Dutka Nature Preserve Clean-Up

The Dutka Nature Preserve, located in Griswold on Bethel Road, is one of Avalonia’s most recent open-space acquisitions. The original Dutka Family Preserve was expanded from 17 acres to 79 acres with the 2018 acquisition of 62-plus acres of additional upland forest, fresh-water wetlands and, most exciting, access to Pachaug Pond for passive water recreation. This acquisition was made possible by the Dutka family’s generous bargain-sale terms, a grant from the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Open Space Watershed Land Acquisition program, numerous private foundation grants, and the generosity of Avalonia members and donors.

With every new property acquisition there is a unique set of challenges, including writing and implementing a management plan and posting the boundaries of the expanded preserve. These tasks were expected and completed in a timely manner, but what to do with the collection of discarded vehicles, farm equipment and even a boat at the Bethel Road/Dutka Lane entrance to the preserve?

To the rescue came Courtney Holmwood and Calamari Recycling, Inc. Dick Conant and Dennis Main met with Courtney on-site to tour the targeted clean-up area and Calamari arranged to pick up an International Harvester truck with a flat-bed wrecker last October while also dropping off a 30 cubic yard roll-off dumpster for loading the rest of the scrap metal. A determined team consisting of Dick, Dennis, and David Stygar joined with Tom Dutka and his 1958 Dutka farm tractor to wrestle the junk into the roll-off. The roll-off was soon filled up minus the rusty 1950’s vintage Studebaker. Courtney dispatched the Calamari team to pick up the roll-off and scoop up the Studebaker with the flatbed truck. All in all, more than four tons of scrap metal was taken off the site and Avalonia actually realized a net $ gain for the project. Many thanks to Courtney and Calamari Recycling.

Next steps: Dick has completed an entrance sign, which he assures looks marvelous! Come spring, the remaining non-ferrous debris will be removed and the former dump site spruced up to provide off-road parking for access to the site. Dick will also meet with the Stewardship and Griswold Town Committees to discuss the creation of a low-impact hiking trail through the preserve starting from the entrance sign and parking area. The Griswold Town Committee plans an official “ribbon-cutting” ceremony and entrance sign raising for the public in the spring. Stay tuned for details.