To celebrate Earth Day, several youth volunteers from the Middletown VoAg School helped out at MLT’s newest preserve, Shailer Ledges, in the Maromas section in Middletown. Fifteen young folks and two teachers descended on the preserve early in the day and cleared a large pile of debris from the woods. This tremendous effort by the kids is part of preparing the new preserve for marking, mapping and trail building to make the preserve ready for passive recreation. They were all terrific, and the Land Trust would like to thank Teacher Courtney Johnson and her team for a job well done. THANK YOU!
That's all, folks!
The Middlesex Land Trust has recently acquired a rather unique property located in the Maromas section of Middletown. Comprising 22 +/- acres, the property is characterized by steep outcrops and ledges enclosing deep ravines. The donors wish to remain anonymous, so MLT has gone back in time to find a suitable name for the property. Land records research revealed that the parcel was historically known as the “Shailer Tract”, named for an early 19th-century owner. Combining this reference with a physical description, MLT has named the property the “Shailer Ledges Preserve”.
The property is bounded westerly by Maromas Road, southerly by Aircraft Road, easterly by land of Pratt & Whitney (the jet engine plant) and northerly by CL&P powerlines. Best access to the property is made from an old highway (part of the original River Road) that climbs easterly from the southerly terminus of Maromas Road to a steep ridge on the southeasterly boundaries. The ridge provides a sporting scramble, but an easier approach follows another old road into the central ravine. Steep and bold ledges overlook the ravine and provide more scrambling opportunities for adventurous visitors. A loop trail will be established that will lead hikers up and over the top of the ledges along the northerly boundary. The trail will be blazed and mapped and ready for travel by late spring or early summer 2013.
This part of Middletown was formerly occupied to a much greater extent than it is today, as evidenced by the Maromas Cemetery opposite the Preserve on the south side of Aircraft Road. The poignant epitaphs on many of the gravestones harken back to an earlier time, when many lives were cut short by disease and preparation for the afterlife was a primary concern. Prior to the colonial era, the riverbanks and hillsides were home to bands of Wangunk Indians, and the central ravine may have been occupied by native wigwams and hogans. The evidence is circumstantial, but the topography resembles locales in Portland and on Haddam Neck where deep-sided ravines provided secure flanks and an easily defensible front, where the historical record notes that small groups of Wangunks made their last resorts up to the end of the 18th century. An overhanging rock shelter on the westerly flank of the ledges contains an ancient hearth, and seems likely to have been occupied in pre-contact times as a hunting camp.
In September of 2012, Clearwater Paper of Spokane, Washington, presented the Middlesex Land Trust with a $1,500.00 charitable contribution to help provide for a necessary technology upgrade. Clearwater’s financial support was awarded to MLT for the purchase of a new computer and GPS tracking equipment required to help implement the trust’s new Preserve Mapping Project.
The Middlesex Land Trust would like to express our greatest appreciation and thanks to Clearwater Paper, and to Mr. Christopher Fiedler, the General Manager of Clearwater’s Consumer Products Division, for their financial support of the trust’s mission and the environment.
Chris Fiedler of Clearwater Paper gives donation to Stuart Winquist & David Brown of MLT
In the past year the Middlesex Land Trust has preserved four new parcels of land for the passive recreation and enjoyment of present and future generations. These preserves, totaling over 90 acres combined, are located in Middletown (56 acres), Portland (27 acres) and East Hampton (8 acres).
Two of the preserves are east of the CT River: the Cedar Meadows Preserve is on Penfield Hill Road in Portland, and Union Hill the new East Hampton preserve is just down Rt 156 from the Rt 66 intersection in Cobalt. We hope you will check them out as we build trails and work to improve them for use over the next few seasons.
The two preserves in Middletown are at opposite ends of town – about as far apart as can be and still be in Middletown. These include the Boardman Preserve to the North, which this year was expanded by 34 acres (for a total of 88 acres), and a 22 acre parcel in the Maromas region – our first preserve in that far southeastern area of Middletown – called Shailer Ledges! There will be more on Maromas in our future, so keep an eye out to learn more about the new Shailer Ledges Preserve and the area called “Middletown’s Last Great Place”.
The Middlesex Land Trust held it’s 25th Annual Meeting this past April at its Barn at the Palmer Preserve in Portland, and it was a great success! It was a beautiful day and over 50 people came to the meeting making it the largest attendance at an MLT Annual Meeting ever. Life long members and new members alike gathered for treats, a speech or two, a wildlife presentation and a walk on the Palmer Preserve.
Mr. Barry Parish of the US Fish and Wildlife Service was the featured speaker for the event. Mr. Parrish is the Wildlife Refuge Manager for the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge which covers the Connecticut River Watershed, and he spoke about the wildlife of the lower Connecticut River Valley and the Salmon River Division of the Conte Refuge.
The surprise of the day came with the arrival of one of our champions at the Connecticut State Legislature, Representative Matt Lesser, who came baring a Legislative Citation recognizing MLT’s 25 years conserving open space in Middlesex County.
The day was warm and sunny, the business meeting was short, the speeches concise, the presentation fascinating, the company engaging, the treats were tasty, and the flowers in the woods were in bloom!
I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all!
Matt Lesser giving CT Citation to MLT at 25th Annual Meeting
CT General Assembly Citation recognizing MLT for 25 years of protecting open space
The Middlesex Land Trust held a tag sale at the Palmer Barn as part of Portland’s Annual Town Wide Tag Sale Event May 12th, and it was a terrific success. The funds raised will help the continue the maintenance and repair of the historic barn at MLT’s Palmer Preserve located on Middle Haddam Road.
Among the hundreds of items donated and sold were several pairs of snowshoes, lots of kids toys, tools old and new, furnature and knickknacks, antiques, useful materials, and lots and lots of cool stuff! Most tagsaler’s managed to bargain for some great deals, and not just the early birds as donations came in for the sale throughout the day!
It seems a good time was had by all.
We were also treated to a visit by Mr. Mclean who had spent a portion of his youth milking cows in that very barn! He was able to tell us all about the original layout of the barn, and of buildings and fields that no longer exist on the property. Walking around the barn with Mr. Mclean, we were able to get some answers to some questions that had long puzzled us. It was a wonderful history lesson that might have been lost had he not happened by the sale!
The day was a great success! Our sincere thanks go out to the many donors and volunteers who contributed to the wonderful success of the effort.
The Middlesex Land Trust is pleased to announce the addition of 32 acres of open space to expand the Boardman Preserve in Middletown, thanks to the generous donation of land by Middle Boardman Associates, LLC.
In 2010, in collaboration with the U.S. Army, the Middlesex Land Trust purchased 54 acres of the former farm on Boardman Lane in Middletown creating the Boardman Preserve. The Army provided the funding for the purchase of the open space and is managing a wetlands restoration project on the land as mitigation for the loss of habitat destroyed by the development of a new Army base built on another property.
This year the owner of the initial parcel that was sold, Middle Boardman Associates, LLC lead by Pedro Wasmer, has kindly donated the remaining portion of the Boardman Lane parcel to the Middlesex Land Trust. This additional open space substantially increases the size of the Boardman Preserve and will provide added protection for the Sawmill Brook watershed.
With this newest parcel the Boardman Preserve now includes both sides of Sawmill and Richards Brooks, creating a significantly larger preserve. In addition to the streams, riparian and wetland areas, this donation includes a 5 acre trade-land site, a parcel of land donated with the intent to support the land trust mission through its lease or sale, rather than as conserved property. While the Middlesex Land Trust has no plans to sell the trade-land, it may be used in the future to help fund the protection of additional critically important open space.
We thank Mr. Pedro Wasmer and Middle Boardman Associates, LLC for their wonderful support of the Land Trust. As a community we all benefit from their generosity.
November 9, 2011 marked a first for the Middlesex Land Trust in its 24 year history – we closed on a property, but we didn’t buy it. We sold it!
The Pine Brook Falls Preserve now has a new home with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of the expanding Salmon River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. This helps both the Middlesex Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy to free up funding for additional conservation work, while also ensuring continued
protection of this property for future generations. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) first approached the Land Trust on partnering with them to purchase Pine Brook Falls in the fall of 2002, with our purchase
from TNC occurring in 2007 a few years after they bought the property. TNC retained a conservation easement on the property at that time. This sale to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues
the momentum in the Refuge. It is the second parcel added to the Salmon River Division of the Refuge, joining the 290 acre Johnson parcel that USF&W purchased in 2009 from The Nature Conservancy and the Town of Haddam. Consolidating parcels under Fish & Wildlife will allow for more comprehensive professional management of the area in support of specific conservation goals. Already this summer, an assessment of invasive plant species was conducted by a team of specialists. Our donors can be proud of their role in the Middlesex Land Trust’s participation in this collaboration,
and in other efforts in the Pine Brook corridor where we still hold over one hundred acres in the Kruger Farm , the Pine Brook Markham, and Pine Brook (Chestnut Hill Rd) Preserves. With your continued
support we look forward to more successes along Pine Brook.
The final step in the Middletown Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) wetlands compensation mitigation process took place December 16, 2010 when the Middlesex Land Trust (MLT) purchased 53.8 acres on Boardman Lane through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program.
This property was set aside as an off-site compensatory mitigation requirement under the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Permit No. NAE-2008-2372. The mitigation at Boardman Lane compensates for the direct loss of about 1.5 acres of jurisdictional wetlands associated with the construction and operation of the Middletown AFRC. As the Armyís ACUB partner for the Middletown mitigation, the Middlesex Land Trust received the deeded interest to the mitigation site on Boardman Lane directly from the landowner and will manage the land in perpetuity for conservation purposes that meet the missions of MLT and the Army. This includes providing long-term habitat management of the Boardman Lane property and providing for the terms of the permit to be met.
ìAfter an extensive search, we found a mitigation site on Boardman Lane. Ecologically, itís connected to Sawmill Brook, the tributary that also feeds the Middletown AFRC site,î said Diane McCartin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager. ìThere are wetlands on the site that have been degraded by animals grazing on them, and there are plenty of opportunities for controlling invasive species, planting native species to enhance the water quality, and preserving and protecting it as open space in perpetuity.î
The ACUB program allows the Army to reach out to partners to identify mutual objectives of conserving land, protecting habitat, and preventing development of critical open areas without acquiring new land for Army ownership. The program also allowed the Army to contribute funds toward the purchase of the property.
ìWe are extremely pleased to be able to partner with the community and the Middlesex Land Trust in particular to accomplish the purchase and management of this parcel that benefits regional conservation and serves the mission needs of the Armed Forces Reserves Center,î said Dr. Virginia Busby of the ACUB Program at the Army Environmental Command whose team coordinated the ACUB effort.
“The Middlesex Land Trust was pleased to have partnered with the Army to purchase, preserve and enhance the Boardman Lane property. This joint project will provide for the permanent protection of sensitive upland and wetland habitats in the Sawmill Brook watershed, as well as provide public access to a beautiful open landscape.
“It’s a great result for the community of Middletown, the watershed, the Land Trust and the Army,” said Land Trust managing director David Brown. “We are dedicated to the preservation of land for all to enjoy. Working in northern Middlesex County, we currently own and manage more than 800 acres.”
“This is a win-win for the residents of Middletown, the MLT, the landowner and the Army,” said Col. Keith Landry, USACE Louisville District commander. “This land will be preserved as open space in perpertuity and the quality of the wetlands will be enhanced through the Army’s mitigation activities.”
More than a year of effort on the part of the Land Trust and key partners has paid off with the purchase of Kruger Farm in Haddam Neck — a former dairy farm encompassing woodlands, a hayfield, wetlands and a feeder creek to Pine Brook.
The years-long project — a collaboration between the Land Trust, the Haddam Neck Spirit, the town of Haddam and the DEP — has created a 50-acre preserve near the confluence of the Salmon River and the Connecticut River. It is contiguous with the 289-acre Johnson Preserve, which fronts on both Pine Brook and the Salmon River and is held by the town of Haddam and The Nature Conservancy; this preserve is contiguous with the Haddam Land Trust’s 22-acre preserve on Pine Brook. It lies within one of two areas in Connecticut identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for additions to its Silvio O. Conte Refuge, which protects migratory fish and birds in the Connecticut River Watershed.