Norfolk Land Trust Acquires Lovers Lane Parcel

Over the past 42 years, the Norfolk Land Trust (NLT) has gathered about 4,000 acres of land under its protective umbrella, preserving large tracts of natural resources for future generations, either through direct ownership or conservation easements. For nearly all of those 42 years, NLT has hoped to preserve 82 acres on Lovers Lane linking its Barbour Woods and Spring Hill preserves. 

This week the NLT will acquire that special parcel, home to headwaters for the Blackberry River, a critical habitat, and more than a dozen rare species, opposite its Barbour Woods preserve. Barbour Woods, a lovely 200-acre haven whose tranquil silence attracts bird watchers, hikers and dog walkers, was given to the NLT in 1998 by Alison Barbour Fox. 

Now, the preserve will be augmented by the new parcel across the road, described by NLT co-president Elizabeth Borden as a “beautiful piece of property, filled with old-growth forest, wonderful caves, a spring house and trails that people can enjoy.”

“We only acquire land that has conservation value,” she added.

Borden purchased the property when it went on the market and held it while the NLT arranged financing. “We try to acquire contiguous properties,” she said, “which is important for the wildlife part of conservation.”

Many wild creatures—avian, mammalian and amphibian—are declining in numbers because they require large, uninterrupted tracts of open space and forest. 

The NLT also maintains a series of trails throughout its holdings. “We are very proud of our trail system,” said Borden. “We have more than 22 miles of trails that we maintain on our own properties and on state land.” The trails, which are located throughout the town, and which provide a range of hiking experiences, are frequently used by residents and visitors alike. 

“People sometimes grumble because they think we are taking land off the tax rolls,” Borden said, “but the actual tax reduction is very low because most of it is already classified as forest land [under Connecticut Public Act 490] or is held by a 501(c) 3 and is tax exempt.”

According to the state’s website, Public Act 490 provides an assessment of land classified as either forest, farm, open space or maritime heritage that is only a fraction of the value of residential or commercial assessments, providing a financial incentive for landowners to maintain the land.  

When land is preserved by the land trust through conservation easements, it is protected in perpetuity, but continues to be the property of the landowner and remains on the tax rolls. The NLT assumes stewardship of the land, monitoring it at least once a year. 

“We are accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and our third accreditation is coming up this year,” said Borden. “That is an important thing for land trusts.” 

Every accredited land trust completes a rigorous review process to demonstrate its fiscal accountability, strong organizational leadership, sound transactions and lasting stewardship of the lands it conserves. 

NLT funding for land acquisition and maintenance comes from donations, government grants, and grants from foundations.   

Borden said the NLT “reaches out to the community in all sorts of ways. We have a big presence on social media and are always seeking input.”

This weekend, it holds its annual meeting on Saturday, February 17, at 2:00 p.m. at the Norfolk Library. Members will vote on directors for the coming year. Even if you cannot vote, visitors are welcome to enjoy a talk by Carl Safina following the brief business meeting. Safina will speak on “Beyond Words – What Animals Think and Feel.” 

“It will be a very good family afternoon,” Borden said. “It’s a fun, positive organization.”

NLT has also participated in the annual Friday Nights on the Green events, has hosted hikes along its trails and hosted a program last fall for Botelle School children on Dennis Hill.

—Newsletter Editor

View all News