Stewardship isn’t all fun and games…

Notes from our work crews: Great turnout on a perfect weather day for the second to last day in November! Eleven volunteers all showed up at the Sheep Farm at 1:00 to do a final mowing and fall cleanup.  After finishing up the Sheep Farm in about 35 minutes the team split up, with a few of us going to The Merritt Family Forest and the rest to Avery Farm Nature Preserve, North.  The Merritt was done by 2:00 and everybody reconvened at Avery Farm.  We had 4 mowers going, weed whackers, pole saws, hedge trimmers and everything was all cleaned up by 3:00.  All three sites are done for the rest of the fall and winter.

Finally, the remaining debris from a previous work party at BeBee Cove was loaded into the back of my truck and got it to the dump by 4:00.   Very, very productive day.  Remaining work will be cleaning up tree damage from the storms.  Apparently, according to scouts, there is massive damage in the far back of Avery Farm.  It’s possible that we could get a NCRS grant to clean it up and build habitat piles.

Almost all winter equipment prep is done. The the tires have been taken off of the storage trailer, the built in jack supports lowered, (this trailer was a high quality acquisition!) and we finished the job in less than 30 minutes.One volunteer suggested we might be able to qualify for the over 65 NASCAR pit crew test!  Stewardship love enthusiasm, but I think that might be a stretch…

Read More

2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award, All-Volunteer category

The National Land Trust Alliance Rally in Denver, Colorado,was attended this October by ten GOSA members in support of receipt of the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category. This prestigious honor was accepted, on behalf of all GOSA members and donors, by Joan Smith and Sidney Van Zandt. Individuals paid their own travel and hotel expenses in order to participate in the award ceremony, workshops and field trips.

Sidney Van Zandt, Vice President, and Joan Smith, President, accepted the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category during a welcoming dinner before 2000 participants. After a double Jumbotron debut of the three-minute video produced last summer by LTA photographer DJ Glisson, Sidney and Joan were given exactly two minutes to speak. Sidney, the second speaker, read aloud the “WRAP IT UP” warning, eliciting appreciative laughter, and arrived at a heartfelt conclusion. The audience was with us.

Joan posited that GOSA would not have been successful alone, citing appreciation of Amy Paterson and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council’s mentorship in governance and professionalism; appreciation of fiscal sponsorship by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association during the “Save the Haley Farm” campaign; and appreciation for the critical bridge loan by the Conservation Fund, which enabled GOSA to purchase the Sheep Farm just fifteen days before the option would have expired.

Sidney and Joan cited challenges faced by GOSA over 50 years: the planning commissioner who believed that grey-haired ladies could not manage a problematic property, and the Life Magazine articles describing “Battles Won” about Haley Farm and Bluff Point State Parks.

Joan and Sidney were dubbed the “feisty women” for the remainder of the Rally. GOSA made 2000 new friends and helped put Connecticut Land Trusts on the map, overcoming the differences in scale, funding and professional staffing found in many other parts of the country.


Read More

A word from the President, Oct. 2017

GOSA News Update October 2017GOSA has good news to share! More open spaces have been created for you and your family to enjoy! The Candlewood Hill State Wildlife Management Area was created in March 2017, and the new Beebe Cove Vista created in September 2017, joined with GOSA’s other open space projects and properties.

Candlewood Hill State Wildlife Management Area is a 201-acre property formerly owned by the Tilcon Corp. and is situated between I-95, Gold Star Highway, Flanders Road, and North Road in Groton. State rules of use for wildlife management areas will apply, and a management plan, parking, mapping, and trail marking is under development. The site is open to the public but is currently unmarked.  We recommend contacting GOSA for up to date information about access, parking, trails, and tours. GOSA raised contributing funds and has a contract to provide stewardship services.

Why is Candlewood Hill WMA special? The rugged bedrock ridges, cliffs, ravines, hollows, shrubby swamps, vernal pools, streams, and historic granite quarries provide scenic passive recreational opportunities for all. The 44-acre pitch pine barren atop the ridge is one of Connecticut’s 13 most imperiled ecosystems and both are wonderful to see and to smell. Candlewood Hill was historically named after its resin-rich and inflammable pitch pine. Knotholes used to be burned for lighting, and the resin was used for shipbuilding, waterproofing, and pine tar soap.

Beebe Cove Vista was generously donated by the Fredrick and Robert Anderson families to protect the views of Beebe Cove for public enjoyment. It consists of four small parcels along the edge of Beebe Cove and Elm Street in Noank/Groton. While only .56 acres, Beebe Cove packs a big visual punch from its grassy strip next to a popular bicycle, jogging and walking route and sidewalk. The vista includes blue waters, a small marsh with egrets and other wading birds, an osprey nest, migratory ducks, racing sculls and small craft. Please be respectful of private lots and docks next to the Beebe Cove Vista parcels. We thank Frederick and Robert Anderson for their generous donation of the property.

Your participation is the key to this small all-volunteer organization do big things!

Read More

Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge

Over the past century, many shrublands and young forests across the Northeast have been cleared for development or have grown into mature forests. As this habitat has disappeared from much of the landscape, the populations of more than 65 songbirds, mammals, reptiles, pollinators, and other wildlife that depend on it have fallen alarmingly.

Last spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to establish the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge dedicated to managing shrubland habitat for wildlife and connecting existing conservation areas (including GOSA properties) in southeastern New London and western Litchfield. The agency has also identified nine areas in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. To read the full release, click HERE. GOSA is thrilled with the plan and hopes to assist Fish and Wildlife in its efforts to identify properties in the area that will fit into this federal conservation plan.

Read More