Conservation Land Transfers Add to Protected Areas of Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge

Nov 16th, 2011 | By | Category: Land, Preservation

Ecologically and Historically Significant Properties in East Hampton and Old Lyme Add to Footprint of Unique Federal Refuge.

NEW HAVEN, CT — The protected area of the Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge has grown, and the public will gain enhanced access in a place of significance to American naturalist history, with transfer by The Nature Conservancy of 96 acres of land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The transfer includes a 40-acre parcel in East Hampton that contains a half-mile of Pine Brook, a direct tributary of the Salmon River. This property was transferred jointly by The Nature Conservancy and the Middlesex Land Trust.

Connecticut River in Lyme (cjzurcher)

Connecticut River in Lyme (cjzurcher)

The transfer also includes 56 acres in Old Lyme that were once part of the estate of acclaimed naturalist, ornithologist and author Roger Tory Peterson. Peterson’s 1934 publication, “A Field Guide to the Birds,” was the forerunner of the immensely popular Peterson Field Guide series.

“When you walk on the Roger Tory Peterson property, you are walking in the footsteps of someone who influenced countless people to get out into nature in a positive and meaningful way,” said Frogard Ryan, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “It’s entirely fitting that this land and the Pine Brook Falls preserve become managed as parts of the unique and respected Conte Refuge, a cornerstone of conservation in New England.”

Said Andrew French, project leader for the Silvio O. Conte Refuge: “These lands provide wonderful opportunities for the Refuge to further the roles envisioned by Silvio O. Conte and Congress, when lawmakers authorized the Refuge in 1991. Conservation, environmental education and outdoor recreation, and partnerships are the cornerstones of our foundation for our work within the Connecticut River watershed. We’re extremely grateful to the members of Congress, especially the entire Connecticut delegation, and our partners, the public, and Friends of Silvio O. Conte Refuge, who all helped make these investments in conservation possible.”

The Connecticut U.S. Congressional delegation includes Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Joe Lieberman and Reps. Jim Himes, Rosa L. DeLauro, Joe Courtney, John B. Larson and Christopher S. Murphy.

The Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997 to protect the entire, four-state Connecticut River watershed. It is the only federal refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed, and one of only three refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System that has “Fish” in its title.

The Pine Brook Falls preserve is part of the exceptionally healthy Salmon River system.  Though found in a rapidly developing region, it is part of an area that includes tidal marshes, forested riverbanks and streams teeming with trout. The Conservancy purchased the property in 2003. It later transferred the land to the Middlesex Land Trust while retaining a conservation easement. Pine Brook Falls is part of the Conte Refuge’s Salmon Cove Focus Area.

The Peterson property helps protect the tidal marsh communities of the Lieutenant River and Great Island marsh complex, as well as the Lower Connecticut River and Lieutenant River and estuaries. Purchased by the Conservancy in 2002, it is part of the Conte Refuge’s Lieutenant River Focus Area. This property includes Roger Tory Peterson’s original business office, known as the York House.

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