Groton Open Space Association acquires 104-acre Sheep Farm South property

Whitney Adams, right, and Richard Dixon, members of the Groton Open Space Association, carry a fallen branch Monday, April 26, 2021, while clearing a pathway at Sheep Farm South in Groton. The 104 acres of trails and wildlife, at the intersection of Flanders Road and Highway 1, is the group’s newest acquisition. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints

Groton – The Groton Open Space Association purchased the 104-acre land South Sheepfold plot on the corner of Flanders Road and Route 1, marking a long-standing preservation goal that fits into the larger picture of open space in Groton.

The property adjoins the existing 63 acres Sheep farm property on Hazelnut Hill Road and across Highway 1 from the 75 Acres Merritt Family Forestwhere people can connect to the 6-mile Interurban trailsaid GOSA President Joan Smith.

The acquisition is part of a larger greenbelt the association has been working on for years, beginning with efforts more than 50 years ago to raise matching funds to preserve the Haley Farm.

Smith said the Sheep Farm South patch is important for its wildlife habitat and its connectivity to other patches for wildlife migration. It is also important for the protection of Fort Hill Brook, which crosses the property and empties into Mumford Cove and Long Island Sound.

The Sheep Farm and Sheep Farm South properties include various fields and shrublands, as well as wetlands and vernal pools, she said. The beautiful properties, with rocky outcrops and ledges, are rich in birds and wildlife.

GOSA closed the property last week and members gathered there to celebrate the purchase and help clear the trails.

Smith said GOSA had been interested in the land since 2006, when it was the subject of an active development of housing for adult seniors with more than 200 units, which the organization considered to be overuse. for the property.

She said GOSA stepped in and tried to make improvements to the app, but were unsuccessful. The project was never built amid the economic downturn and later the developer’s option on the property expired, she said, so GOSA then started buying it.

“It’s a long time coming,” Smith said.

She said the purchase price was $1 million. The organization has raised funds from foundations and individual donors and received a grant from the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Open Spaces and Watershed Acquisition Grant Program. and is in the process of receiving a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

She said GOSA would then work on improving the property, including upgrading an existing trail, which was a historic route, and developing a trail plan. She mentioned that the state has studied the archeology of the property and that there are historical artifacts, remnants of the Pequot war.

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Groton Open Space Association member Richard Dixon works clearing trails Monday, April 26, 2021 at Sheep Farm South in Groton. The 104 acres of trails and wildlife, at the intersection of Flanders Road and Highway 1, is the group’s newest acquisition. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
Members of the Groton Open Space Association, left to right, President Joan Smith, Marie Goe Olson and Bruce Jones work clearing a trail Monday, April 26, 2021 at Sheep Farm South in Groton. The 104 acres of trails and wildlife, at the intersection of Flanders Road and Highway 1, is the group’s newest acquisition. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
A map of Sheep Farm South in Groton. The 104 acres of trails and wildlife, at the intersection of Flanders Road and Route 1, is the Groton Open Space Association’s newest acquisition. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints