State Grants Awarded to Preserve Branford, Madison Woodlands

File Photo State Sen. Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) announced yesterday that Branford and Madison would receive major state grants aimed at preserving nearly 100 acres of significant forest land within their towns.

Kennedy was joined by Representatives Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), and Noreen Kokoruda (R-Madison) as he announced that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program had approved $91,000 for Branford’s Red Hill Road property. The Red Hill property, located off Exit 56 at I-95, was recently acquired by the Branford Land Trust (BLT). This 29.1-acre undeveloped wood lot is within the Hoadley Creek watershed and contributes to an existing greenway of forest land.

Bill Horne, Co-Chair of the land trust Acquisition Committee, said, “The amount of the grant, more than the previous cap of 50% of the purchase price, is evidence that DEEP recognized that this project protects many conservation values that are important to the state, including habitat for State-listed plants and animals and its location within a large block of coastal forest.”

Madison will receive a $715,000 grant for the acquisition of two parcels that are currently owned by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (CCRWA) in the town.  These undeveloped woodlands are located on Summer Hill road and Route 80.

The grants will enable wildlife habitat, water quality, forest protection and public recreation to be enhanced or permanently protected, Kennedy said.

Kokoruda said, “The funding for the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (CCRWA) will provide generations to come with the opportunity to enjoy unencumbered landscapes and expanded trails, right here in Madison.” Kokoruda serves as the 101st General Assembly District representing Madison and Durham. “During difficult economic times like these, it’s really great to see organizations making strides and forming partnerships to fulfill their common mission, which is to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of our shoreline towns,” she said.

Red Hill’s Debut

In early July the BLT introduced the 29 acres of Red Hill woods to the public for the first time. The Eagle joined them.The land trust also celebrated a brand new trail, which will provide hikers with better access to the interior of the property, as well as direct access to the area’s wetlands and reputed Native American rock shelter.

Red Hill Woods borders on an existing tract of over 950 acres of environmentally sensitive coastal forest in the Hoadley Creek Watershed that is currently protected by the BLT, the Guilford Land Conservation Trust, and the Town of Branford.

BLT President Pete Raymond said “the Red Hill Woods property has some unique features, including a floodplain forest, and is also adjacent to a large parcel of open space on the shoreline managed by the Branford and Guilford Land Trusts. These larger parcels are particularly important for upland conservation and protecting downstream ecosystems….”

Sen. Kennedy said, “These two projects will protect and preserve large plots of open, undeveloped lands for future generations to enjoy. The natural character of Connecticut’s shoreline communities is what makes them such great places to live…”

“State Rep. Reed said, “This DEEP grant helps expand and protect existing open space assets along the Branford/Guilford border that are enjoyed by shoreline residents of all ages and that also attract visitors to our area who come to explore and stay to shop and dine.”

State Rep. Scanlon said, “Preservation of this 29-acre property, which runs through Guilford and Branford, will ensure wildlife habitat, help with water qualify and forest protecting, and enhance public recreation.”

Mike Maloney, the president of the Madison Land Conservation Trust (MLCT), hailed the grant award as a real victory. “Land purchases such as this help our environment and water resources, open up passive recreational opportunities, and help to preserve the rural character of Madison.  One of the MLCT priorities is land along our rivers, and these two parcels abut Hammonasset River watershed land.  Conserving them will benefit not only that land, but also the health of the river and Long Island Sound.”

Open space projects like these are helping Connecticut achieve its goal of protecting 673,210 acres of land and preserving 21 percent of state land by 2023, Kennedy said. To date, Connecticut has over 500,000 acres designated as state or local open space lands, close to 75 percent of the goal.

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