Success Stories

Brainerd Quarry Cliffs, Haddam Neck, Kathleen DeMeo

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A Flipping Success

50 Acres • Haddam Neck

Partners: Middlesex County Land Trust, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Hiking through history

Gateway group on a hike

Members of the CT River Gateway Commission on a group hike.

A creative partnership between the CT River Gateway Commission, a land trust and the federal government has protected highly visible land in Haddam Neck.

As part of what’s been described as the “hillside project,” the CT River Gateway Commission has partnered to preserve land in Haddam Neck that is very visible from both the Connecticut River and its far shore, including from Haddam Meadows State Park.

Both the Gateway Commission, in the Zone, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in its Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge Salmon River Division, have been committed to protecting land in the same general neighborhood.

The federal government, with ample budget funds, sought to expand the Conte refuge, but in some cases could not act quickly enough when property came onto the real estate market.

The Commission partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Middlesex Land Trust in an innovative effort to achieve all three organizations’ conservation goals.

The Brainerd Quarry Preserve was bought to be sold.

large boulders

Brainerd Quarry granite

A grant of $166,000 from the Commission was advanced to the Middlesex Land Trust, which negotiated for the purchase of the long-abandoned Brainerd Quarry site and closed the sale. The land trust then sold the property to USFWS to add to its refuge. When proceeds from that 2nd sale were received some time later, the land trust reimbursed the Commission. Resources were then used to replicate this model for other prominent Haddam Neck hillside properties.

In place of potentially highly visible development, likely requiring widespread tree removal, the 50-acre Brainerd Quarry Preserve in Haddam Neck is today a permanently protected nature preserve. Its hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its industrial history dating back to the 17th century as a quarry for building stone and to also enjoy fabulous views of the Connecticut River and its shorelines from cliffsides.

As you walk the Brainerd Quarry Preserve trails, you’ll see various rock facades where workers hundreds of years ago tackled outcroppings to cut away valuable granite without the benefit of today’s heavy machinery. It’s a wonderful chance to enjoy nature, marvel at Connecticut’s history, and admire extraordinary views.

All in all, Brainerd Quarry is a success story and win-win for the Commission, the USFWS, Middlesex Land Trust, and most importantly of all, Connecticut residents and visitors.

The Gateway Commission stands ready to help towns, conservation organizations, and land trusts protect scenic property within the Zone. Please contact us at for more information.


aerial of 50 acres

a different view

trail map