Haley Farm State Park
GOSA, first organized in the late 1960’s as the “Save the Haley Farm Committee,” successfully opposed a 250-unit duplex housing project proposed for the site. GOSA raised matching funds and encouraged the state to establish the 200-acre Haley Farm State Park in 1970; 57 additional acres were added in 2002. Haley Farm is beloved by all with its many trails, magnificent transverse stone walls, and spectacular views of Palmer Cove and Fishers Island Sound. The interior fields and forest provide habitat. GOSA remains a loyal friend to Haley Farm, providing stewardship services, an annual Earth Day clean-up with the help of volunteers from the Navy, UConn, Scouts, Avalonia Land Conservancy, and others. GOSA has funded the annual field mowing since 1986. Click here for a map.
Address: Haley Farm Lane, Groton
Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve
Like Haley Farm before it, Bluff Point, a 780+ acre peninsula extending into Long Island Sound, was threatened by an alarming variety of development proposals. In 1972 GOSA joined the Bluff Point Advisory Council to promote the “highest and best use” of this last remaining piece of undeveloped land and dune ecosystem along the Connecticut coastline. The state park and coastal reserve established by the council in 1975 today attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually as it provides access to multiple pristine beaches, saltwater recreation activities, and miles of hiking and biking trails for the people of eastern CT. A pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks joins Bluff Point and Haley Farm, connecting over 1,000 acres of open space. Click here for a map. Address: Depot Rd, Groton
The Merritt Family Forest
After successfully applying for a state grant and raising matching funds, in 2008 GOSA purchased the 75-acre Merritt Family Forest, which extends from the top of Fort Hill along Route 1 to Fishtown Road. The Merritt Family Forest is a keystone to Groton’s eastern greenbelt and protects a section of Eccleston Brook upstream of Palmer’s Cove and Long Island Sound. Red cedar, beech, oak and other majestic trees provide a stately beauty for all to enjoy on its connecting trails, brooks, and through diverse wildlife habitats.
Click here for a map.
Address: Fishtown Rd., Groton. Entrance is 400 feet south of Route 1 where an historic bridge, comprised of three giant stone slabs, spans Eccleston Brook.
The Sheep Farm
GOSA purchased this 63-acre, colonial-era farm on Hazelnut Hill Road in 2010 with the help of state and local grant programs, foundations and individuals. The property’s outstanding historic sites and rugged natural setting make this an ideal outdoor classroom for school, college, and nature center programs. It features old foundations and a grist mill dam, colonial stone walls and boundary stone heaps noted on a 1754 deed, meadows, thickets, forest, rocky ridges, two waterfalls, Fort Hill Brook, and numerous vernal pools. Click here to see our Sheep Farm slideshow and here to read an article from the Hartford Courant about the Farm. Protection of this site enhances the water quality of Fort Hill Brook, Mumford Cove, and Long Island Sound.
GOSA purchased Candlewood Ridge in June, 2013. This 91-acre property was purchased to protect the diverse and rare habitats and flora and fauna found within its borders. Leaving the property in an undisturbed state will protect downstream areas from development runoff and improve flood control in the Haley Brook watershed area.
The land features trails through a mountain laurel understory and an oak-hickory forest, as well as streams, bogs and a poor fen, a Connecticut critical habitat. Turtles, shore birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals flourish in this diverse habitat, which boasts extensive tussock sedge wetlands, forested peat lands, vernal pools, boulder fields and scenic rocky ridgelines.
With the backing of various federal and state entities, in 2016 GOSA completed a multi-year project to restore a 31-acre site (in the area where Candlewood Ridge borders Avery Farm) to the shrubby habitat preferred by the New England cottontail and 47 other at-risk species.
Candlewood Ridge is part of a greenbelt of almost 400 acres of undeveloped land extending well into Ledyard. Click here to read more about Candlewood Ridge.
Address: Candlewood Ridge is located off Lambtown Road in Groton near the Ledyard border. Directions: Turn onto Lambtown Road from 184 or Gold Star Highway. Go through the stop sign and bear left at the vee. Second driveway on left after Quaker Farm Road stop sign.
Avery Farm Nature Preserve
Called one of the most biologically diverse and valuable conservation sites in eastern Connecticut, this beautiful, 305-acre parcel of land straddling the Groton-Ledyard border is truly an environmental gem.
At the center of Avery Farm, old fields provide rare grassland habitat and frame the picturesque 1775 colonial home retained by the seller. On the eastern side, Haley Brook runs under an old stone bridge, flowing east into the Mystic River and on to Long Island Sound. The brook and numerous other streams feed ponds, bogs, and the large wetlands from Lambtown Road in Ledyard to Quaker Farm Road in Groton. These wetlands, in turn, support a wide variety of turtles, shore and other birds, migratory fish, amphibians, and an active colony of beavers.
Large hardwood and hemlock forests cover over half of Avery Farm, with a high ridgeline and cliffs on the western side and over 50 acres of forest brooks and seeps flowing west from the ridge into the Groton and Ledyard reservoir.
In all seasons, Avery Farm has a remarkable variety of birds, 19 of them highlighted on CT DEEP’s list of rare species. A birder who has studied this area since the early 1970’s has identified a total of 168 species.
Last but not least, the combination of Avery Farm and Candlewood Ridge’s abutting acreage has added close to 400 acres of diverse open space to the Groton/Ledyard greenbelt. Click here to read more about Avery Farm. Judy Weber’s delightful story about “Life Growing Up on Avery Farm” as told to Liz Raisbeck, GOSA News writer, is a must-read too. Click here for a map.
Address: 245 Lambtown Road Ext., Ledyard. From Route 184 in Groton, head north on Lambtown Road. Go past two stop signs and the Ledyard town line. Park on the left just before the gate. GPS can be misleading.
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