photo © Bruce Fellman

photo © Bruce Fellman

 

our history & plan


The Stonington Land Trust (SLT) seeks to preserve open space in the town of Stonington, Connecticut. We are a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which was incorporated in 2007. As of December 30, 2016, we have preserved a combined 495.40-acres of land in the Anguilla Brook and Pawcatuck River watersheds.


Land Acquisitions to Date

ANGUILLA-GRANDE PRESERVE

Anguilla-Grande Preserve is a 51.64-acre parcel, which includes 33.1-acres on North Anguilla Road, given to us by the Town of Stonington, and 18.54-adjacent-acres, which we purchased from the estate of Carl Grande.  These two parcels, together, are called the Anguilla-Grande Preserve.
 

FUSINA CONSERVATION EASEMENT

Fusina Conservation Easement is a 148.3-acre easement, which is located on the Fusina property. This parcel of preserved land runs from Pequot Trail to Route 1. The easement was donated to the Land Trust by the Fusina family.
 

GRANDVIEW PRESERVE 

Grandview Preserve, located on Grandview Farm Drive, is a 27.93-acre, open space parcel, which was created as part of the Grandview Farm subdivision.  This preserve is home to beautiful wildflowers; there are two ponds, a small stream and stone walls. This land was donated by the Pequot Development Associates.
 

THOMAS MINER NATURE AND WILDLIFE PRESERVE

Thomas Miner Nature Preserve & Wildlife Sanctuary is 82.61-acres of farm and forest land, which is completely surrounded by stone walls, with interior walls, as well.  The woodlands shelter vernal pools, while the hay fields have proved to be very productive nesting sites for bobolinks and other ground-nesting birds.  A 4-year long New England Cottontail habitat restoration project is in progress, on this preserve.   It is located in the uplands of Stonington, on Taugwonk Road.
 

MEADOW WOODS PRESERVE

Meadow Woods Preserve, located on Meadow Road, is 19.81-acres of primarily wooded land with stone walls, a small pond and 2-acres of land, which are farmed by Eugene & Nancy Bessette, of Shady Lane Farm. This land was donated by the Richard C. Panciera Charitable Remainder Trust II.
 

GILBERT PRESERVE 

Gilbert Preserve is a 3.19-acre parcel of land on Osbrook Point Road, which has important historical significance.  The land was formerly owned by Edward S. Moore, Marion Gilbert’s father.  The land was donated by Marion Gilbert & family.
 

RICKER PRESERVE

Ricker Preserve, is a .81-acre parcel of wooded land, with 180-feet of frontage along Anguilla Brook.  It was donated by Judith L. Keith, Robin A. Ricker and Alan Ricker; heirs of the Gladys P. Ricker estate.  It is located on Pequot Trail, across from Bill’s Tractor Service.  Fishing is allowed, in season, dawn to dusk.
 

For further details, please click on the name of the preserve.
 

THE DAVIS FARM, osbrook point easements

The Davis Farm, Osbrook Point Conservation Easements are comprised of 46-acres of historically significant land, along the Lower Pawcatuck River.  This land has played an important role in both Colonial and Native American history.  These parcels have been protected in perpetuity, by the generous donors, who wholeheartedly supported the Land Trust’s Davis Farm Campaign.  We sincerely thank you for your support.  We could not have done it without YOU!
 

THE STONINGTON LAND TRUST CLOSES ON OSBROOK POINT PROPERTY    SEPTEMBER 15, 2016

The Stonington Land Trust and the Trustees of the John Whitman Davis Trust are pleased to announce the closing on two separate conservation easements, on the Osbrook Point section, of the Davis Farm.  This historically significant property is part of the Stanton-Davis Farm, which has been in continuous operation by the same family, since 1654.  This 46-acre, portion of the farm is located along the Pawcatuck River estuary, and boasts more than six-tenths of a mile of saltwater river frontage. 

Both Larry Davis and his father ‘Whit’ Davis, who passed away a few months prior to this closing, have dedicated their lives to farming and preserving this historic property.  The Stonington Land Trust greatly appreciates being the organization, chosen by The John Whitman Davis Trustees, to be the one to hold the conservation easements, on this treasured property. 

Larry Davis, John Whitman Davis Trustee comments, “We are grateful to the Stonington Land Trust for their diligent effort and commitment to bringing this project to a successful conclusion.”

The Stonington Land Trust & The John Whitman Davis Trust
September 15, 2016
 

CLOSING ON GREENHAVEN ROAD PROPERTY COMPLETES HISTORIC PRESERVATION GOAL    december 30, 2016  

The, Stonington Land Trust’s, Stanton-Davis Farm Preservation Project has come to a successful conclusion.  It has been an exciting and challenging project!  We would like to express our deep appreciation to each and every one of our partners, supporters and donors.  Because of your support, we have successfully closed on all 4 conservation easements; two on the Osbrook Point section of the farm and two easements up on the Greenhaven Road section.

Because of your generosity, we have been able to preserve, for all generations to come, the last remaining unprotected acreage of this historic, 1654 farm.  During the process we have met many new folks, who have become friends.  It has been a pleasure to come to know those who share a love of history and preservation, the way we do. 

Also, we thank our late friend, ‘Whit’ Davis, and his son Larry for their lifelong, steadfast commitment to preservation and to farming.  The Stonington Land Trust greatly appreciates being the organization chosen, by the John Whitman Davis Trustees, to be the one to hold these treasured conservation easements.   

The Osbrook Point conservation easements, 46-acres, closed on September 15, 2016.  The Greenhaven Road easements, 115.74-acres, followed on December 30, 2016.

Thank You!  We could not have done it without all of you!

 

Meet Our Board Members 

Stuart G. Cole, President

George Crouse, Vice president

Bertrand F. Bell, III, Treasurer 

William H. Lyman, Jr., Secretary                                              

Daniel Booker                                                  

Richard Gildersleeve

Camilla Rees

Polly Spring  

Robert Tabor 

 

Executive Director  

Stanton W. Simm                            

 

Affiliates & Partners

We seek to work with other organizations which share our objectives; Avalonia Land Conservancy, the Stonington Garden Club, Groton Open Space Association and the North Stonington Citizen’s Land Alliance.  We also work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Office of State Archaeology – Connecticut Archaeology Center, Save The Bay, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) and The Nature Conservancy.  We are members of the Land Trust Alliance.

 

Our Full Mission

Our land acquisition criteria are centered on four subjects:

  • Streambelts
  • Farmland and Woodland
  • Historic Sites and Stone Walls
  • Iconic Locations
     

Streambelts

Some towns are defined by their roads, location on interstate highways or proximity to mountains. Stonington is defined by water.  To the south we have the marshes of Barn Island, the fishing fleet docks in Stonington Harbor and the small islands off Mystic. The western boundary of the town is the Mystic River and on the east is the Pawcatuck River. Between these rivers, running north to south are Copps Brook, Stony Brook and the Anguilla Brook watersheds. The Nature Conservancy describes Stonington as “a unique cluster of little rivers”.

The watercourses of these rivers, combined with their associated wetlands and uplands, are called streambelts. These primary streambelts, along with Pequotsepos Brook, Donahue Brook and Barn Island, cover nearly 5,000 acres and are approximately 20 percent of the land area of Stonington.

Stonington’s streambelts provide both drinking water and drainage, wildlife corridors and are logical greenbelts that divide the town roughly into quarters.  Native Americans knew the importance of these corridors as evidenced by the many archeological sites found along these streams. 

Sarting in 1649, the earliest European settlers also gravitated to the streambelts. Thomas Miner to Quiambaug Cove, the saltwater mouth of Copps Brook, William Chesebrough to Anguilla Brook near Wequetequock Cove, and Thomas Stanton to the lower Pawcatuck River. The oldest standing structure in Stonington is the dam at Wequetequock, built across Anguilla Brook at the head of Wequetequock Cove, by members of Stonington’s first four families in 1654-5. The waters held back by this dam powered the first gristmill in town.
 

Farmland & Woodlands

Each year Connecticut loses 9,000 acres of farmland to development. When measured by percent of farmland lost, Connecticut loses more farmland than any other state. New London County loses a greater percent of farmland than any other county in the State.

Farmland is graded by soil quality, drainage and other factors. All of our streambelts include some prime farmland. Some of Stonington's largest expanses of woodland lie along streambelts.  Some wildlife species need upward of 50 acres of unfragmented forest for their survival.
 

Historic Sites & Stone Walls

Some man-made structures enhance and become part of the natural landscape. As any Stonington gardener knows, the town is well named; it might also be named for the numerous stone walls that cross the land.

Wallace Nutting, whose early tinted photographs could be found on the walls of many New England homes a century ago, describes Stonington’s walls in his 1907 book "Connecticut Beautiful"“The region about Mystic is alluring, owing to its numerous little walled-in fields which look like play farms. They give an aspect of solidity to a homestead. Probably there is no region in America that affords so much of this particular charm as that in the vicinity of Stonington…”

SLT values archeological and historic sites as well. South and southwest-facing ledge outcroppings, flat dry areas along streams and colonial era cellar holes are potential sites for future archeological exploration.
 

Iconic Locations

Certain locations in town bring to mind quintessential New England or Stonington scenes. Such sites as the Hoxsie Farm on the Pawcatuck River, Barn Island, Wequetequock Cove, and Quiambog Cove are some examples.

One of SLT's objectives is to identify and preserve these often fragile areas. Some of the hard work has been done; Barn Island, Fenner Woods, Paffard Woods and the Crowley property on Palmer Neck Road, but much remains to be done.

The town of Stonington is comprised of about 25,000 acres of land. Only 10 to 15 percent of that land has been preserved to date. SLT believes preservation activity over the next 10 years is critical in maintaining the character of Stonington.

We do not have mighty rivers, mountains or vast canyons, but as Henry David Thoreau stated in his book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” … “I shall never find in the wilds of Labrador any greater wilderness than in some recesses in Concord.”

 

 
Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson