Land Easements

Across the country, conservation easements have become the most popular method of protecting land. Easements allow landowners to maintain private ownership while permanently protecting the conservation values of their lands forever. Weantinoge is a national leader in the development of conservation easements that serve to preserve family lands, protect natural systems, and safeguard the land, air, and water. Once an easement is consummated, we serve as an active partner with the landowner to ensure that the terms of the easement are carried out forever.

From the wildlands atop Canaan Mountain in Falls Village, to the historic Milton Village Sanctuary in Litchfield, to the Potter Farm in Washington, Weantinoge’s 177 conservation easement partnerships have protected more than five thousand acres and some of the most spectacular natural areas and working farmland in Northwest Connecticut.

Here is a selection of eight of the properties that we’ve come to preserve and protect over our 51-year history:

Wiseman Preserve, Canaan Mountain, Falls Village
Preserve Acres: 514

Situated within the Canaan Mountain conservation area, the largest roadless area in Connecticut at about twenty two thousand acres, the Wiseman Preserve’s five hundred thirty five acres includes some of the most stunning forestland in the region. Soaring eastern hemlocks, white pines, and hardwoods mix with wetlands, streams, and vernal pools in a core area that serves as source habitat for wildlife in the Southern Berkshires. A gift of the visionary Wiseman family over several years, the sanctuary is functionally and structurally complex. It harbors all of the region’s predators along with the recently returned moose, the tallest mammal in North America. Snowshoe hare and a wide variety of disturbance-sensitive species find refuge here away from human activity. The preserve has the oldest trees in Weantinoge’s catalog. Some of them exceed three hundred years in age. It is a wild and beautiful place reminiscent of Northern New England.

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Whippoorwill Farm and the Salmon Kill River, Salisbury
Preserve Acres: 196

The MacLaren Conservation Easement at Whippoorwill Farm is a dramatic mixed forest, farm, and river mosaic. It covers 135- acres on Farnum Road in Salisbury in a setting that exemplifies the rural beauty of Northwest Connecticut. Over seventy acres of USDA conservation-class farmland soils are found within the easement that also protects over three thousand feet of the Salmon Kill River. The easement covers agricultural land farmed by Allen and Robin Cockerline, who produce natural, grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken (both delicious and healthy) that is sold to the local community at a roadside stand on Salmon Kill Road. Whippoorwill Farm is part of a marble-influenced ecosystem and the easement also preserves fifty acres of upland wetlands including a dramatic yellow birch-red maple-hemlock swamp. Weantinoge is proud to be a partner with Linda, Julie, and Malcolm MacLaren, a conservation-minded family with a long history of farming and service to the community.  

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Wojan Bright Woods Sanctuary, Cornwall
Preserve Acres: 14

Perched on the steep and topographically complex northern reach of Whitcomb Hill, Weantinoge’s Bright Woods Sanctuary is Phyllis Wojan’s gift to the people of Northwest Connecticut. The easement includes over one thousand feet of Gunn Hill Brook, an important tributary of the Upper Housatonic River and a fine trout stream. The property is a true, functional wildlife refuge. Phyllis has documented the presence of over seventy-six species of birds on the property, including red-headed woodpeckers and sharp-shinned hawks, both of which are on the Endangered Species List. Cooper’s hawks, a threatened Species, have also been sighted here. Her mammal list encompasses thirty species, including the Least Shrew, the only endangered mammal in Connecticut; this may be the most northerly recorded observation of this species. Phyllis’ animal list also includes eleven species of amphibians and five reptile species. These observations best testify to the rich biodiversity of the tract.

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Harrison Forever Wild Preserve, South Kent
Preserve Acres: 125

The Harrison Preserve is Weantinoge’s first Forever Wild conservation easement. Located on Treasure Hill in South Kent, the 125-acre preserve protects century-old trees that will never be subjected to logging or other human disturbance. It is a place where nature alone will guide the forest’s development. The old and large trees of the Harrison Preserve are invaluable as reservoirs for genetic diversity, seed sources for forest regeneration, and refuges for old-growth-dependent wildlife.

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Rebekah’s Hill Sanctuary, Goshen
Preserve Acres: 83

Rebekah’s Hill Sanctuary is an 83-acre conservation easement in rural northeastern Goshen. It is a large forest matrix in the vicinity of the largest roadless landscape in Connecticut. Rebekah’s Hill is important for its diverse woodland habitats, provision of ecosystem services, and outstanding scenic value, all nurtured over many decades by the Rosenberg Family.

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McDonald Housatonic River Preserve, Falls Village
Preserve Acres: 20

The McDonald Housatonic River Preserve is a twenty-acre conservation easement that protects over 1000 feet of riverfront on the Housatonic. It is located on the western slope of a ridge that separates the upper Robbins Swamp basin from river. The preserve is a beautiful and compact mosaic of bottomland, stream, meadow, agricultural, and forestland compartments. The riverside area is subject to the natural lotic disturbance regime of periodic flooding, scouring, and deposition, all of which contribute to the abundance of soils of conservation significance found on the easement and beyond. Artist and donor Dale McDonald’s love for the land is evident in her attentive stewardship of the preserve.

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Milton Village Forest, Litchfield
Preserve Acres: 89

The Milton Village Forest is a 90-acre conservation easement in the center of historic Milton. A gift of the Nickoll Family, the property was rescued from development and is now a Forever Wild preserve that permanently protects the scenic center and approaches to the village. The sanctuary is situated on a glacial drumlin draped with extensive eastern hemlock, eastern white pine, and northern hardwoods and includes a 10-acre mixed open and shrub swamp. The most interesting forest floor is punctuated by outcrops, boulders, tipover mounds, decaying logs, and wetland interspersions. The site was in the path of the Northeastern United States Tornado Outbreak of 1989 and evidence of its impact is present, where scattered individual trees tower over the recovering landscape. The affected stands add significant structural and functional diversity to the site and serves as evidence of nature’s resilience. Thanks to Ben and Chrissy Nickoll, the Milton Village Forest is one of Weantinoge’s most ecologically and aethetically important preserves.

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Revesz-Been Wildlife Sanctuary, Salisbury
Preserve Acres: 65

The Revesz-Been Wildlife Sanctuary on Brinton Hill is a Forever Wild easement that captures an ecologically significant upland forest on a mountain rampart on the west bank of the Housatonic River. Brinton Hill is notable for its bedrock geology, having been the subject of intensive study by J.D. Dana in 1885 as reported in his Taconic Rocks and Stratigraphy. The mountain rises approximately 530 feet above the limestone plain of the Housatonic. The parcel harbors several forest types from dry-upland, lowbush blueberry-filled ridgelines dominated by chestnut oak and eastern white pine to rich lowslope patches of majestic sugar maples and northern red oak. The preserve is highly visible from surrounding lowlands and the ridgeline views to the south and west across the Housatonic Valley are breathtaking. The Trust is pleased to partner with Richard Revesz and Vicki Been in permanently protecting this special place.

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