It's About the Land 2-9-2015

It’s About the Land

The North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Inc.

After you ‘round the corner at Bill Miller’s Castle onto Notch Hill Road (Rt 22) and drive north just past Valley Road, you may have noticed a quiet stream flowing towards the highway. It flows over a sluice-like structure before disappearing through a culvert under the road where it eventually joins the Branford River southwest of Valley Road. Named after a notch in a nearby rocky ridge where Rt 22 passes, Notch Hill Brook flows the entire year, even when there has been a prolonged dry-spell.

Have you ever wondered about the brook’s source?  You might be surprised to learn that the source of the brook is in Guilford, about a mile away, east of residences on Ledgewood Drive and Hunter Hill Road. From Guilford the brook tumbles down a steep ridge into North Branford flowing through 119 acres of woodlands before it passes into NBLCT’s 25-acre ‘Notch Hill Brook’ property, then to town-owned land and on to the sluice.

The 119 acres between NBLCT’s property and the Guilford town line has qualities we want to conserve. This wilderness-like land, tucked away in the southeast corner of town, has at least one extended nearly vertical outcrop of ledge bedrock reaching more than 60-100 feet high from its base, a forest of oak and hickory trees, mixed hardwoods, a pond and the well-shaded stream perfect for brook trout.

Adjoining the 119-acre tract is NBLCT land through which the brook continues its westerly course. In recent years, NBLCT members marked the boundaries of this property with the round medallions you may have seen at other land trust locations. After the boundaries were marked, several of our members developed a trail with red blazes through the most scenic portions of the property. Crossing the brook at one of three locations was not a simple matter. Last year it was solved when a Boy Scout, Conner Gilbert, looking for a project to earn an Eagle Scout badge, planned, organized and constructed a unique bridge that would survive periodic flood flows of the brook.

After leaving NBLCT land, the brook continues on through a flood plain on town-owned property--a portion of which was the former town landfill before it was closed several decades ago. Bordering all this land on the north is a vestige of a former mode of public transportation, the New Haven and Shoreline Electric Railway right of way.  A visible corridor of the right of way extends east from the town-owned land to the Guilford Town line and beyond. With NBLCT’s parcel at its core, consolidating and conserving this group of parcels, some 160+ acres, would protect scenic geologic formations, forest, vital habitat for wildlife and fisheries, and a part of our town’s history. Saving this land will not be just for our passive enjoyment. Future generations will enjoy it as well. 

You can learn more about this and other properties and doings of NBLCT by joining us at our monthly meetings held at the Atwater Memorial Library, 7:00 pm, the first Wednesday of each month. You can also find us on Facebook.

For the land,

Otto Schaefer, Secretary
North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated