Land trust eyes town-owned land in Bridgewater
Published 9:28 pm, Thursday, July 23, 2015
Residents of Bridgewater have asked for more information on a 17-acre parcel of town-owned land along Mine Hill Road of which the Bridgewater Land Trust would like take stewardship.
At a July 15 town meeting, a vote on the requested donation was tabled until more information can be made available for residents on the property and its possible uses.
First Selectman Curtis Read said research has to be done by the selectmen before a decision would be reached.
“The land trust asked us if donating the land was a possibility,” Read said July 16. “We did some research and brought it to the people, who want more information.”
Read said the property is a “beautiful bog” with some drier areas not accessible and also some drier land near the road.
“It likely recharges ground water for Mine Hill residents,” Read said. “It would be good for the land trust to preserve it, but we all have to do more homework before moving forward.”
The land had been donated to the town in 1986 by the late John S. Weatherly. The parcel is appraised at $450,000, according to the assessor’s card.
It is contiguous to land trust-held property straddling the New Milford-Bridgewater town line.
Robert Shaver, the Bridgewater Land Trust president, noted the land trust was not in existence when Weatherly donated the property to the town.
Aware of the parcel, the land trust started exploring having ownership transferred in the last few months.
“We hired a naturalist/forester, Ian Branson, who prepared a report on the property,” Shaver said. “He found the conservation value to the property was very high. It comprises mostly marsh wetlands with seasonally marshy areas.”
Branson said the property in its present state has many “special habitat elements” making it valuable as a nature preserve for wildlife, especially for songbirds.
Those elements include “critical wetland habitats, diversity of cover types with lots of early successional soft edge habitat between them,” Branson’s report reads, “an abundance of large snags and cavity trees, and proximity to a large vernal pool.”
The parcel could be developed for recreation by installing hiking trails, boardwalks and observation platforms, Branson found.
The Bridgewater Land Trust was formed in 1987.
It monitors, stewards and oversees 400 acres of Bridgewater forest land, farm land, watercourse and open space.