Avalonia Land Conservancy has acquired another 64.67 acres in the town of Griswold, adjacent to two other Avalonia properties and a state forest. This newest acquisition, combined with the two other properties, will be known as the Dutka Nature Preserve. “It’s what ties it all together,” said Dennis Main, President of Avalonia. The acquisition will be funded in part by a grant from Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection under their Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant program. Mary Dutka generously offered a bargain sale to help make the acquisition affordable. Although the land was appraised at $250,000, she donated 75% of the acreage to conserve the property forever. Avalonia’s 2,000-Acre Capital Campaign is currently under way to raise the balance, along with other planned acquisitions.
The land’s forested and emergent freshwater wetlands are situated along the Pachaug Pond in sharp contrast to the increasingly-developed balance of the shoreline. A stream runs through the property, and its large native-shrub wetlands support turtles, amphibians and many birds. CT DEEP has installed wood duck boxes on the stream. Bald eagles, owls, and hawks nest in the white pine forest area and a variety of native birds can be observed in the forest and native-shrub area by the pond. Extensive populations of migratory waterfowl utilize the pond in the winter. Fortunately, there are few invasive plants that will need removal. This is one of the last remaining large area in the environs of Pachaug Pond that is undeveloped.
In recent years, Avalonia has followed a strategic plan to acquire properties that border on and expand the reach of other conserved land. “It’s like completing a puzzle,” said Main. The new property is in the Town of Griswold, adjacent to Pachaug State Forest and two Avalonia properties, 17 and 9 acres respectively. This acquisition expands Avalonia’s Dutka Nature Preserve to over 80 acres and the total conserved land (including state land) to over 26,600 acres of greenway, nearly all of which is contiguous. Avalonia’s land also provides access to Pachaug Pond and their preserve on Burton Island. “This is a big win for the residents and visitors to the area,” said Main. “We are grateful to Mary Dutka, who has made it possible to preserve and protect an ecosystem of high habitat value for wildlife and high recreational value for the community, as well as link existing open space and agricultural land adjacent to the property.”