It's About the Land 11-03-2016

Published in the Totoket Times, 11-18-2016

November 3, 2016

North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated

It’s About the Land

I confess. I’m an analog man. I enjoyed drawing features of the landscape on maps to show contours, water courses, wetlands, soil types, forest types, high rock ledges, and other distinctive features of the land. Maps of this nature were hand-drawn and based entirely on field surveys.  However, preparing maps with this kind of information was very labor intensive, and time consuming. Now, technology has made it possible to produce detailed maps generated through the use of very high resolution cameras mounted in planes and land sensing instruments in satellites orbiting the earth. But that doesn’t solve the problem of locating parcel boundaries, town lines, and trails. These cannot be seen from a photograph and/or outer space.  Survey crews must locate them on the ground.  With specialized instruments which can communicate with satellites, a point on the ground can be given a precise digital location. Even a smart phone can be used to locate a trail or a property corner, less accurately than a professional survey, but with adequate accuracy for the need. So what does this have to do with a land trust?

Maps are essential to our understanding of the earth we all share. As a land trust we rely on digitized information to identify and make plans for saving land with natural features we think should be permanently conserved (including farmland and historic sites) for public benefit. Imagine if the only information we had available to make important land use decisions were vague property descriptions of the past, a rough estimate of acreage, and no map to show parcel locations, environmental features and proximity to other parcels with similar qualities. 

A few NBLCT members have mastered the use of mapping software to make maps for planning purposes.  Mapping helps us see where our parcels are in relation to other open space such as town-owned land, RWA and other privately-owned property.  Discovering ‘connections’ among each of the land ownerships will be useful in identifying locations for future foot-paths, scenic vistas, access to fishable streams and protection of water quality. We’ve already identified larger tracts of land which we think should be protected as open space; some because they have outstanding scenic ridge lines, others because they would connect existing NBLCT parcels with open space in Guilford, Wallingford, and other smaller parcels which would complement existing historic districts and/or preserve farmland.  That is the type of land we want to identify and assign a priority for acquisition.

Here are upcoming NBLCT events. 

Entries to the annual NBLCT Art Contest will be displayed at the Atwater Memorial Library on Sunday afternoon, 1-3:00, December 4.  Winners will be announced and awarded prizes at a ceremony to be held that afternoon.

NBLCT director Geoff Smith will lead a hike on woodland trails at Evergreen Woods retirement community. Meet 9:45 am at the visitor parking lot on Saturday, December 17. The hike should be over by 12:00 noon.  Rain postpones the hike to Sunday December 18.

Become a member! Check us out on our website, NBLandTrust.org; Facebook; and via E-mail, Info@NBLandTrust.org. Our surface mail address is NBLCT, PO Box 378, North Branford, CT 06471.

Otto Schaefer, Secretary
North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated