By Emily d’Aulaire, December 2014
2015 is a milestone year for Redding Land Trust as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. The goal of the founders a half century ago was a simple one: preserve the natural resources of our town and acquire the land needed to do so. It started small--a gift of four acres. And it grew. Today the Land Trust is the steward of more than 1700 acres of prime open space, all kept safe for generations to come. It's an extraordinary accomplishment and one to celebrate. But we cannot rest on our laurels. There is far less land available to us today than there was when we first set out to preserve Redding's open space. Donations to the Land Trust are more vital than ever to allow us to follow the dream that began back then. We hope you will join us in celebrating our success and assuring that we can keep Redding the green oasis that it is with a special Anniversary Gift to the Land Trust.
Says Redding's First Selectman Julia Pemberton, "The Land Trust's contributions to Redding are immeasurable. It is not by accident that Redding is a clean, green, breath of fresh air; a respite from an increasingly crowded Fairfield County. It is the result of the Land Trust's visionary founders who recognized early on the importance of open space preservation as being essential to the environmental and economic well being of the Town. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thanks to the Redding Land Trust, this will forever be true of Redding."
Natalie Ketcham, First Selectman of Redding for 14 years is a long-time supporter of the Trust and its work. "Appreciation for the environment is a common denominator among the varied ages and backgrounds of Redding residents, past and present," she claims. "Nowhere is this more evident than in the thousands of acres of preserved open space that exist thanks to the Land Trust. It is what drew many of us here, keeps many of us here, and why we should celebrate and support the Redding Land Trust in their important anniversary year."
We on the Land Trust board are celebrating our special anniversary with the launch of a new web site. A committee of five Trustees has been working with HainesDesign in Essex, CT, since the spring of 2014 to create the new site. We hope you will find it engaging and informative-- and one more reason to make a special 50th Anniversary contribution to the Land Trust.
2014 was an exceptionally good year for the Land Trust as we continued to add to our holdings. In the fall, the Trust received an easement on a 2-acre open meadow off Meeker Hill that provides an uninterrupted view south to Long Island Sound. The property, which was a gift from Eugene Connolly in honor of his late wife Virginia, abuts other land protected by Redding Land Trust as well as connecting to Centennial Watershed State Forest land. Henry Sanford also added to our open space off Meeker Hill in the fall of 2014 with a gift of 1.7 acres just south of the Connolly field. In December the Trust received a gift of 21.83 acres on George Hull Hill Road from the estate of Lotte Fields. This beautiful piece of land, covered by hardwood forest, is one of the last places in Redding where the Saugatuck River passes through privately held banks on both sides.
In October 2014, First Selectman Julia Pemberton announced that the Town of Redding will receive $170,000 to help fund the acquisition of the Biehn property as permanently protected open space. Said Ms. Pemberton at the time, "Support from the Redding Land Trust was instrumental to the grant's success." The support has not ended. The Land Trust has pledged to match the state grant in order to finance the purchase of the 30.7 acres of pristine open space and watershed land at the bottom of Hill Road, an area often referred to as the Gateway to Redding. The mostly wooded property has over 1600 feet of frontage on Hill Road (Route 107) and about 300 feet on Mail Coach Road. The Town has a year to complete the acquisition of this important piece of Redding property. The Land Trust is working hard to raise the matching funds to make this a special 50th anniversary gift to Redding.