Last month Governor Ned Lamont announced that his administration was releasing $7.29 million in state funds to purchase and protect 1,013 acres of open space in 17 Connecticut communities, and $276,200 to restore and renew green spaces in 6 urban areas.
The funds are provided through the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program and the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program, which are both administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“Connecticut’s preservation of open space has helped define its landscape and preserve its important natural resources and natural beauty and is one of the main things that makes this state such a great place to call home,” Governor Lamont said. “These grants continue our open space preservation legacy and will increase the availability and quality of open space for all residents across our state, whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area.” Since the open space program began in 1998, more than $150 million in state funding has been awarded to preserve and protect more than 41,000 acres of land.
The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program assists local governments, land trusts, and water companies in purchasing open space using funding from the Community Investment Act and state bond funds. This grant program requires a match by the grant recipient and requires the open space land be protected by a conservation and public recreation easement, ensuring that the property is forever protected for public use and enjoyment.
Of the 21 new protected sites, six list fishing as one of the activities visitors may enjoy on the property. The Glemboski-Ous Property in Bozrah is a 160-acre plot with access to Trading Cove Brook, which is listed as a Class A stream and cold-water habitat with gravel aquifers. The stream comprises a large portion of the boundary between this property and The Nature Conservancy’s 338-acre Milo Light Preserve. This acquisition extends a conservation corridor creating a nearly 500-acre contiguous block of preserved forest in a prime cold-water stream corridor.
The Meshomasic’s Rattlesnake Brook Preserve is a nearly 150-acre parcel which straddles the border between Portland and East Hampton and offers angler access to another cold water stream, Rattlesnake Brook. The Birch Branch Meadow Preserve in Madison at 836 Green Hill Road is a critical link between two Madison Land Conservation Trust parcels, a 61-acre parcel to the north and a 20-acre parcel to the south, creating a contiguous 111-acre preserve on the Hammonasset River and adding nearly 4,000 linear feet of additional river frontage.
The Hammonasset River is one of Connecticut’s premier cold water fish habitats, a well-known and productive recreational fishing resource. The Belter-Wack Forest project in Salisbury is a 50-acre parcel that includes the ridgeline summit of Red Mountain. There are streams, steep slopes with bedrock exposures and boulders and two high gradient wooded tributary streams that drain to the Salmon Kill, a major tributary of the Housatonic River. The Williams Road Rear project in Wallingford is a 95 acre purchase that will offer parking and a loop trail off of Williams Road with fishing access to Muddy River which supports a native brook trout population.
Last up is a 60-acre piece in Winchester, known as the Rosgen Property. This preserve will offer convenient access to Rugg Brook which is home to many species of fish—parking will be located off of Old Waterbury Turnpike.