Naromi Land Trust extends its reach in Sherman
SHERMAN — Just days before the Naromi Land Trust’s 50th anniversary, it went back to its roots by accepting seven acres of land from the same family that donated the trust’s “core” some four decades ago.
The land came from Caroline Herrick, a relative of Amy Herrick, who donated 60 acres to the trust in 1975. Then, shortly after accepting the new parcel, the state announced it was awarding the nonprofit $76,500 toward the acquisition of 38 acres of land from the estate of Lucia Eastman.
The “Eastman parcel,” on the northern edge of town just south of the Ten Mile River, is all undeveloped forest.
The land trust now manages about 1,500 acres of land through easements and donated parcels, a far cry from when it was started by a concerned group of citizens in 1968, said Executive Director Amanda Branson.
It took five years before the nonprofit gained land to conserve, Branson said. The trust now conserves 12 percent of the land in town, boasts some 15 miles of hiking trails and has seen its membership grow 400 percent over the last decade.
“Naromi’s mission is to preserve the natural resources of Sherman for us now and also for future generations,” Branson said.
This week, a national land trust panel said Naromi had been doing just that. The trust gained national recognition Thursday, earning an accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. It is one of 398 trusts across the country that has been accredited.
“It is exciting to recognize Naromi Land Trust with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever.”
One of the trust’s volunteers is First Selectman Don Lowe, who helps with annual land surveys. Lowe said it is one of Sherman’s greatest assets.
“They’re a fantastic organization,” Lowe said. “They set us apart from a lot of other towns.”
He said the trust has helped the town “hang on to some of its rural character.”
The late 2017 donation from the Herrick family includes road frontage, guarantees public access to the preserve and further connects the trust’s land to federally held land surrounding the Appalachian Trail. The nonprofit plans to protect about 50 more acres in the next two years, Branson said.
But the trust has goals beyond acquisitions.
Outreach and improving access to the land are also priorities, she added. The trust conducts 12 to 16 public events a year that range from sponsored hikes to presentations on area wildlife.
Last year, Naromi teamed up with other area nonprofits and AmeriCorps volunteers to battle back invasive berberis plants, commonly called “barberry,” that overwhelmed a long-closed trail.
The shrubs, full of thorns and prone to housing ticks, made “it impossible to walk the trail” and limited access to other trails, Branson said.
AmeriCorps volunteers are slated to come back this year, and more dormant trails will soon come on line, she said.
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