Box Turtles and The Firefly Sanctuary on Smith Ridge Road

It's a female box turtle about 40 years old. Very beautiful. Note the heart design above the right leg. Many box turtles don't move more than 500 feet in their lifetimes. We have one that walks up on our lawn from the woods once every ten years. 

Mowing the field in the firefly sanctuary more than once a year, after the first hard frost, would probably kill this one. 

John Engel
203-247-4700  cell/text

Aquarion Ruling Expected Today

Land Trust Gives Thanks for Land (Letter to the Editor, NC Advertiser) March 16, 2016

Dear Members of the New Canaan Land Trust,
The Farmers Almanac has an old weather proverb: Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring. (Well…maybe in another day or two!!)
Here’s a Spring update on the activities of your New Canaan Land Trust.
At year-end 2015 we gratefully received an 8.25-acre gift of diverse woodlands including a section of Poor House Brook off Smith Ridge Road. This followed the mid-summer acquisition of the 4-acre “Firefly Sanctuary” also off of Smith Ridge. These preserves create important wildlife corridors and bring Trust holdings and conservation easements to 380-acres throughout Town.
Last summer six New Canaan High Schoolers participated in our Stewardship Program led by Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (YFES) Graduate Student Shelley Clark. With a continuation grant from the Anderson Family Foundation and support from local business organizations, we are expanding the Stewardship Program in 2016 under the leadership of another YFES Graduate, Michael Johnson. Our goal is to deepen the natural world experience of our youth through land stewardship projects, conservation literature and mentorship.
As Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina “Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Work continues apace to improve public access from Apple Tree Lane to the 14-acre Livingston-Higley Meadows. Our 2015 Summer Stewards blazed a new trail and a 200 foot raised walkway was built through wetlands. The new entrance project was undertaken with support from the Stuart Higley Foundation.  Public visitation will be possible later this Spring.
Our long term “Gateways of New Canaan” program to reset dry stone walls along scenic Land Trust parcels got a great start thanks to a grant from the New Canaan Community Foundation. Nearly 400 feet of wall was rebuilt along the Colhoun Meadow & Woodlands off Davenport Ridge Road. The 21-acre Land Trust parcel will be ready for public visitation this Summer with a wildflower garden and winding 2-mile trail loop.
Planning is now underway to complete an Irwin Park to Nature Center Greenlink across Land Trust parcels and easements with the help of community resources and an Eagle Scout project. The project scope includes an extensive raised walkway and several small bridges. Envisioned in 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development, this completes a long-held dream of adding walking trails and greenlinks near Town Center.
April will also mark the start of a joint Land Trust and Trust for Public Land campaign to raise funds to acquire the 6.5-acre Jim Fowler Parcel off Silvermine Road, which adjoins the 41-acre Hicks-Audubon Sanctuary. Combined, this would create a 47-acre “Silvermine Sanctuary” that includes the varied wildlife and bird habitat of meadows, woodlands, wetlands and a pond.  More news to come…
In summary, your Land Trust Board is pursuing a policy of building bridges, re-building walls and adding connectivity for citizens and wildlife in our Town.
We recognize that there are many good causes to support, but few in your backyard or just down the road.  Your membership helps us become more proactive advocates for open space in New Canaan, protecting wildlife sanctuaries and the scenic beauty of our Town.
Research shows that people who spend time outside in sunny, green natural spaces tend to be happier and healthier. This Vernal Equinox marks a happy moment to plan a leisurely stroll through the Nancy Watson-Symington Woodlands off Wellesley Drive or the W. Prichard Browne Sanctuary off Valley Road. The Board of Trustees welcomes you to listen to returning songbirds and spring peepers and enjoy your Land Trust.
The Board of the New Canaan Land Trust
Chris Schipper, President
Art Berry, Vice President
Tom Cronin, Treasurer
Julia Portale, Secretary
Haik Kavookjian, Land Steward
Siw De Gysser
John Engel
John Fusek
Sally Hines
Emily Nissley
Carter Norton
Ditte Reifsnyder
Penny Ross

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NC Advertiser: Land Trust Announces New Leadership

Land Trust announces new leadership

The New Canaan Land Trust announces a planned leadership transition from Chris Schipper to Art Berry as incoming president effective June 1, and the recruitment of a new Executive Director, Mike Johnson. Incoming Land Trust President Art Berry, left, Executive Director Mike Johnson and President Emeritus Chris Schipper.
The New Canaan Land Trust has new leadership. Incoming Land Trust President Art Berry, left, Executive Director Mike Johnson and President Emeritus Chris Schipper.
The New Canaan Land Trust announces a planned leadership transition from Chris Schipper to Art Berry as incoming president effective June 1, and the recruitment of a new Executive Director, Mike Johnson.
Outgoing President Chris Schipper stated, “it has been an honor to serve as president of the Land Trust for the past four years. I  have found a strong and longstanding undercurrent of support for land conservation in New Canaan, manifested by the growth in membership and increased acreage under protection.”
Chris will remain on the board of the Land Trust with a focus on open space development.
Berry, a 32-year resident of New Canaan, has been a strong proponent for open space since the 1970s. Having served as Land Trust vice president and treasurer for the past two years, he is well versed in Land Trust management and issues. Going forward, he plans “to focus on preserving more open space, continuing the growth of engagement of New Canaan young people and the improvement of our overall land stewardship.”
Marking an important transition from an all-volunteer organization, the Land Trust board is also pleased to announce that Johnson joins June 6 as executive director following his graduation from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
“I look forward to meeting members and supporters of the Land Trust, engaging with the community, and introducing advanced land stewardship methods to continue and expand upon the tremendous progress made to-date in support of the Land Trust mission,” he said.

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2 Barred Owls Released on Livingston-Higley Meadow


This owl release adds a sweat new dimension to a great NCLT property. Thanks for your continued focus to improve LHM.


With the new walkway, trail and rebuilt stone wall - Livingston Higley Meadows epitomizes the Land Trust mission for open spaces, wildlife sanctuaries and scenic beauty. Having two barred owls released as new residents is one of the reasons why we do this...

Among 75-100 visitors were many neighborhood children and families. To a person all remarked at the scenic beauty of this parcel.

On the Land Trust side, Art & Ellie Berry as well as John & Betsy Fusek attended. Regular volunteer Steve Pinney joined too. 

During a tour of LHM Friday evening Dara Reid said the parcel was ideal and decided to release two barred owls - a female and a male. If they take up residence we might nickname them Martina & Ross. We hope to work regularly with Wildlife in Crisis to release more birds, reptiles and mammals on our 70 parcels - fulfilling our wildlife sanctuary mission

All the best,
Chris Schipper

Rehabilitated Barred Owl Release this Saturday, 7:30pm at the Livingston-Higley Meadows

What: Rehabilitated Owl Release 
When: Saturday June 4th at 7:30pm

Where: Livingston-Higley Meadow
accessed off the Apple Tree Lane Cul-de-sac.

Wildlife in Crisis, a wildlife hospital in Weston, nurtures thousands of injured birds like this barred owl each year.
This Barred Owl was found badly injured in New Canaan 
6 months ago and was brought to Wildlife in Crisis by a compassionate person who found her on the side of the road after she had been struck by a car. This owl was treated for head trauma and a fractured leg at the Wildlife in Crisis clinic. Eventually she was moved to a large aviary for flight conditioning and is now ready to be reintroduced to the wild, back in her hometown of New Canaan. 

Please join Wildlife in Crisis, in partnership with the New Canaan Community Foundation and the New Canaan Land Trust this Saturday June 4th at 7:30pm at the Livingston-Higley Preserve for the homecoming of this rehabilitated, healthy barred owl. It is sure to be a beautiful sight to behold! 

For more information please call WIC at 203-544-9913.
Wildlife in Crisis is a volunteer run, non-profit, organization dedicated to wildlife preservation and land conservation. Founded in 1988, each year WIC cares for over 5,000 injured and orphaned wild animals. WIC relies
entirely on donations to care for debilitated wildlife.  
For more information about WIC visit:

Town Hall Public Hearing on 18.9-acre Land Disposal By Aquarion Water Company

When: Wednesday, June 1st at 3pm and 6pm
Where: Town Hall
What: Public Hearing to discuss disposal of Aquarion Land
Who: All Citizens Interested in Preserving Open Space in New Canaan

Dear Friends and Members of the New Canaan Land Trust, 

Commissioners of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) will hold hearings tomorrow to discuss Aquarions proposed disposal of 18.9-acres of Noroton River watershed woodlands bordered by neighbors on Frogtown, Welles, West and Indian Waters Drive.

Please show support and attend the Public Hearing tomorrow to let the PURA Commissioners know that preserving open space and wildlife sanctuaries is important to all of us in New Canaan.  This hearing has bearing on Water Companies that control over 600-acres of reservoirs, wetlands and woodlands in our Town that may be divested over time.

The First Selectman and Chairman of the Town Council as well as the Conservation Commission and Land Trust have all submitted letters supporting preservation of the 18.9-acre parcel. These letters are available on the PURA Docket:

Your support will make a difference. Please attend.


The Board of Directors of the New Canaan Land Trust

Dumping of Landscape Debris at the Autumn Lane Circle

> Dear NCLT Members:
> I was watering some recent plantings at the Fieldcrest/Autumn Lane property and was discouraged to see recent dumping at the Autumn Lane circle. Our "dear neighbor letter" has done nothing to discourage a neighbor/ landscaper from filling in our wall with stone and dirt. A bit frustrating that this still goes on. The likelihood of identifying the culprit will be slim so I will plan a " no dumping" sign however distasteful.

Snapping Turtle crossing to Land Trust Parcel

Snapping Turtle visits Land Trust

The common snapping turtle is noted for its combative disposition when out of the water with its powerful beak-like jaws, and highly mobile head and neck. In water, they are likely to flee and hide themselves underwater in sediment. Snapping turtles have a life-history strategy characterized by high and variable mortality of embryos and hatchlings, delayed sexual maturity, extended adult longevity, and repeated reproductive events with low reproductive success per reproductive event. Females, and presumably also males, in more northern populations mature later (at 15–20 years) and at a larger size. Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data suggest a maximum age over 100 years.[3]

Spotted this morning entering the Land Trust parcel on Sleepy Hollow Road. Probably in search of a mate or nesting site.

You never know what you'll encounter on a walk in the woods. Enjoy our open spaces!!!