Warren group keeps its eye on conservation

The Warren Land Trust is celebrating two milestones — its 30th anniversary and the recent completion of an expansion at a preserve.

A community picnic to mark the anniversary will be held Sept. 15, and a hike is set for Sept. 21 (see sidebar, this page).

“Warren Land Trust has grown its portfolio of preserves and easements and our anniversary is the perfect time to celebrate that work and highlight to the community the benefits of WLT's work,” said Elizabeth Chandler, a four-year board member who has been chair of the land acquisition and stewardship committee for the past two years.

“Through these kinds of events and our ongoing relationship building with the community, we are able to give examples of successful land preservation and engage in discussions with property owners about their potential participation.”

Rebecca Neary, president of the land trust, said the rural character of the town is what the all-volunteer organization — managed by a board — aims to preserve.

“Part of why people are drawn to Warren is its rural character,” she said.

The trust “works to preserve farmland, open space, natural and endangered resources such as wetlands, forests and wildlife habitats, by encouraging the gifting of land and the use of conservation easements to permanently preserve open space,” according to its mission statement.

Nearly 800 acres of land is under the trust’s protection, including 11 fee properties and 15 conservation easements.

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Trust to hold community picnic for anniversary

The Warren Land Trust will host a 30th anniversary community picnic, featuring a barbecue lunch with live music, games, company and views of Lake Waramaug, Sept. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hopkins Vineyard at 25 Hopkins Road in Warren.

Lunch will be provided by the Clambaking Company; folk, bluegrass and blues-rock music will be by Switch Factory; and local libations from Litchfield Distillery and Kent Falls Brewery will be offered.

Tickets are $15 per person older than 16 and free for individuals under 16. Tickets are available in advance at www.warrenlandtrust.org, and will also be available at the door.

'Housatonic Heritage Walk' scheduled

The Warren Land Trust and Warren Historical Society will co-present "Housatonic Heritage Walk: Charcoal Pits and the Iron Industry in Warren and the Northwest Corner" Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. starting meet in the parking lot at the Warren Town Hall at 50 Cemetery Road.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Warren's forests were denuded of trees and summer sun was obscured by smoke from the charcoal production needed for the area's booming iron industry.

Attendees will see the remains of charcoal pits and learn about this aspect of Warren's history and how the natural environment has evolved. Individuals, who are encouraged to bring a water bottle, are invited to walk 2.5 miles over moderately challenging terrain (with a shorter, easier option).

Registration is recommended by emailing info@warrenlandtrust.org.

The theme of the land trust’s anniversary year has been “public access, public benefit.”

To that end, the land trust has cleared and improved trails, prepared a set of trail maps, and completed a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform at Eel Pond Preserve.

“What we’ve been doing is implementing the best practices in the trust in regard to conservation,” Neary said.

Chandler noted a new website was recently launched and emphasized the trail maps are also online and available as a hard copy at the new Warren General Store and at town hall.

Neary said the last few years have been busier than those of the past.

Historically, the land trust did not have many trails. But in more recently years, the trust has worked diligently to make trails more accessible so residents can enjoy the land and beauty all around.

The first trail was at the Dorothy Maier Preserve, named for one of the trust’s founders.

Over the years, three other trails have been introduced at the Strong Preserve, Coords Preserve and the Willis Tanner Farm Preserve.

Additionally, the Eel Pond Preserve was recently expanded to include a wheelchair accessible walk to a viewing platform.

Construction at Eel Pond Preserve began roughly six months ago, with funding provided through the Connecticut Community Foundation’s spring Give Local campaign and a grant from the Harcourt Foundation.

Final touches, including the addition of an informational kiosk, remain.

Neary said much thought — including accessibility, maintenance and view, among other factors — goes into deciding whether trails are suitable at a site.

Volunteers and other organizations, such as Arbor Services, have provided much of the maintenance on existing trails, she said.

The land trust was founded in 1989 by a group of Warren residents. Five years ago, the trust was awarded accreditation by the National Land Trust Alliance.

The mark of distinction in land conservation indicates the Warren Land Trust meets rigorous national standards for excellence in land stewardship, as well as in its governance and financial practices.

For more information, visit www.warrenlandtrust.org.