Kent Land Trust accepts two new donations totaling 150 acres
KENT — More than 150 acres in the northern part of town has been protected from development, thanks to two recent donations to the Kent Land Trust.
The donations will expand natural areas previously set aside and help protect the area’s water sources.
The larger of the two donations, including 137 acres of forest, was the gift of Robert Avian, more than tripling the namesake preserve he established in 1999 with 58 acres of meadows and forest. The other 17 acres were donated by The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit.
The Avian Preserve sits next to the Housatonic Meadows Wildlife Management Area, which is overseen by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Together the original preserve and the management area protect 538 acres of riverfront, “providing flood protection and forming an important wildlife corridor,” according to a release from the Kent Land Trust.
“For two decades, Bob Avian has been a great friend and supporter of the Kent Land Trust,” said Board Chair Jane Klein. “This new gift reaffirms Bob’s commitment to conservation and the Town. He has helped preserve Kent’s rural character and made our community more resilient. We are extremely grateful.”
Avian’s most recent donation extends the original preserve southeastward, including two large parcels that share a boundary with the Wyantenock State Forest. The parcels have rocky glades with towering hickory and oak trees, as well as pockets of wetlands that feed into several small streams.
“Because of their size, interior forest habitats, water features and proximity to other protected land, these properties were high on our list of conservation priorities,” said the trust’s land manager, Mike Benjamin.
The trust also assumed ownership of the 17-acre Housatonic Preserve from the Conservation Fund, which was given the land in 1994 by the Stanley Works, a tool company that owned about 1,000 acres along the Housatonic River.
The Housatonic Preserve has about 2,600 feet of riverfront along the Housatonic River near Kent Falls State Park.
“We are pleased to transfer this beautiful riverfront property to our longtime partners at the Kent Land Trust,” said Reggie Hall, director of The Conservation Fund’s conservation loans program. “Under their stewardship, the land will be forever preserved, ensuring the viewshed from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the natural character of the surrounding protected landscape.”
The preserve has cultural and historical value because it was the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1935 through 1950. Some of the camp’s features, including a few cellar holes.
The preserve, which borders a busy, winding section of Route 7, is not yet open to the public because the trust is trying to find a safe entrance.
“We look forward to working with our community partners to showcase the natural and cultural resources on this beautiful preserve,” said Connie Manes, the trust’s executive director.
The Kent Land Trust was established more than 25 years ago. It protects more than 2,650 acres through conservation easements and nature preserves, nine of which have public trails.