undisturbed and unfragmented forest block abuts (three sides) Cockaponset State Forest in the Tylerville section of Haddam. Beaver Ledges contains the majority of an active beaver pond, with the remainder being owned by Connecticut River Watershed Council (an abutting parcel.)

Town: Hamden
Project Title: Rude Property
Sponsor: South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority
Grant Award: $84,532
Total Acres: 28.9
Description: This property is an addition to a drinking water supply reservoir — 11 acres will be Class I and approximately 18 acres will be Class II watershed land. The property, located in northwestern Hamden, has two intermittent streams and associated wetlands that will be protected as well as an existing trail system, which connects Brooksvale Park to other trails in Naugatuck State Forest (including the Quinnipiac Trail.)

Town: Lyme
Project Title: Hawthorn Preserve
Sponsor: Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $260,000
Total Acres: 82.5
Description: This acquisition protects nearly 1/4 mile of Whalebone Creek and the associated currently undisturbed brackish wetlands in this watershed. This parcel will become part of a protected wildlife refuge and a contiguous forestland block of more than 1,000 acres. Existing trails on abutting protected land can be extended onto this property and beyond.

Town: Madison
Project Title: South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (CCRWA) Class III — 2 Parcels
Sponsor: Madison Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $715,000
Total Acres: 63.78
Description: This project is the acquisition of two parcels that are currently owned by the CCRWA in the Town of Madison. These undeveloped woodlots are classified as Class III land and can be sold. Acquisition would protect this land, the forest, and the associated habitats, provide for expanded trail development and interconnect several abutting open space parcels for a continuous Greenway.

Town: New Canaan
Project Title: Silvermine-Fowler Preserve
Sponsor: New Canaan Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $535,000
Total Acres: 6.35
Description: This woodland lot abuts the 41-acre Kelley Upland Sanctuary owned by the sponsor, the New Canaan Land Trust. The parcel contains a varied range of wildlife habitats including meadow, woodlands, wetlands, and a small pond. The pond has the ability to be used for catch and release fishing. The existing house will be razed and the infrastructure, and driveway will be used by the public for access with linkages to existing trails.

Town: Sharon
Project Title: Dawn Hill Road–Conservation Easement
Sponsor: Sharon Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $277,500
Total Acres: 63
Description: This project is the purchase of a Conservation Easement on the 63-acre parcel located in the southeast corner of Sharon. The project is a highly visible ridgeline woodlot, which can be seen from Route 7 (Scenic Road.) Abutting the linear Appalachian Trail corridor, the undeveloped nature of this parcel would contribute to the continuous unfragmented forest block and the associated habitats. A proposed trail spur of the Appalachian Trail is possible.

Town: Sprague
Project Title: Bombero Property
Sponsor: Town of Sprague
Grant Award: $174,000
Total Acres: 7
Comments: This property is to be the foothold of a green/blue way along the western banks of the Shetucket River from its beginnings in Baltic, the center of Sprague, to the Sprague Land Preserve The property has large open active fields, steep (elevation from 65′ water edge to 270′) forested embankments and wetland with associated swamp grasses. The area has been stocked for pheasant hunting as well as trout fishing. The town has a developed municipal park directly across the river. With over 2,500 feet of frontage on western sides of the Shetucket River and the property’s western boundary being Beaver Brook, there should be ample access to these water resources.

Town: Stafford
Project Title: Nipmuck Woods
Sponsor: Northern Connecticut Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $107,500
Total Acres: 86
Description: Within the Roaring Brook watershed, this undeveloped forest lot complements the abutting Nipmuck State Forest and the associated White Farm. This parcel has frontage on Buckley Highway and Fenton Road, and has a varied rocky terrain with many ledge outcroppings.

Town: Suffield
Project Title: Lefcheck Farms — Conservation Easement
Sponsor: Town of Suffield
Grant Award: $174,000
Total Acres: 30
Description: This project is the purchase of Conservation Easement. Acquiring this easement, the property will be protected from development in a highly developable area. It will also provide a linkage to existing open space owned by a subdivision and by the Town. A portion of the property is currently farmed, hay and pasturing (40% for over 100 years). The remaining portion is wooded and hosts nine identified vernal pools.

Town: Waterford
Project Title: Silver Falls Community Forest
Sponsor: New England Forestry Foundation, Inc.
Grant Award: $365,000
Total Acres: 185
Description: This acquisition works toward the goal of protecting an existing 2,000 acre unfragmented forest block within the Route 11 Greenway. This forest block would be used to protect existing wildlife habitats, contribute to the cleansing of the Niantic River watershed, maintain a healthy forest and provide recreational opportunities for the public. Located in the northwest corner of Waterford, where Montville, Waterford and East Lyme converge, acquisition of these two parcels contribute to this regional goal.

Town: Winchester/Torrington
Project Title: TorWin Farm
Sponsor: Winchester Land Trust, Inc.
Grant Award: $307,500
Total Acres: 121
Description: Located in two distressed communities, Winchester and Torrington, this 121-acre acquisition aids each municipality to increase its acreage and percentage of open space. The property is composed of 22 acres of grassland and 99 acres of undeveloped forest and includes endangered species in the area.

URBAN GREEN & COMMUNITY GARDENS

Town: New Haven
Project Title: Ferry Street Gardens Revitalization
Sponsor: New Haven Farms
Grant Award: $22,790
Description: This grant is for renovation of the site to allow expanded access, growing area, security and program area. Also included in the renovation is removal of several tree stumps, existing deteriorated non-functional fencing, installation of new fencing, and construction of raised beds which would include the purchase of lumber and organic garden soil and compost, purchase of a shed and compost bins, picnic tables, and a security camera.

Town: Hartford
Project Title: Pope Park Community Garden
Sponsor: Pope Park Designated Fund
Grant Award: $26,400
Description: This garden will be developed in a section of Pope Park known as Bankside Grove and will be located adjacent to Park Place Towers (management has agreed to fund the water and lighting cost.) The 0.2 acre garden site is a collaborative effort between Pope Hartford Designated Fund, the Friends of Pope Park and KNOX. The grant will provide site work, purchase of material to construct garden bed framing, purchase of organic garden soil, mulch and compost, installation of fencing, development of an irrigation system, a storage structure, and access paths for this community garden project. Compost bins, rain water collectors, picnic tables, planting of fruit trees and other amenities will also be included.