Beginnings and Early Years
It was in July 1965 that Dolly Thurston called as asked me to be the treasurer of the newly formed Guilford Land Trust. From then on for 14 years, the Trust was part of our lives. There had been a lot of agitation to do something about the filling and consequent ruination of the salt marshes in the town of Guilford and also along the coast. At the early meetings under the leadership o the late Louis C. Scherer, we were helped tremendously by the late Ray Wiswell of Madison. The Madison Land Trust had been formed the year before and had studied several such corporations in the Boston area. Ray loaned us their by-laws and articles of incorporation along with much expertise. The GLCT has always been very grateful for his help. Robert Jelley worked many long hours as our advising attorney.
Publicity, pamphlets, talks and lots of “button-holing” started people thinking, and by November, 1965 the first gift of a two-acre piece of salt marsh was received from the Bishop family. Many maps were prepared showing the ownership of critical marshland that might be given or purchased. By early 1968, several small areas had been given for a total of 24 acres. Miss Eleanor Little, an early Life Member and always the generous benefactor, donated Perry’s Pond, an attractive 10-acre memorial to Miss May Caughey. Two larger areas of salt marsh were given by the Anderson-Wilcox and the Macauley Development Company, bringing the total at year end to 91 acres.
With the passing of the coastal wetlands law, the drive to save the marshes was modified and attention turned to other endangered areas. Westwoods, the large wooded area owned by the State, Town and others, became the focus of the GLCT. There were several key parcels that were either purchased or donated. It was the hope that procuring the interior parcels would “Save the Westwoods” from developers. It was in 1973 that a key piece of 55 acres was to be sold to a developer to put up a 200-bedroom condominium on the eastern edge of the woods. Through negotiation with the owner, the GLCT took the “plunge” and bought the property. Under the very able direction of Dr. John Brogden, $100,000 was raised in three years. There were anxious moments when the mortgage payment became due, but many generous and loyal friends “came through”!
There were two other outstanding pieces of property given. One, an adjoining piece to Perry’s Pond by Miss Little. This was 29 acres. The one greatest land gift in 1973 was by an anonymous donor. This was a 50-acre piece of forest land now known as “Nut Plains Woods.” Beautiful trees over 70 years old, brooks and cliffs lend their charm to a three-mile foot path that has been laid out in the area. This has been enjoyed by many people and the GLCT is eternally grateful to this thoughtful person.
At the beginning of 1977, the Trust owned 397 acres. During that year a 27-acre piece off Three Mile Course was purchased from David Punzelt and other acquisitions of 45 acres from Archie Bailey and 10 acres from Bill Denison, both developers, these parcels not in the WestWoods.
One of the greatest sources of income for land purchase has been Guilford Recycling, Inc. The income from glass, aluminum, and newspaper has amounted to $10,000 (1983). Through the efforts of Marcius Scott and Carolie Evans and many volunteers, this source continues to dismay all of our neighboring towns by its well-run operation.
The Guilford Land Conservation Trust has been fortunate to have had strong leadership during these years. The Board members are workers and dedicated to the job in hand. There are all sorts of tasks to be done and no one shirks his or her duty. It is impossible to name all the 70 different people that served the Board, but it was under the guidance of these Presidents that he Trust has arrived at the place in forefront of area Land Trusts. Serving as Presidents of the Trust to the present time:
- Louis C Scherer
- Dr. Patrick McKengey
- Dr. John M. Brogden
- Richmond H. Curtiss
- H. Ben Bullard
- Carolie Evans
- Richard H. Whitehead
– Richmond H.Curtiss