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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