Nearly $6 million in state grant money is being given to 17 municipalities to purchase almost 950 acres of open space. The towns of Kent, Sharon and Woodbury are among those benefitting from this round of funding.
The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program helps local governments and land trusts purchase open space using funding from the 2005 Community Investment Act and state bond funds. This grant program requires a conservation and public recreation easement that will ensure that the property is forever protected for public use and enjoyment.
Open space protection projects help Connecticut achieve the goal to protect 673,000 acres of land by 2023. Connecticut has 500,000 acres designated as state or local open space lands, 74-percent of the goal.
The Kent Land Trust will use $100,000 to purchase 25.3 acres of land for a project known as West Aspetuck Scenic Wetlands. The property is downstream from North Spectacle Lake and across the street from the 250-acre Camp Francis. The property features forested land, wetlands and a freshwater aquatic habitat that may include endangered and threatened plant species. The Kent Land Trust holds a limited conservation easement on the land. The funding will make it so development rights are non-existent.
The Sharon Land Trust will use $538,687 to purchase 72.1 acres of land for the Benton Hill Preserve. The property is located next to the New York State line between Route 343 and Benton Hill Road. This is the first step in a planned greenway along Route 343. The property hosts a ridge wit scenic vista, wetlands and open fields composed of almost 80-percent prime agricultural soils. This purchase also protects a large adjacent wetland complex where several plant or animal species of concern have been documented.
Woodbury is receiving $1.5 million to acquire two parcels of land from Aquarion Water Company. One parcel is more than 180 acres known as the Woodbury Reservoir Property spanning into Southbury. It contains an inactive reservoir and abuts three town open space properties. The other parcel is 69 acres of land along Route 64, and adjacent to the Whittemore Sanctuary. Both properties are undeveloped, have extensive wetlands, and 10 acres of open water. They are part of the Pomperaug River Greenway and contain the Middlebury Trolley Bed Trail