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UConn helps to preserve local forest

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08

A land conservation transaction between the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, Norcross Wildlife Foundation and UConn has guaranteed the conservation of 531 acres of land.

The land located in Willington and Mansfield is made up of four forested properties and contains three miles of blue-blazed hiking trails.

"This is truly a win for all parties," said Richard Miller director of environmental policy for UConn.

The conservation effort was started by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association using funds from the Hibbard Trust for Land and Trails. This fund was established in 2001 by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association to finance conservation of forestlands and blue-blazed hiking trails throughout Connecticut.

The Connecticut Forest and Park Association also used a no-interest loan from Norcross and an open space grant from the Connecticut Department of Environmental protection to procure the North Property from Willington.

The first property conserved was the North property, a 96-acre property in Willington on Mason Road consisting of mature hardwood forests and a scenic stretch of the Fenton River. The property was purchased by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in 2005 from the town of Willington, and then conveyed to UConn.

The Connecticut Forest and Park Association also used a no-interest loan from Norcross and an open space grant from the Connecticut Department of Environmental protection to procure the North Property from Willington.

The next tract of land protected is the Albert E. Moss Sanctuary located on the corner of South Eagleville Road and Route 195. Consisting of 135 acres of maturing oak forest, Tift Pond and well-established hiking trails, the sanctuary has been conveyed by UConn to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association who conveyed it to the Town of Mansfield.

The third and most interesting tract is the Moss Forest that consists of 300 acres in Willington adjoining the North Property. This forest has been designated a research forest by UConn and contains deciduous forest, the Fenton River and a significant tributary, Eldridge Brook. UConn has conveyed a 50-year historical conservation restriction over Moss Forest to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

The Fenton River is an important part of the conservation effort as pointed out by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation.

"Norcross recognizes and appreciates the outstanding fish and wildlife habitat that the Fenton River watershed has to offer," said Dan Donahue, Norcross's director of land protection and stewardship.

Among all of the deals between UConn, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and the towns of Willington and Mansfield is a permanent conveyance of three miles of blue-blazed trail within the North Property to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

The conveyance of the Nipmuck trail from UConn to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association is the largest single trail easement in Connecticut Forest and Park Association history.

"By granting CFPA an easement to the Nipmuck trail, which runs from the Moss tract through the Fenton Forest on our East Campus, we've ensured that one of the oldest and most highly-regarded conservation organizations in Connecticut will help protect and maintain this wonderful 3.5 mile section of blue-blazed trail," said Miller.

The Nipmuck trail is now open for passive public use.

All the parties involved with the conservation effort seem pleased with the outcome.

"I am ecstatic that this significant forest, trail and community conservation project has finally crossed the finish line, but in some ways our work is just beginning," said Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

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