If the money can be had, this is a great environmental victory: The Trust for Public Land announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to buy and protect a stunning 1,000-acre tract along the shore called The Preserve — the last unprotected coastal forest between Boston and New York City.
The property, which includes vernal pools and springs, rock ledges, dense forest canopy, rare plants and many species of wildlife, connects to 500 acres of municipal parkland and miles of hiking trails.
For 15 years this pristine sward has been under threat of development. River Sound Development, a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers, proposed 220 homes and an 18-hole golf course. Stopping that development became a rallying point for residents, conservation groups and public officials, who battled to keep the land in its natural state. But until now, conservation efforts have failed.
This one has not yet succeeded. The Trust has an agreement to buy, but now it must raise the money. Officials say they have until June 2014 to raise what they expect, pending appraisal, to be $10 million to $11 million for the purchase. Their hope is that $8 million to $9 million will come from public sources, and that is not unreasonable. This magnificent parcel, located in Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, meets every qualification for public open-space acquisition.
It offers wildlife habitat, outdoor passive recreation, scenic vistas. Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds as they make their way to Long Island Sound. So protecting the land means that stormwater there is recharged to local aquifers or released into streams and tributaries, protecting downstream landowners from flooding.
Hopefully The Preserve's friends can seize the chance and seal the deal. As one official put it, preserving 1,000 acres of woodland in Connecticut is like saving Yellowstone National Park. Since opening its Connecticut office in 1986, the Trust for Public Land has helped preserve about 6,000 acres of farmland and other open space here. Keep up the good work.Copyright © 2015, CT Now