The Acquisition Committee identifies large, undeveloped parcels or areas that are of high environmental value, and targets those properties for protection. Land types with the highest priorities for acquisition have unusual diversity and/or abundance of wildlife: forests, watercourses, inland wetlands and tidal marshes. Property adjacent to land already protected is also given a high priority. We have recently begun to give high priorities to areas that are predicted to flood as sea levels rise, in order to provide space into which tidal marshes will be able to retreat and thus maintain the high marsh that is flooded only by the highest tides and is so important for the birds and other species that depend on this habitat. We welcome any inquiry or suggestions of possible acquisitions.
There are several ways for the Trust to protect undeveloped land. It can acquire the property by donation or by purchase. The Trust may also receive easements on properties. With such a conservation easement, the property owner continues to own the property and may sell it or leave it to heirs, but the ownership and transfer of the land is subject to certain restrictions on the development, and the Trust has the legal right and responsibility to enforce those restrictions.
The Trust has received the bulk of its holdings from donations of open space, ranging in size from the 104.5 acres off of Red Hill Road donated by the Van Wie family, to parcels less than one acre in size, and even several tiny islands (or rocks) in Long Island Sound. Some properties have been given to the Trust from subdivision developments as part of the local zoning regulations’ requirement of designated open space.
The Trust also purchases property when an important parcel becomes available at a price that it can afford. Purchases have involved partnerships with the town, the state, and the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. Funding for these acquisitions comes from government and private grants and, most importantly, contributions from our members and the general public. The Trust maintains an acquisition fund, which enables it to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. Contributions to this fund are always welcome, and will be put to good use protecting Branford’s remaining open space.
If you are interesting in protecting undeveloped property, please contact the Branford Land Trust. Our Acquisition Committee will work with you to choose an option for permanently protecting the open space that works best for you.