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October 19, 2022

Old Saybrook Land Trust Working to Protect a Vital Tidal Wetland

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The Old Saybrook Land Trust reached an agreement in August 2022 to purchase 11 acres of land on Ayers Point for $297,000.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission, considering the importance of the land’s preservation, voted unanimously to provide the land trust with up to $60,000 in funds to match those raised by a local campaign.

The property abuts 20 acres owned by the Town of Old Saybrook and the state-owned Ferry Point Marsh Wildlife Management Area’s 50 acres that include Hydes Point Creek.

The Ayes Point property contains brackish, tidally flooded lowland that represents a rare opportunity for marsh migration along Connecticut’s increasingly developed shoreline. The property could be managed to allow the increasingly threatened high marsh natural community to keep ahead of rising sea levels, and in so doing provide critical habitat for declining wildlife species.

The property and surrounding marsh support saltmarsh nesting birds including marsh wrens, willets belted kingfishers, bitterns, Virginia and clapper rails, yellowthroat warblers, and saltmarsh sparrows. It is used during migration and in the winter by American black ducks, mallards, gadwall, and the American green-winged teal. Up to 10,000 blackbirds, including Red-Wing, Grackle, Rusty, and occasionally Yellow-headed Black Birds have been observed during winter bird counts on this land.

 

The Old Saybrook Land Trust

The Old Saybrook Land Trust celebrates its 25th year in 2022. It incorporated in 1997 as a means to address the availability of 1000 acres in the northern forested portion of the town by the Lyons family. The Land Trust was an active partner in the community and region-wide effort to protect this unique parcel. It’s first large land acquisition (350 acres) protected the Gleason property (Great Cedars) followed by a companion acquisition (Great Cedars East). Two fishways were built on the Oyster River tributaries (yielding on of the largest concentrations of migrating eels in the state).

The Land Trust in recent years has acquired and received a variety of tracts that are now managed both with the town and through a dedicated and active volunteer LT stewardship group. The Ayers Point acquisition, located in the Gateway Conservation Zone off the Connecticut River, is the most recent parcel that the Trust is devoting its time and energy to, with the assistance of the Gateway Commission.

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