NCAdvertiserSelectmen, Finance recommend $267,000 to help Land Trust acquire open space

NewCanaanite: Selectmen, Finance Board Approve $267,000 for Land Trust To Acquire ‘Fowler’ Property in Silvermine

Selectmen, Finance Board Approve $267,000 for Land Trust To Acquire ‘Fowler’ Property in Silvermine

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A local organization dedicated to the preservation of open space took a big step Tuesday toward acquiring a closely watched 6-acre parcel in Silvermine.

Mike Johnson, executive director of the New Canaan Land Trust, stands near a natural pond on the Fowler property and hopeful future “Silvermine Fowler Preserve.” Land Trust and Land for Public Trust officials want to acquire and prepare for public enjoyment of nature the 6-plus-acre Fowler parcel, which would create a full 47-acre property with a contiguous upland sanctuary already under Land Trust ownership. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance in their regular meetings both voted unanimously in favor of a $267,000 special appropriation for the New Canaan Land Trust—funds that are expected to help the organization complete the $1,070,000 purchase of the “Fowler” property. Owned by award-winning zoologist Jim Fowler, the parcel abuts a 41-acre property already owned by the Land Trust and, together, they will form the “Silvermine Fowler preserve.”

“This is something we need to do as a town,” Selectman Nick Williams said during a meeting held in Town Hall in the morning, moments before the group voted 3-0 in favor of the appropriation. “These opportunities do not come around that often so we need to capitalize.”

The finance board followed with a unanimous ‘Yes’ vote at its evening meeting. The Town Council is expected to take up the matter for a final vote at its Jan. 18 meeting.

Asked about the developments, Michael Johnson, executive director of the Land Trust, told NewCanaanite.com: “It is very encouraging to see the town move forward with support of this project, a project that has been widely backed by such a broad constituency across New Canaan. The Land Trust is thankful for the letters and contributions from the community and we look forward to the next steps in securing this property as preserved open space for all to enjoy.”

New Canaanites have voiced strong supportfor a town allocation to help the Land Trust purchase the land, which includes a pond and runs west off of Silvermine Road south of the Valley Road intersection. Proponents have crowded into Town Hall meeting rooms during public hearings on the property and submitted several letters to NewCanaanite.com in favor of a taxpayer appropriation.

The Land Trust has been in talks with the Fowlers for more than one year about the property and secured first right of refusal to close on the land by the end of next month. The total cost of acquiring the land and making it publicly available is about $1.3 million, according to officials with the Land Trust as well as the Connecticut Trust for Public Land, a national organization that has helped with fundraising privately and through grants. The figure includes $80,000 for ongoing maintenance of the property and $150,000 toward the Trust for Public Land. Of the approximately $1 million raised or pledged, more than $700,000 is coming from outside of New Canaan, in the form of a state grant ($535,000) as well as donations, according to the Land Trust.

The local organization first approached the town last month with a request for $365,000 and continued fundraising, bringing the amount needed to “cross the finish line” down to $320,00 and, finally—thanks in part to a $25,000 special grantfrom the New Canaan Community Foundation—to $267,000.

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New Canaan Community Foundation supports New Canaan Land Trust Fowler Purchase

New Canaan Community Foundation supports Acquisition of Silvermine Fowler Preserve

On behalf of the New Canaan Community Foundation, I am pleased to inform you that the New Canaan Community Foundation Board of Directors has unanimously approved the New Canaan Land Trust's special out-of-cycle grant request in the form of a pledge for $25,000.

The use of these grant funds is restricted to the purpose described in your grant proposal, specifically to help fund the successful acquisition of the 6.35-acre Silvermine-Fowler Preserve. 

It is our hope that this pledge will help spark additional investment in the project. We look forward to receiving an update on fundraising and acquisition of the property, at which time our grant will be released. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Foundation, we applaud your dedication and commitment to meeting the needs of our community. 

Sincerely, Leo Karl, III 

NCCF Board Chair

Pictured L-R, John Engel - Land Trust Board, Lauren Patterson - President & CEO Community Foundation. Mike Johnson - Land Trust Executive Director, Art Berry - Land Trust President, Leo Karl, III - Board Chair Community Foundation

New Canaan Land Trust Annual Meeting Reminder - St. Marks Morrill Hall 6:30pm Thursday November 10th.


The Annual Membership Meeting of the New Canaan Land Trust will be held Thursday evening at 6:30 pm on November 10 in Morrill Hall of Saint Mark's Episcopal Church at 111 Oenoke Ridge Road.

All are welcome to attend to learn about Land Trust activities and plans going forward, especially our key strategic initiative - the acquisition of the Silvermine Fowler Preserve.

Our Guest Speaker will be Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson which protects more than 38,000 acres of the Hudson River landscape. Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of Williams College and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 

Join with fellow members and citizens to learn about conservation in scenic New Canaan and the majestic Hudson River. Refreshments will be served.

Art Berry, President



Reminder - New Canaan Land Trust Annual Membership Meeting - November 10th

We would like to remind our members that the Annual Meeting of the membership of the New Canaan Land Conservation Trust, Inc., will be held at 6:30 pm, on Thursday November 10 at Morrill Hall of Saint Mark's Episcopal Church at 111 Oenoke Ridge Road in New Canaan.  You are most welcome to attend and learn about what your Land Trust has accomplished during our fiscal year ended May 30, as well as the various projects that are underway since that date and of course, our outlook going forward, especially as it pertains to our key strategic initiative, the acquisition of the Silvermine Fowler Preserve.



We are delighted that our Guest Speaker will be Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson. Since 1963 Scenic Hudson has protected more than 38,000 acres of the Hudson River and its majestic landscape across 65 parks, preserves and historic sites from the Palisades to Albany. Mr. Sullivan earned a B.A. in political science and a coordinate degree in environmental studies from Williams College and master's degree from Yale University's School of Management and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In recognition of his "dedication and willingness to build the necessary bridges, battle through the bureaucratic red tape and address financial and technical challenges," Mr. Sullivan received the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Distinguished Service Award in 2012.


Come join with fellow members and citizens to learn more about conservation in scenic New Canaan and along the majestic Hudson River. Refreshments will be served.

Art Berry
President

Stone Wall Mystery Solved

> Observant NCLT'ers may have noticed a section of the beautiful stone wall bordering the Route 123/Canoe Hill field had ~ a 4 - 6 foot section collapse recently. Cause unknown, possibly the result of a car accident or simply the natural history of dry walls in New England. I had made plans for Greg Faillaci , mason, to rebuild that section along with light repairs along the entire wall which is required to address the normal wear and tear related to ground movement with the freeze/ thaw cycle, deer rubbing the wall and more.
>
> I was caught off guard last week to find the job done before I had a chance to finalize a price with Greg. In investigated with the mystery solved as I learned Mike and Chris took the initiative to rebuild the wall. Greg Faillaci, stone mason extraordinaire, has some serious competition.
>
> I challenge NCLT'er to tell where the work was done. It will now take an incredibly observant NCLT'er to find the rebuilt section.
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> Nice job Mike and Chris.
>
> HGK

SLOBs at Symington

Dear NCLT'ers,
>
> Although a new school year is well underway some things remain the same. The SLOBs under the guidance of the Newtons put in a very effective morning at Symington. We even had a SLOB's dad, Brayson Dresser show up to help without his son who happened to be taking the PSATs .
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> Our group was smaller than what we have seen in the past which must have meant everyone worked harder since we accomplished nearly all we set out to do.
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> Mr. Dresser spearheaded the drive to devine the northwest quadrant of the property while the Newton's cleared undergrowth and an unsightly collection of random logs by the Wellesley entrance that detracted from the charm of the entrance.
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> We then regrouped and were up to full force with our SLOBs team. We proceeded to tackle the unthinkable as we ventured into the dried pond bed ( Only possible once in five years) and hauled, rolled and shoved decades of tree debris from the pond bed.
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> We were ready to call it a morning when we had a huge surprise! The NCLT former President, Chris Schipper, showed up in clothes, totally unsuitable for work. Tweed jacket, pressed pants and a cute hat. Second surprise was he took off his tweed jacket and worked along with the guys but he still left the hat on ( hence no photos to spare NCLT embarrassment). I guess that spirit is why he was selected by Art Potts as the President.
>
> With the critical mass we now had we took down a tree precariously leaning trail side using a combination of force and finesse.
>
> We also did some casual planning on means to address the trail erosion. Based on schedules that may be tackled at the next SLOBs day on Saturday, November 12th. Mark the date as all will be welcome then as well.
>
> Over the horizon we will need to consider means to address the roadside parking and erosion at the Wellesley entrance. Our success at Symington has created an overuse problem with both parking and roadside erosion. We will need Town help on this but should start talking about solutions.
>
> HGK

New Canaan Advertiser Article on Land Trust and Trust for Public Land Partnering to Acquire the Fowler Parcel

Land Trust joins forces to conserve Fowler parcel

 

The New Canaan Land Trust has joined forces with the Trust for Public Land in a capital campaign to raise $1.3 million to acquire the 6.35 acre Jim Fowler parcel off of Silvermine Road.

The land will be a significant addition to the Land Trust's adjoining 41-acre Hicks Meadows – Kelley Uplands Audubon Sanctuary. It will forever protect the Still Pond which hosts abundant wildlife, including important birds such as the Eastern Wood Peewee, Red-eyed Vireo and Northern Flicker. The acquisition protects a migratory bird route with diverse habitats including meadows, woodlands, wetlands and a pond.

Bill Buchanan, New Canaan resident and board member of the Connecticut Trust for Public Land said, "Preserving this land from development will create a vital accessway to public land in an area of town that lacks it, the Silvermine neighborhood. The Fowler parcel will become an entry point to a 41-acre Nature Preserve, benefitting residents who will be more easily able to enjoy nature and outdoor passive recreation close to their homes." Art Berry, president of the New Canaan Land Trust, is chair of the Silvermine – Fowler Capital Campaign.  "Adding these 6.35-acres to the Land Trust's existing Hicks Meadows- Kelley Audubon Sanctuary is the key strategic focus for our organization this year," he said.

Members of the Silvermine Fowler Preserve Capital Campaign Committee are Berry, Buchanan, Lori Fernand, Robin Fryer, Mike Johnson, Carolyn O'Brien, Gina Podlesak, Chris Schipper and Alicia Sullivan.

The Trust for Public Land secured an option to purchase the land from Jim Fowler, renowned naturalist of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom fame, who has generously allowed both organizations time to fundraise for the property. Jim and Betsey Fowler lived at their Silvermine home beginning in the 1980s until recently. Jim is known for his longstanding work as a spokesperson for preserving the natural world and wildlife around us.

The Capital Campaign Committee must raise $1.3 million by this fall to preserve the land. With financial commitments from the organizations' respective boards in hand, the Committee seeks wider public support from Silvermine neighborhood and the New Canaan community to ensure that this opportunity to preserve a natural area in town is not lost. A funding application to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program was submitted earlier this year by the New Canaan Land Trust in partnership with The Trust for Public Land. An announcement regarding the grant is expected later this fall.

Capital Campaign committee member Schipper said "If, as expected, we are able to win an award of state funds, we'll be halfway toward our goal. We hope that the New Canaan and Silvermine communities join us to help make the preservation of the Fowler land and Still Pond a success for all of us to enjoy. It will be a bargain purchase, conserving an important bird sanctuary and providing a great recreational resource to the Silvermine District."

Persons or organizations interested in supporting this effort should contact either Berry at NewCanaanlandTrust@gmail.com or Sullivan at Alicia.Sullivan@tpl.org.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly 10 million people live within a one-half mile walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

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The New Canaan Land Trust has joined forces with the Trust for Public Land in a capital campaign to raise $1.3 million to acquire the 6.35 acre Jim Fowler parcel off of Silvermine Road.Seated: Jim and Betsey Fowler. Standing are Bill Buchanan, left, TPL Connecticut Board, Mike Johnson, NCLT executive director, Alicia Sullivan, TPL Connecticut state director, Art Berry - NCLT president, and Derrek Metz - Fowler neighbor. — Chris Schipper photo

The New Canaan Land Trust has joined forces to conserve the 6.35 acre Jim Fowler parcel off of Silvermine Road. Seated: Jim and Betsey Fowler. Standing are Bill Buchanan, left, TPL Connecticut Board, Mike Johnson, NCLT executive director, Alicia Sullivan, TPL Connecticut state director, Art Berry – NCLT president, and Derrek Metz – Fowler neighbor. — Chris Schipper photo


Grey Heron on Laurel

Across from the former Audubon parcels on Laurel Road...this lovely, statuesque creature was on the lookout for a tasty snack. Happy Fall Equinox to all. Chris

Black Birch Leaves are falling on Browne

A nice first, light blanket of black birch yellow leaves on the Browne Trails. Fall is in the air....Best, Chris