Fifty years ago a great idea was born. Faced with rapidly increasing residential development to Redding’s south and increased commercialism to the north, economist, writer and local resident Stuart Chase sounded an alarm: “Large holdings are rumored on the verge of development,” he wrote. “The moment of truth has arrived.” People listened and, encouraged by Sam Hill, the first Chairman of Redding’s Conservation Commission and a descendant of John Read, the Redding Land Trust was incorporated in 1965.
It was an idea whose time had come. Within a year of its founding the Trust received a gift of four acres of high woodland on Wayside Lane. Soon after a 51-acre gift was added to the group’s holdings. Other donations followed and today Redding Land Trust, headed by Mary Anne Guitar, one of the five original founders, boasts over 1700 acres of protected land…and counting.
Who We Are
The Redding Land Trust is an all volunteer organization comprised of a nine-member Board of Trustees that meets at least six times a year. Each Trustee is assigned ten to twenty properties which he or she visits at least once a year, ensuring that the land receives the best possible care.
Trustees manage the Trust’s finances in consultation with a professional money management firm. Each year they oversee a fundraising and membership appeal mailed to each Redding resident as well as an annual meeting for the full membership with a featured speaker and a report from the President.
The Land Trust has published four editions of The Book of Trails which is a guide to the more than 60 miles of hiking trails that meander through properties owned by both the Trust and the Town of Redding.
In 2011 the Redding Land Trust underwent a stringent external review of its governance and management policies by the national Land Trust Alliance to become one of the few land trusts nationwide to receive the honor of accreditation through the work of an all-volunteer board.
Board of Trustees
Silvia Erskine, Co-President
Gordon Loery, Co-President
Henry Merritt, Vice President
Laurie Heiss, Vice President
Jane Ross, Secretary
Mary Ann Carman
The partnership that the Land Trust has forged since its founding with the Town of Redding makes us unique among our Fairfield County neighbors, The Town’s elected government has always fully supported the conservation mission of the Land Trust.. The Trust has provided binder fees in order to hold properties until they could be purchased by the Town, endorsed by nearly unanimous Town meeting votes. Today, the Trust stands ready to match state-funds granted to the Town in order to preserve a central and crucial property from development. Together, the Trust and Town share the cost of a part-time Land Manager who divides his time between the open space holdings of each, improving the overall stewardship of the town’s vast open space. In addition, the Redding Land Trust has worked in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, Redding Open Lands, Inc., Aquarian Water Company (formerly Bridgeport Hydraulic), the Redding schools and the State of Connecticut.