The West Hartford Land Trust currently owns approximately 17 acres, and is looking for volunteers as well as funds to expand its mission.
By Dorian Olivera, West Hartford Land Trust Board Member
What exactly is a land trust and how does it function?
Land Trusts are nonprofit, community based organizations dedicated to the permanent protection and stewardship of open land. According to the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, there are 137 land trust advocacy organizations among the state’s 169 towns, the third-highest number of any state in the country. Clearly, Connecticut’s citizens care about protecting and preserving their open space.
The West Hartford Land Trust (WHLT) was established in 2002, cooperating with the town’s Leisure Services Department in the pursuit of open space preservation.
In a mature community like West Hartford, where there is little available land, the WHLT has succeeded in securing nearly 17 acres to date, most of which has come by way of donations from individuals, developers, and independent advocacy. Included in those parcels are two on Farmington Avenue, one on Clark Drive, and another on Orchard Road.
Land trusts also work with adjoining towns to create greenways by combining pieces of land owned by the state, towns, and conservation commissions, as well as other land trusts that connect to each other. One such project under planning is the creation of a walking trail over a wooded parcel straddling Bloomfield and West Hartford, bordering Still Road.
Parcels in other locations around town are also in active stages of obtainment.
In addition to securing open space, one of the biggest hurdles the WHLT faces is public awareness. Land trusts rely solely on volunteers, with zero funding from the town or state. Therefore, money for operations is crucial for land acquisition, maintenance, insurance, and promotion. As landscapes stagnate, or are threatened, our mission to educate and update residents on the need to protect and manage them is vital to the program.
There are many ways to get involved, including volunteering.
Membership starts at just $35. A corporate or business sponsorship is $200. A tax-deductible check can be mailed to West Hartford Land Trust, Inc., POB 271364, West Hartford, CT 06127-1364.
The WHLT is also participating with AmazonSmile, and 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases will be donated. To participate go to www.amazonsmile.com, register by selecting West Hartford Land Trust, and shop normally.
The WHLT also welcomes donations of land. Anyone in possession of titled land that may not be suitable to build, but that they would like to see protected, can discuss how to go about setting up a land donation.
Whatever the level of giving or commitment, everyone’s support is needed and appreciated.
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