The Guilford Land Conservation Trust has completed the largest open space protection project in its history with the acquisition of the remaining 33 acres of the 141-acre Broomstick Ledges.
The spectacular property, which runs along the east side of a scenic section of Route 77 across from Bluff Head in North Guilford, had been a top conservation priority of the land trust for years due to its critical environmental and recreational importance.
The land trust had agreed in the summer of 2007 to purchase the entire property from the descendants of George Etzel of Branford and New Haven for $2.15 million. The first 108 acres of the Broomstick Ledges were purchased the following fall, and the final transaction was concluded in September 2008.
“We are pleased to have safeguarded the Broomstick Ledges forever,” said land trust President Stephen Besse. “It is a magnificent property in its own right and is also a critical link in a chain of protected open space that stretches across Guilford and its neighboring towns.”
Protecting the Broomstick Ledges preserves the outstanding view that draws so many visitors to Guilford’s Bluff Head. The popular Mattabesett Trail crosses the property and is part of the New England Scenic Trail proposed by the National Park Service, which would run from New Hampshire to the Long Island Sound in Guilford. The Broomstick Ledges tract also offers a variety of high-quality, undisturbed habitats supporting an impressive variety of wildlife. Conservation of the property will protect headwater streams of the Coginchaug River, which flows north to the Connecticut River, and the West River, which flows south to the Long Island Sound.
After committing to purchase the property in 2007, the land trust launched a fundraising effort among its membership and others to make the project a reality. Major grants of $600,000 from the town of Guilford and $892,000 from the State of Connecticut’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program were secured, and the land trust attracted generous funding from the Guilford Foundation, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and many individuals.
“Our loyal membership responded with great generosity to our appeal,” Besse said. “We are grateful that so many partners shared our strong appreciation of this property and contributed to its protection. With open space in our region rapidly diminishing, the land trust took an ambitious step and many others followed with much-needed support.”
Founded in 1965, the land trust has protected nearly 2,800 acres of open space, about 800 of which are in the immediate area of the Broomstick Ledges. The forestland and other unbroken open space in the Bluff Head and Broomstick Ledges area protected by the land trust and others have come to be known as the Northwoods. The land trust has spent $3.5 million and received $1.4 million in State open space grants to protect 21 land parcels in North Guilford. Land trust Treasurer Albert Erda, who negotiated the acquisition of the Broomstick Ledges, noted that people can now walk across North Guilford from its border with North Branford to its border with Madison completely on preserved open space land.