Hilltop Forest Protected: Hallock Hills Nature Preserve

In September, two generous landowners donated 128 acres of hilltop forestland in northern New Milford. The property, known as Hallock Hills, is part of the town of New Milford’s early history.  The “Ten Rod Road” which traverses northern New Milford from Browns Forge Road to near Lake Waramaug, runs through the property which was part of the original “North Purchase” tract.  The North Purchase included over 7,500 acres the colonists purchased from the Potatuck tribe in the early 1700s, around the time that New Milford gained township status.  The North Purchase included an area of land between the Housatonic River and Lake Waramaug, a swath about 1.6 miles x 6.5 miles.  And a significant portion of the North Purchase was claimed by both Kent and New Milford, with New Milford eventually prevailing.

This newly created nature preserve adds to over 350 contiguous acres protected by Weantinoge, which run from the western shore of Mud Pond to near the top of Rock Cobble Hill, a landmark visible from as far south as Weantinoge’s Smyrski Farm Preserve in Merryall.

Hallock Hills Preserve and other large blocks of forest, unbroken by roads, are important for public recreation, clean water, and wildlife. Familiar animals like bobcats, coyotes, and owls thrive in these large forested areas, as well as lesser known birds like wood thrush, cerulean warbler, and red-shouldered hawks; and plants such as rattlesnake plantain, pink ladyslippers, and Indian pipe. In the property’s vernal pools, we hope to find Jefferson salamanders, which are on the endangered species list, and other amphibians. Protecting these large forests is vital to safeguarding Northwest Connecticut’s land, air, and water for people and wildlife.

In the remaining months of 2018, Weantinoge is working with another eight landowners to conserve an additional 200 acres of forest and farmland in Litchfield County. Much of this land is adjacent to already protected forests and will expand the natural lands permanently conserved. Stay tuned for more conservation success stories to come!

Bobcats of New Milford

In 2017, Connecticut’s Department of Environment and Energy (DEEP) began a study to determine how the state’s bobcats meet their needs in both rural and suburban environments, and understand the overall health of the population.
From the fall of 2017 to early winter 2018, the Wildlife Division of DEEP live-trapped bobcats across the state. These bobcats were marked with yellow ear tags and 50 were fitted with GPS (global positioning system) collars. Biologists also collected important data from each bobcat, including weight, age, and sex.
Of the 50 bobcats fitted with collars, three were found in New Milford; two females and one male. Over the past few months, the collars have transmitted GPS locations to biologists, creating a map of the home ranges of these bobcats. All three New Milford bobcats were tracked on Weantinoge land.One female’s home range encompasses Bear Hill, the highest point in New Milford and an area protected by Weantinoge and the Town. These home range maps highlight how bobcats are using wildlife corridors and in turn illustrate the importance of conserving land.
All of the collars were programmed to automatically detach on August 1, 2018, and DEEP’s Wildlife Division staff will be working to recover the collars (which will still be transmitting signals). If you happen to find a collar during a walk in the woods, please contact the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3045 or deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov.