Land Conservation is a Key Gateway Commission Goal
The CT River Gateway Commission is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the lower Connecticut River valley. It accomplishes this, in part, by either purchasing land or land protection agreements, and by assisting others in doing so.
One of the first committees established by the Gateway Commission was the Land Committee. It stays in touch with towns, land trusts and land owners, and recommends possible purchases or the support of others’ purchases to protect the natural beauty of the Gateway Conservation Zone.
The full Commission acts on the Committee’s land protection recommendations. Land Committee agendas and minutes are available online.
Important Land to Protect
Each parcel of land is considered individually by the Commission, based on criteria that support our preservation mission in the Zone. These include, but are not limited to:
- Property that protects scenic views from the river and from its opposite shore and tributaries;
- Property with historic features;
- Property next to already protected land, such that owned by the state, towns, land trusts or other non-profit conservation organizations;
- Property identified as important for protection by state, regional or town plans of conservation and development;
- Land that protects rare or endangered species or significant wildlife habitat;
- Property suitable for non-intensive recreational use, such as hiking, scenic viewing, and fishing or boat access by the public.
Although the Commission has played a part in conserving over 1,000 acres in the Zone, it does not hold land itself. The final step of our assistance in protecting land is to transfer the property or land use agreements to other entities such as the State of Connecticut, a member town, a local land trust or other recognized non-profit organizations.
In addition to playing a lead in land acquisition, the Commission may assist others seeking to protect land in the Zone by providing funds for related needs, such as real estate appraisals. The Commission may also write letters of support for grant applicants or endorse fundraising drives.
Partnerships in land protection are particularly appealing to the Commission.
In its “hillside project” in Haddam Neck, the Commission worked cooperatively with the Middlesex Land Trust and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the latter’s Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge within its Salmon River area. Several properties were conserved on a highly visible ridge overlooking the river, prominently visible from Haddam Meadows State Park across the river.
Connecticut’s Largest Island is in Lyme
Selden Island on the east side of the Connecticut River was created in 1854 by storm runoff that separated it from mainland Lyme. At 604 acres, it is the largest Connecticut island. Once a farm and later a stone quarry that produced red granite schist for paving, today it contains Selden Neck State Park which is only accessible by boat — as the state’s sole island state park.