The Guilford Land Conservation Trust has purchased 17 acres of woodlands in the geographic center of Westwoods from a private landowner, moving the group a step closer to fully protecting the land on which the public Westwoods trails run.
“This is a key property, and it has been a high priority of ours for many years,” said Sarah Williams, GLCT President. “It is, quite literally, at the center of Westwoods. Several trails cross over it, including the popular White Circle trail, and preserving it will ensure that the Westwoods forest will not be fragmented at its core.”
Although GLCT and the State of Connecticut own nearly all of the property in Westwoods, this parcel was one of a handful still privately held. The Trust purchased the property for $300,000 and must pay off a $200,000 mortgage before July of 2014. GLCT relies primarily on donations from individuals in the community and has begun a fundraising campaign to pay for this vital project. Prior to going public with this effort, GLCT had already secured commitments of over $40,000. “The Land Trust bought its first Westwoods holding in 1969. Since then, GLCT has continued to add parcels. “We have been fortunate that owners have been willing to make this possible either through gifts, bargain prices, or payment terms,” explained Red Erda, Chair of Land Acquisition for GLCT.
Leveraging individual donations, GLCT has protected hundreds of acres in Westwoods. The Trust has also received major land donations in the area, most notably, Effie Good’s donation of 42 acres off of Moose Hill Road. “Westwoods is a defining and much-loved resource for Guilford, and the region, and the Land Trust is committed to its conservation, but we do need financial support from the community to complete this purchase,” Williams said. The Trust will lead hikes in Westwoods throughout the fall to highlight this acquisition.
Westwoods is located less than a mile and a half from downtown Guilford and serves as a significant watershed to the Long Island Sound. Under GLCT ownership, the public may access the land during daylight hours for passive recreation. Popular activities in Westwoods include hiking, running, birding, and mountain biking. Founded in 1965, GLCT is an all-volunteer, non-profit group dedicated to preserving important open space in Guilford.
More information about this acquisition can be obtained at www.guilfordlandtrust.org.