New England Cities Take Regional Approach to Environmental Protection: Local Coalitions Ensure the Preservation and Cataloging of Natural Resources in Two Communities

By Davis, Lance | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 4, 2005 | Go to article overview

New England Cities Take Regional Approach to Environmental Protection: Local Coalitions Ensure the Preservation and Cataloging of Natural Resources in Two Communities


Davis, Lance, Nation's Cities Weekly


In some New England states, cities have found that working together they can do more to save the environment.

The Connecticut cities of Branford and North Branford, working with the regional water authority and local nonprofits, joined forces to purchase 127 acres of open space, preserving hardwood forests and wetlands around Saltonstall Mountain.

For the New Hampshire cities of Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham and Wakefield, a regional effort through the Moose Mountain Regional Greenways led to mapping project of local wetlands to help city leaders in their future planning efforts.

Neither project would have been successful without intergovernmental cooperation.

A Classic Partnership

About three years ago, a Branford family that owned 127 acres of land between the cities of Branford and North Branford decided to sell the property for development.

The land along Saltonstall Mountain is a unique open space that protects the Metacomet Ridge System--which runs through Connecticut to the Long Island Sound and into Massachusetts--the Farm River Estuary, the Pisgah Brook Preserve and local watershed.

At roughly 800 acres, it is the largest contiguous open space in Branford and North Branford.

The possibility of private development in the environmentally sensitive area--home to vernal pools and hardwood forests that are home to a number of endangered species--spurred Branford Land Trust to start looking for ways to purchase the property.

"We're a small land trust, and we knew the price tag would be about $2 million and that we just couldn't do anything on that scale by ourselves," said Joan Merrick of the Branford Land Trust.

"Branford is a small town on the Connecticut shoreline that's close to built-out, and there were many of us who didn't want to see the town entirely paved over," said Merrick.

Merrick referred the matter to the town council, which has a select committee on land acquisition made up of members of the town council, the land trust and another non-profit, Citizens for Branford's Environment.

Spearheaded by former First Selectman Anthony DeRos, the city began exploring ways to purchase the property.

The solution came about through a unique regional effort that included the Branford Land Trust, Town of Branford, Regional Water Authority, North Branford Land Trust, Friends of the Farm River Estuary, Farm River Protective Association and the Foote Family Charitable Trust.

Branford agreed to purchase the property for $2 million. The Branford Land Trust donated $100,000 toward purchase. The North Branford Land Trust, Friends of the Farm River Estuary and the Farm River Protective Association donated $50,000, which was matched by the Foote Family Charitable Trust.

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New England Cities Take Regional Approach to Environmental Protection: Local Coalitions Ensure the Preservation and Cataloging of Natural Resources in Two Communities
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