Old Saybrook — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined representatives from the Trust for Public Land and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and about 40 other environmentalists and town officials on Thursday afternoon on a short guided tour of the Preserve in Old Saybrook. The Trust for Public Land is currently working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook to acquire the 1,000-acre forest for public enjoyment and to prevent it from further development.
“I’m thrilled to be here with you today,” said Murphy, “My family, for as long as I’ve been alive, has had a little tiny summer house in Old Lyme so this part of the world is like a second home to me.”
Sen. Murphy took off his office shoes and replaced them with hiking footwear as he joined the rest of the group on the hike through to the middle of the Preserve.
After a short hike, the group reached the center of the 1,000 acre property, overlooking Pequot Swamp. Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, described the swamp as an area of particular environmental significance. “Pequot Swamp is a 113-acre wetland area that feeds two tributaries of the Connecticut River and is an important resting site for migratory birds”, said Cryder.
The Trust for Public Land has been working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Essex, Land Trusts for the three towns, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the State of Connecticut to raise the necessary funds to purchase the property. The Trust hopes to raise $2 million to $3 million in private donations towards the re-negotiated price of $8.1 million. The remaining funds could potentially come from the state and from the town of Old Saybrook, who will be holding a referendum in June when town voters will be asked to vote on the issue. If successful, the land would be owned by the town and would be kept open to the public for hiking and recreation purposes.
“In our office, we eat, sleep and breathe land conservation,” said Murphy, “so this is really exciting when we have a big piece of iconic property like this that, hopefully with a little bit of luck and some good partnership, we can preserve for the ages.”
After returning to the trailhead, the group posed for a photo with Senator Murphy.