GROTON — Following is the text of a news release issued by The Conservation Fund, Arlington, Virginia, about GOSA’s acquisition of the Sheep Farm Dec. 14, 2010:
The Groton Open Space Association (GOSA) has purchased a 63-acre tract in the Poquonnock uplands of Groton with a loan from The Conservation Fund. The acquired parcel will be open to the public for passive recreation and will function as an outdoor classroom for all ages, providing opportunities for historical and natural studies and community enjoyment.
The property, known as the Sheep Farm, dates back to the early 1700s and includes remnants of agricultural and industrial operations among them an early 18th-century grist mill along Fort Hill Brook and the Samuel Edgecomb House. In a family celebrated for their great size and strength, Edgecomb’s son became famous for his efforts to fight off British troops during the Revolutionary War by effectively throwing 18-pound shots, one with each hand, over the walls of Fort Griswold in Groton.
The Sheep Farm’s mountain laurel forest, meadows, and highly productive wetlands, with three major and two minor vernal pools, provide ideal habitat for a wide array of plant, bird, amphibian and other species. The site’s 10-foot waterfall on Fort Hill Brook forms a natural barrier to migrating fish, with the exception of the American eel, which can scale the rock wall. Fort Hill Brook flows onward from the farm to Mumford Cove, which feeds the Long Island Sound.
GOSA won two state grants totaling $616,500 toward the $878,500 purchase price. These consisted of $534,300 from the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program and $82,200 from the DEP/Long Island Sound Fund Program. The balance of $262,000 was raised from seven foundations and many individuals. GOSA required a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund in order to close on the site prior to the scheduled expiration of the purchase option on Dec. 31, 2010, due to a time gap between the announcement of awards and actual funding.
This was GOSA’s second major acquisition in the last several years. In May 2008, it purchased the 75-acre Merritt Family Forest in Groton. GOSA and its members played a major part in the creation of the Haley Farm and Bluff Point state parks in the 1960s and 1970s.
Joan Smith, GOSA president, said: “Our organization faced a tight deadline on the Sheep Farm acquisition. Without timely cash, our option would have lapsed. We are grateful to The Conservation Fund for filling our need for a trusted, reliable and ready source of money to acquire this beautiful property.”
“Like so many of our local land trust partners around the country, the Groton Open Space Association is an all-volunteer organization that is doing amazing work,” said Reggie Hall, manager of The Conservation Fund’s Land Trust Loan Program. “We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to assist them in the protection of the Sheep Farm. The Conservation Fund is fortunate to call the Groton Open Space Association a partner.”
About the Groton Open Space Association
GOSA is a non-profit association founded in 1967. It seeks to promote, acquire, or maintain open space for public use, alone or in cooperation with local, state or federal agencies or with other nonprofit organizations. A further goal is to educate the public about the value of open space, water resources, conservation, and environmental preservation. For further information, see www.gosaonline.org
About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund is dedicated to advancing America’s land and water legacy. With our partners, we conserve land, train leaders and invest in conservation at home. Since 1985, we have helped protect more than 6.7 million acres, sustaining wild havens, working lands and vibrant communities. For more information visit, www.conservationfund.org.