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State awards more than $9 million in open space grants

January 4, 2013 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Purchase of the Zeiller property is part of a larger effort to better protect the Roaring Brook watershed. In this grant round, there are three projects within this watershed – two in East Haddam and one in Lyme. Combined, these properties will create a greenbelt of more than 750 acres. Image source: openwalls.com/creative commons use 2013

More than $9 million in Open Space Preservation and Watershed Land Acquisition grants were announced this week that will allow 35 to buy a total of 2,732 acres to be preserved as open space.

“Land conservation is an important investment in our future, and moves us closer to meeting our goal of protecting 21 percent of Connecticut’s land as open space in the next ten years,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in his announcement. “These preservation projects are key to maintaining our high quality of life and making Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The program, administered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) assists land purchase using state bonds and funding from the 2005 Community Investment Act (a fund contributed to by banks).

Connecticut’s goal is to protect 673,210 acres of land by 2023.

Currently, the state has 496,182 acres designated as state or local open space lands, 73.7 percent of the goal.

More than $109 million in state funding has been awarded to municipalities, nonprofit land conservation organizations and water companies to assist in the purchase of 27,440 acres of land in 128 cities and towns.

DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty also noted, “The community gardens initiative was added to the open space grant program in 2007 to address land preservation needs in urban areas… This portion of the grant program acknowledges that preserving places people care about is as important in our cities and inner suburbs as it is in more rural areas.”

Projects funded under this year’s grant program in or affecting the HTNP readership area include:

  • Puchalski Property, Town of Cheshire, $200,000 to buy 109 acres -

Running along the ridgeline on the Prospect-Cheshire town line, this parcel abuts protected open space to the north, south, and west. Ownership will protect the ridgeline and its diverse wildlife, forests, and wetlands. The existing structure on this property will be razed to provide parking and a trail head to the existing trails.

  • 88 Brainard Road, Norwich Public Utilities, Colchester and Salem, $157,000 to buy 52.9 acres -

This acquisition will expand the Deep River public water supply watershed. The parcel is bisected by Brainard Brook, which feeds directly into the reservoir. This property, once purchased, will be classified as Class 1 watershed land.

  • Zeiller Associates Property, Town of East Haddam, $232,500 to buy 98.22 acres

Purchase of this property is part of a larger effort to better protect the Roaring Brook watershed. In this grant round, there are three projects within this watershed – two in East Haddam and one in Lyme. Combined, these properties will create a greenbelt of more than 750 acres. The Zeiller property and others being slated for protection are upland forest blocks with intermittent streams, woodland wetlands and vernal pools. The Zeiller property has 4,000 feet of frontage along Roaring Brook and contains healthy and diverse wildlife and vegetative habitats and existing trails.

  • Pages Property, Town of East Haddam, $464,000 to buy 238 acres -

Purchase of this property also is part of a larger effort to better protect the Roaring Brook watershed. This property abuts the Dean Easement area; combined, this is a greenbelt of more than 750 acres. These parcels are upland forest blocks (hardwood), having intermittent streams, woodland wetlands and vernal pools. The property has 1,500 feet of frontage along Roaring Brook. Because of the proximity to a wetland resource, it offers healthy and diverse wildlife and vegetative habitats.

  • Lord Property, Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. and East Haddam, $327,000 to buy 100.25 acres

Located in northern Lyme along Route 82 and within Whalebone Cove Watershed, this parcel has more than 3,900 feet of frontage along Roaring Brook. It is part of the larger effort to better protect the Roaring Brook Watershed – there are two other projects in this grant round and there were two in a previous grant round. The parcel is characteristic of a flood plain forest, having wetlands, undeveloped upland forest, fields and rock outcropping with ledges. There is an existing trail system on this property.

  • Rita Edwards Preserve, Town of Hampton, $101,500 to buy 50.8 acres -

This undeveloped forested lot is located on the north side of Cedar Swamp Road. The property abuts protected open space land owned by Wyndham Land Trust and Goodwin State Forest. The property is characterized by a slightly sloping terrain that sustains a mixed hardwood forest and wetlands.

  • Cardillo Parcels, Town of Hebron, $165,000 to buy 48.7 acres -

Located on the west side of Route 85/Church Street in the Amston section of Hebron, this property is made up of two parcels that abut state-owned open space – Raymond Brook Marsh and the Air Line Trail. They are key components to the preservation of the Raymond Brook Greenbelt and protection of the associated aquifer.

  • Gunther Farm, Connecticut Farmland Trust, Inc., $350,000 to buy 21.3 acres -

Located along the town-line between Tolland and Vernon this is an acquisition to protect farmland soils. Additional natural resources include: grassland habitat, flood plain of Gages Brook, and endangered wildlife habitat. Connecticut Farm Land Trust will purchase this property, record the Conservation Easement, then sell the property to Tolland County Agricultural Center. The Center will utilize the agricultural fields for their education/agricultural programs and develop and maintain the trails located at this facility.

  • Manchester Property, The New Roxbury Land Trust, Inc. (Union), $146,500 to buy 84 acres -

This is the acquisition of two separate parcels of land in close proximity to each other. The southern parcel is a 53-acre densely forested lot with a 3-acre hay field all within the Natchaug River Watershed. The northern parcel is a 31-acre dense forest block within the Quinebaug River Basin and is contiguous to Nipmuck State Forest. This parcel contains wetlands and a stream that drains to Breakneck Pond.

Posted January 4, 2013

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