Branford Land Trust seeks to buy section of salt marsh at Medlyn Farm

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BRAFORD – Let the fundraising begin.

The Branford Land Trust must raise $ 1.75 million to buy a ‘rare’ plot containing part of a picturesque salt marsh, part of Medlyn Farm – and it’s more than halfway to achieving its lofty goal .

The Land Trust, in partnership with local environmental groups, is purchasing a 20-acre section of Medlyn Farm south of Highway 146 along the Jarvis Creek Salt Marsh, across from the farm stand.

This preserved property is unique both in the city and on the shore, a member of the land trust and a state official agree.


“There are so few open, flat plots of farmland like this in the city – very few,” said Lauren Brown, a board member for the Land Trust.

“It has beautiful views of the swamp,” she said. “It’s also important for swamp migration as the sea level rises. It will provide a place for the waters of the Sound to go to protect the upstream properties. “

“I would say this is a pretty rare property,” said Brian Thompson, director of the land and water resources division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “There just aren’t a lot of open, undeveloped properties like this on the Connecticut coastline.”

Much of the state’s marshes are obstructed by man-made structures, he noted.

“In many places, the marshes are right by the side of a road or dike – they have nowhere to go when the sea level rises,” Thompson said, adding that the level rise from the sea is “a very slow process”.

The land trust works with the Guilford Land Conservation Trust, DEEP and the Seedlings Foundation.

So far, the Land Trust’s Jarvis Creek Farm fundraising campaign has raised $ 1.15 million, thanks to a $ 500,000 grant for the EPA’s Long Island Sound Improvement. and $ 650,000 from two Branford families.

Raising the remaining $ 600,000 is an “unprecedented effort for the BLT” and it is undertaking a community-wide fundraising effort, according to a spokesperson for the Land Trust.

Calling it an “effort on the bridge,” the purchase is also supported by Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Audubon Society, Friends of Historic Route 146, Guilford Land Conservation Trust, Menunkatuck Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut and Save the Sonner.

Branford has taken steps to protect important properties like this before, Land Trust Chairman Pete Raymond said in a written statement.

He noted that over the years, “our residents have come together to help preserve treasured places,” such as Beacon Hill, Hoadley Creek Reservation, Red Hill Woods, and Supply Ponds and Pisgah Brook Reserves.

The Jarvis Creek salt marsh fields will be a particular attraction for hikers and walkers, according to Brown.

“The woods are beautiful,” she said, but “it’s nice to be outside with the sky above, more places for people to go out and enjoy the outdoors.”

The public greatly appreciates the outdoor spaces the land trust has, Brown noted.

“The pandemic has shown us how much people love the outdoors, for sure,” said Brown, adding that many trails and land trust properties have seen an increase in visitor numbers.

The purchase would also help preserve the natural beauty of Route 146, a state-designated scenic route that is “cherished by many people,” Brown said.

“A lot of the reason it got this designation was because of the views along the route: farms, historic buildings, woods, rock outcrops,” she said.

The purchase of the property, which went on sale in 2020, will protect farmland from impending development, members of the land trust said, and noted that the family had the option of cultivating the land for several years. additional years.

The salt marshes are more than picturesque

Salt marshes “provide essential ecosystem services such as protecting the water quality of estuaries, places of outdoor education, research and outdoor recreation, critical habitat for breeding and breeding. feeding of fish and wildlife; and flood and erosion control, ”DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said in a statement.

Salt marshes like those at Jarvis Creek are essential to coastal resilience and help prevent marshes from “drowning” when sea levels eventually rise, according to Brown.

Preserving non-rocky upland areas allows salt marsh ecosystems to migrate to higher lands, which can help maintain “a healthy amount of marshland and provide these essential ecosystem services,” according to a spokesperson for the land trust.

The Jarvis Creek estuary is also important for many vulnerable species, including the salt marsh sparrow and smooth cordgrass. Those browsing the nearby hiking trail system have reported seeing river otters, American bitterns, glossy ibises, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, American kestrels, ospreys, rattles. swinging, swamp hawks, black-bellied plovers and more.

The property is also part of the Stony Creek section of the heavily trafficked Branford Trail, which allows people to walk from central Stony Creek to the Hoadley Creek Reservation and Stony Creek Quarry and Van Wie, Red Hill Woods and Westwood Reserves. Trails in Guilford, almost entirely on protected open space.

The land is also part of the history of the city. Part of the area originally inhabited by the Totoket and Menunkatuck, indigenous communities of Quinnipiac, the first parcel of what is now Medlyn Farm was acquired by John Rogers in 1758, according to the Land Trust.

The Medlyn family has operated a farm there since 1911, and the farm has been a popular source of fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, and firewood over the years.

Contributions can be made online at www.branfordlandtrust.org, or by sending checks marked “Jarvis Creek Farm” to Branford Land Trust, PO Box 254, Branford, CT 06405. Donations that exceed the fundraising target will be added to the BLT Stewardship Fund, ensuring responsible management BLT properties in perpetuity.

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