Land trust seeks permission to build hiking trails in Monroe

Land trust advocates in southwestern Connecticut have acquired a small tract of land in Monroe to preserve its biodiversity and are calling on city officials to let them build hiking trails in the surrounding area.

The Aspetuck Land Trust paid $20,000 to buy Boy Scouts of America’s 7.8 acres Connecticut Yankees Board last month. The regional council previously kept the land as unused space, according to spokesman Bob Brown. Council sold Camp Pomperaug to Union earlier this year to help pay its estimated share of an $850 million sexual abuse settlement to settle tens of thousands of abuse claims against the national organization, and another camp to Killingworth to fund activities such as hiking and boating, Brown said.

The purchase is Aspetuck Land Trust’s first in Monroe since its merger with Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy last year. The merger expanded the work of the conservation group, which primarily took place in Fairfield, Westport, Easton and Weston.

Last year, the Connecticut Yankee Council asked Aspetuck Land Trust if it wanted to buy the parcel, said land trust board member Barbara Thomas. Adam Goodman, the group’s land protection specialist, said the land – located at 38 route de Guinée – is surrounded by other undeveloped areas.

“When you connect a group of open spaces together, you preserve a larger area of ​​open space,” Goodman said.

Goodman added that the land is beautiful too. “There’s a little pond there, it’s got some really cool topographic ridges, some nice rock faces,” he said.

The land trust wants to build hiking trails on its new property, but it can only be accessed through land owned by the City of Monroe. The group therefore met with local officials to obtain permission to build hiking trails in the surrounding area to access their newly acquired land.

“We wanted to work with them to get the public to enjoy this property,” Goodman said.

Monroe residents could volunteer to maintain the trails and remove any invasive plants growing in the area, Thomas said.

“If we eventually put trails on this property, it tends to open up more opportunities for invasive plants to enter because people are unknowingly following the seeds on their shoes,” Thomas said.

The land trust has not yet conducted a wildlife survey of the area, but Goodman said the surrounding pond, wetlands and forests allow plant and animal species to thrive in the area.

“There are a lot of different environments, all in a small area. And it all contributes to biodiversity and wildlife habitat,” Goodman said. “A duck would love a pond, but a snake would love the woods, all the different things help each other.”

Monroe First Selectman Kenneth Kellogg said his administration plans to work with the land trust to develop a draft agreement for the city council to approve to allow the group to build hiking trails. He said officials have yet to set a tentative date for that vote.

[email protected], @AndyTsubasaF