On January 8, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont announced the award of $9.1 million to 24 communities toward the purchase of 2,466 acres of open space land. The grant program, authorized under the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program, is administered by the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and enables local governments, private land trusts, and water companies to purchase land to protect open space, wildlife habitats, drinking water supplies, and provide recreational opportunities to the public.
Despite last year’s very competitive grant round, Avalonia was awarded a total of $2,448,000 to protect two properties in southeastern Connecticut: $2,340,000 for the Bond Property, 669 acres located in Montville; and $108,000 to help purchase the 99.82-acre Maynard Farm in Ledyard, which abuts Avalonia’s Avery Preserve at 32 Avery Hill Road.
The acquisition of the Maynard property will nearly double the size of Avery Preserve and will add 1.37 miles of trails, which will link to the trails on Avery. The site will also add to a proposed greenway/wildlife corridor in Ledyard. Protection of this property will further protect drinking water for the Preston, Ledyard, and Groton areas by preserving mixed hardwood forests, a rare acidic Atlantic white cedar grove and a red maple swamp. Both properties connect with Avery-Billings Brook, which eventually leads to Morgan Reservoir.
The Bond property functioned as a sand and gravel quarry in the past. Today the land is in multiple stages of forest regrowth, which promotes a welcome diversity of habitats for local flora and fauna. The flooded quarries provide opportunities for fishing and paddling. Latimer Brook runs along the property’s western boundary and is stocked with trout. The property’s size allows for excellent birding and hiking. These recreational activities are accessible via dirt roads to designated parking areas. Because the property abuts Barnes Reservoir and Bogue Brook Reservoir, it further protects New London’s public water supply. Thirty acres of the property are used to grow feed hay, which Avalonia will continue to allow. Although the closing on this property could take time—it is not uncommon for property closings to take several years—the wait will be well worth it.