Groton – The Groton Open Space Association has purchased the 104-acre Sheep Farm South plot at the corner of Flanders Road and Route 1, marking a long-standing preservation goal that fits within the larger framework of open spaces in Groton .
The property abuts the existing 63-acre Sheep Farm property on Hazelnut Hill Road and is across Route 1 from the 75-acre Merritt Family Forest, where people can connect to the 6-mile Cross-Town Trail, said GOSA President Joan Smith.
The acquisition is part of a larger green belt that the association has been working on for years, starting with efforts over 50 years ago to raise matching funds to preserve the Haley farm.
Smith said the Sheep Farm South plot is important for its wildlife habitat and connectivity with other plots for wildlife migration. It is also important for the protection of Fort Hill Creek, which crosses the property and empties into Mumford Cove and Long Island Sound.
The Sheep Farm and Sheep Farm South properties feature various fields and shrub lands, as well as wetlands and spring pools, she said. The beautiful properties, with rocky outcrops and a ledge, 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 has been interested in the land since 2006, when it was the subject of an active senior housing development project with more than 200 units, which the organization considered too heavy use for the area. property.
She said GOSA stepped in and tried to make improvements to the app, but was unsuccessful. The project was never built in the midst of 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 Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Open Land and Watershed Acquisition Grants program.
She said GOSA will then work on improving the property, including upgrading an existing trail, which was a historic road, and developing a trail plan. She mentioned that the state has studied the archeology of the property and that there were historical artefacts, vestiges of the Pequot war.