Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy formed in April 2023 from the merger of East Granby Land Trust, West Hartford Land Trust, and Wintonbury Land Trust in Bloomfield. With a regional approach and shared resources, we look forward to helping our communities protect the environment, preserve local farms, and connect residents with the outdoors from the ridgeline to the rivers.
This blog will provide updates on the merger process as we get things organized. Jump to the bottom to get involved by becoming a member, donating, or volunteering. Or click on the logos below to visit each original land trust website for more information on how our members and volunteers are hard at work on conservation projects and education events.
Board of Directors Meeting: Wednesday, September 27, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, Bloomfield Human Services Center, 330 Park Ave. You’re welcome to attend to learn about the organization or to get more involved.
An Evening of Celebration & Appreciation: Sunday, October 1, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Wintonbury Hills Golf Course. Join us to celebrate the merger and get to know neighbors who share your passion for the environment, farmland, and the outdoors. Register by September 15.
Passive recreational trails have been developed on properties where the impact on soils, wetlands, and wildlife will be minimal, and the Land Conservancy welcomes and encourages public visitors. Here are quick links to trail descriptions on our original websites:
Visitor Guidelines | Great Marsh in East Granby | Griffin Marsh in East Granby | Hawk Hill Farm in Bloomfield | Pond Meadow in East Granby | Speer Preserve in Bloomfield | Stout Family Fields in Bloomfield | Van Otterloo Preserve in Bloomfield |
On April 10, 2023, Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy was established with plans to help our communities protect the environment, preserve local farming and connect residents with the outdoors. This completes the legal steps of a merger process set in motion when members of East Granby Land Trust, West Hartford Land Trust, and Bloomfield’s Wintonbury Land Trust voted earlier this year to combine forces.
Amanda Thompson, President of the Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy board of directors and President of the former East Granby Land Trust said, “Our land trusts served important roles preserving open space to maintain the character and quality of life residents enjoy in our communities. The formation of Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy will help the region better promote farmland, waterways, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and education for the benefit of current and future generations.”
The land trust’s mission is to conserve, improve and study the region’s natural resources for the public’s benefit, including the traprock ridge shared by the three towns and the Farmington River and Park River watersheds. The merger plan honors restrictions on how previously donated lands can be used and continues projects already underway in each town. Members and volunteers now protect a combined 47 properties totaling 637 acres that include numerous nature preserves, four working farms, community gardens and education programs.
Pooling Resources to Boost and Sustain Efforts
Victor Herson, President of the former Wintonbury Land Trust in Bloomfield and a member of the new land trust board said, “We are excited to join forces with our neighbors and strengthen efforts to conserve land and connect people with nature. Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy will provide the foundation for efficiencies and expanding resources that ensure sustainability and success in the future.”
David Sagers, Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy’s Treasurer and President of the former West Hartford Land Trust, added, “The merger is the culmination of almost two years of collaboration and planning to increase the sustainability of land acquisition and conservation in our community. This brings together a larger group of like-minded supporters to significantly increase our impact on the environment across the region.”
Forging the Partnership
Leaders from the three land trusts began exploring opportunities to work together in 2021 during workshops with the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. The Council provides training and recommends policies to ensure the long-term viability of land conservation efforts in the state.
The land trusts received a grant from The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation to study the feasibility of merging and to develop a plan. Representatives worked with Sharon Danosky, president and owner of the Danosky & Associates consulting firm, and Ed Spinella, chair of the tax-exempt organizations group at the law offices of Murtha Cullina. The Pro Bono Partnership also provided free legal services from Donna Brooks and Tyler Archer at Shipman & Goodwin and Matthew Schernecke, Zohra Sayedy, Aafke Pronk, Rob Cortinas, and Ronald Silverman at Hogan Lovells.
Aaron Lefland, Deputy Director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, noted, “Land trusts make a promise to conserve land in perpetuity. East Granby, West Hartford and Wintonbury Land Trusts have demonstrated their commitment to upholding that promise by coming together to form a stronger, more enduring organization.”
Bob Canace, Senior Program Officer at The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, added, “The Foundation congratulates the East Granby, West Hartford and Wintonbury Land Trusts for having the vision to map out a new future that will take advantage of each organization’s history, enthusiasm and vision to continue protecting natural areas and offering community-based programs.”
Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy’s new board of directors met for the first time on April 26 in Bloomfield. Members of the merging land trusts elected directors and officers from each of the three towns, including student directors from East Granby Land Trust’s internship program.
Members and volunteers will organize new committees for Land Acquisition, Land Conservation, Education & Outreach, Fundraising & Membership, Governance, and Finance. To volunteer for a committee or make a contribution, use the forms at the bottom.
In August 2022 the three land trust boards began formally studying the feasibility of forming a regional land trust. We confidentially shared details about one another’s property records, financials, and operations and negotiated how to structure the new organization. Highlights of the proposal included:
We were assisted by Sharon Danosky, president of Danosky & Associates, and Ed Spinella, chair of the tax-exempt organizations group at Murtha Cullina. The Pro Bono Partnership also provided free legal services from Donna Brooks and Tyler Archer at Shipman & Goodwin and Matthew Schernecke, Zohra Sayedy, Aafke Pronk, Rob Cortinas, and Ronald Silverman at Hogan Lovells.
In recent years the Connecticut Land Conservation Council and Farmington River Watershed Association hosted regional summits and workshops to help conservation leaders strengthen the impact and sustainability of our work. Increasingly East Granby Land Trust, West Hartford Land Trust, and Wintonbury Land Trust leaders observed our organizations had a lot in common.
In 2021 we received a grant from The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation and enlisted the help of Danosky & Associates to explore the potential mutual benefits of forming a regional land trust. Through a series of educational, get-to-know one another, and brainstorm sessions, our leaders concluded that we:
We invite you to contribute to these land conservation efforts or to become a new member. Traprock Ridge Land Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation. Online donations are processed securely via STRIPE.
We also welcome your questions, appreciate your suggestions, and invite you to volunteer for one of our committees – land conservation, land acquisition, education and outreach, fundraising and membership, or finance. Please contact us below.
Photos from top to bottom: First meeting of the new Board of Directors, members gather in Bloomfield after the vote approving the plan of merger, Griffin Marsh in East Granby, Hawk Hill Farm in Bloomfield, Pond Meadow in East Granby, Pond Meadow Trail in East Granby, Sinnot Farm-The Knoll in Bloomfield, Still Road Preserve in West Hartford, Stout Family Fields in Bloomfield, Great Marsh in East Granby, and Speer Preserve in Bloomfield.
Photos provided by Paula Jones, Aaron Lefland, Amanda Thompson, Alexa Tzanova, and each of the Land Trusts.
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