It's About the Land 10-9-2016

Published in the Totoket Times, 10-21-2016

October 9, 2016

North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated

It’s About the Land

What is it about open space which generates a passion among a few in this town to save it?  For one thing it isn’t covered with parking lots, pavement, buildings, lawns, and other features of ‘developed’ property. We think of open space as forest land, open fields, or farmland. Much of the undeveloped land in town is forested open space in a variety of forms. It is land which isn’t protected by law or conservation easements, meaning that it could be developed in the future. It has trees large and small, shrubs, seedlings and perennial vegetation such as wild flowers in the understory. Parts of it may be wetland (swamp), and a stream may run through it. It’s a place where birds, deer, wild turkey, other mammals, maybe bear, and where cold blooded creatures such as snakes, turtles, and salamanders in vernal pools make their home.  There are places where high, near vertical craggy ledges of fern-covered rock formations rise up from the ground; and other places which are steeply sloping with deep ravines and where water tumbles over boulders after a storm. There is also a promontory with a view of the Farm River valley. And if it is summer and an outbreak of gypsy moth is stripping trees bare, a walk through the woods can be an unpleasant experience. Invasive plants and shrubs, some bearing sharp thorns planted for landscaping and escaped into the forest, may also add to the unpleasant experience. So if open space doesn’t have the features of beautifully landscaped property, what’s the attraction?

Not all of our members are “tree huggers” yet they see the preservation and protection of open space as an important component of public policy. Saving open space is good for an urbanizing society which needs clean air, clean water, buffers between residential and commercial/industrial areas, flood protection, places for passive recreation where it’s possible to enjoy the natural world on a hiking trail, or fishing in a tree-shaded stream. These features of open space, we’ve come to realize, contribute to good physical and mental well-being. A walk in the woods either alone or socially with a group can be time well spent.

Your land trust advocates on behalf of open space. We’d like to save as much of the remaining undeveloped acreage in town as is prudent especially at locations where subdivision of the land would create new problems for the town. We think that hiking and fishing are great, healthy pastimes and that a program of land acquisition should be undertaken with this in mind. But moving forward on projects like these is daunting. It will require the talents and perseverance of many.

The land trust can’t do it alone. We don’t have the resources. We need public and private partners, experienced grant writers, people with good digital information and mapping skills, and good communicators for fund raising and finding partners. To find out more about what we are proposing to do, come to NBLCT’s next meeting Wednesday November 2, at 7:00 pm, at the Atwater Library Community Room.

Sincerely,

Otto Schaefer, Secretary
North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated