The Watershed Center is pleased to announce that it has finalized the purchase of 194 acres of wild forest and endangered species habitat on the western border of Bristol. The landmark acquisition of the so-called Middle Forest unites the organization’s two existing conservation parcels to create a contiguous 946-acre community preserve for education and recreation and was made possible by a successful summer fundraising campaign.
The purchase marks the culmination of a community-wide process begun last January, when former owners Jason and Nina Bacon of New Haven offered the parcel to the Watershed Center for a price some 50% below market value. On June 1, the organization launched the Wildlands Project, a summer-long campaign to raise $34,935, the funds necessary to acquire the property. That campaign successfully concluded on August 25th with the Bristol Selectboard’s approval of a Bristol Conservation Commission request to contribute $5,000 in Conservation Reserve Funds for the project, an amount that allowed the Wildlands Project to meet its goal.
“Everything came together quickly to make this purchase possible,” said Watershed Center president Scott Hamshaw. “We could not have acquired this forest without the generosity of the Bacons, who have long been supporters of The Watershed Center and have worked for years towards conserving the land and protecting the wonderful habitat it provides for endangered species such as the Indiana bat. We couldn’t have done it without the town of Bristol giving us that final boost, and above all we have to thank the community, which quickly answered the call and helped us take advantage of this great .
“We had a few big donations, but the majority of the funds we raised came in small amounts from individuals, families, and local organizations. It was a truly local effort, and we’re extremely grateful not just for the 120 different contributors but for what that community support represents.”
The purchase of the Middle Forest, which once separated the Watershed Center’s two existing holdings, the Lost Pond Forest and the Waterworks Property, will now allows the organization to combine its properties, create a comprehensive trail network, and unify the separate conserved properties and create a community resource nearly 1,000 acres in size.
Equally importantly, the acquisition places a variety of irreplaceable natural features under maximum protection, including unique geology, hydrological resources, mature forest, wild meadowlands, Native American historical sites, and habitat for rare and endangered species like the eastern rat snake and the Indiana bat.