State, federal, local groups pull together to protect 300-acre DeLuca property in Cornwall, Falls Village
By TIM ABBOTT
November, 06, 2008
CORNWALL — The 304.4-acre Deluca property in Cornwall and Falls Village has been protected from development with federal Highlands Conservation Act funds.
The Highlands includes properties in four states, including Connecticut.
The property provides an additional 2,700 feet of protected frontage along the Upper Housatonic River Trout Management area. This increases recreational opportunities and opportunities for improving water quality. It also expands the Housatonic State Forest and creates a contiguous tract of 1,000 acres that is habitat for migratory songbirds. The tract serves as an important wildlife corridor connecting large conservation areas on both sides of the river.
The property includes 221.84 acres in Cornwall and 82.56 acres in Falls Village.
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy said, “The acquisition of the DeLuca property was an especially important addition to the state’s open space holdings. This property expands on existing protected land in the area and aids our efforts to enhance the quality of the Housatonic River. The purchase was possible only with the financial support DEP received from the Cornwall Conservation Trust and the Federal Highlands Fund. This is a perfect example of the types of partnerships we need to build to succeed in meeting this state’s open space goals.”
“The closing on this property represents the culmination of focused efforts at every level of government to achieve a gigantic victory for conservation” said state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-30). “The cooperation that led to this success should be emulated at every opportunity as we continue working to keep Litchfield County the special place that it is.”
“Timing is everything” said Cornwall First Selectman Gordon Ridgway. “We were just lucky to have a motivated seller and that the state had the resources to put toward protecting this unique property.”
Falls Village First Selectman Pat Mechare said, “This acquisition by the state continues a conservation trend for the town of Canaan [Falls Village] of having one of the highest rates of land protection in the state.”
Funding to protect the Deluca property came from local, state and federal sources. Most of the $3.4 million purchase came from Department of Environmental Protection through its Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program. Since 1986 this fund has been the DEP’s primary program for acquiring land to expand the state’s system of parks, forests, wildlife and other natural open spaces.
The non-profit Cornwall Conservation Trust contributed $100,000 in privately raised donations to this project.
“CCT and its donors are delighted to have brought some local, private funds to this important project in the Housatonic watershed and are glad to be a part of a ‘first’ for the Highlands,” said Hector Prud’Homme, president of the trust. “Whenever another opportunity arises, we will again join forces with public funding sources to protect precious open space for the benefit of future generations.”
In addition, about $500,000 was awarded through the Federal Highlands Fund. These Highlands Conservation Act funds are the first to be secured by Connecticut since the act went into effect in 2004.
“Now more than ever, when conservation dollars are so hard to come by, projects like these are practically impossible without multiple sources of funding,” said Elaine LaBella, co-chair of the Connecticut State Committee of the Highlands Coalition. “The fact that $500,000 in federal funding leveraged nearly six times that amount in state and private resources for the Deluca project shows how important it is for Congress to fully fund the Highlands.”
Although authorized for up to $100 million over 10 years, the federal Highland’s Fund has only received $3.75 million since 2004 to allocate among projects in the Highlands.
The Highlands Coalition is a four-state alliance of nearly 200 nonprofit, municipal, state and federal organizations working collaboratively to protect vitally important natural resources across 3.5 million acres under federal recognition in the Highlands of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Tim Abbott is program director of Housatonic Valley Association’s Litchfield Hills Greenprint, and is one of The Journal’s two Nature’s Notebook correspondents. He is a chairman of the Connecticut State Committee of the Highlands Coalition, along with Elaine LaBella of the Housatonic Valley Association.
© Copyright 2008 by TCExtra.com
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