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RLT Steps up Efforts to Combat Vandalism

With our nature preserves, farmland and historic structures the victim of repeated vandalism, the Roxbury Land Trust announced that it is taking immediate action to step up surveillance, work more vigorously with police and town officials, and prosecute vandals to the fullest extent of the law. The non-profit organization is also working closely with adjacent property owners who have also been hard hit by vandalism.

"The damage and defacement of Roxbury Land Trust preserves and neighboring properties must stop," said Brian Duda, President of the Roxbury Land Trust. "Vandals have inflicted thousands of dollars of damage by driving on- and off-road motorized vehicles on farm fields, breaking windows, spray painting graffiti and having non-permitted bonfires. This is not just a matter of kids having fun. It's breaking the law."

"We are enhancing our ongoing efforts with the town and law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend vandals, but we really need the eyes and ears of the community to alert the police and the Roxbury Land Trust office immediately if anything suspicious is seen or heard," he continued.

The historic Mine Hill Preserve on the New Milford town line, the Gavel Farm Preserve off Dorothy Diebold Lane and Good Hill Farm Preserve on Good Hill/Tophet/Upper Grassy Hill Roads on the Woodbury town line have been consistent targets of vandalism.

"We hope parents, educators and other members of the community will help us communicate the message that destruction of Land Trust property is a serious, punishable offense, and may even be a felony," Mr. Duda said. "We need to protect our property just like a private property owner."

To report suspicious activity, please record license plate numbers and give descriptions immediately to the police at 860-354-0089, and the Roxbury Land Trust office, 860-350-4148.

Maynard Family Leases Good Hill Farm from Roxbury Land Trust

A local family, Mark and Stephanie Maynard, has been selected by the Roxbury Land Trust to lease the historic Good Hill Farm located at the intersection of Route 317 and Tophet Road on the Roxbury-Woodbury border.

The Maynards plan to produce all-natural, pasture-raised beef, as well as high-grade pork, lamb and poultry on the farm using rotational grazing. They also intend to sell vegetables and eggs, moving the farm toward non-GMO practices.

"We are thrilled to begin this next chapter at Good Hill Farm supporting a young, local family with a vision for an active, productive and sustainable farm that meshes so well with the goals of the Roxbury Land Trust," said Susan Payne, Executive Director. She noted that the Farm Committee selected the Maynards after an extensive search process that brought in applications from throughout New England. "The Maynards are the perfect pair to bring sustainable agriculture practices to Good Hill Farm," said Brian Duda, President of the Land Trust. "They will be strong stewards of the land and good representatives of the Land Trust while engaging with the local community."

A Roxbury native with an associate's degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut's College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Mark Maynard has more than 20 years of experience raising beef cattle. He established Ox Hollow Farm in 1994 with a mission to provide hormone and antibiotic-free products to consumers. The farm's products can be found at several area farm markets, as well as at local natural food markets and restaurants.

Stephanie Maynard, who grew up in New Milford and has her masters in clinical mental health counseling, began working for Ox Hollow Farm at farmers markets 10 years ago. She and Mark were married last year, and her goal is to balance her career with a family life strongly centered in farming and educating consumers on where their food comes from and how it has been raised.

The Maynards plan to offer two CSA (community supported agriculture) programs at Good Hill Farm, with pick-up at the farm's roadside cottage starting later this spring. One is a protein-packed "meat share" once each month that will feature all-natural Angus beef, high-grade Duroc and Hampshire pork, free-range chickens and seasonal turkeys and lamb. The second option is a 20-week CSA featuring vegetables and eggs. Ox Hollow Farm currently works closely with Nonnewaug High School to give students the opportunity to work in an agricultural setting and provide credits toward sustainable agriculture research and education programming. Their goal is to do the same when the Region 12 Ag-STEM program becomes active.

The Roxbury Land Trust acquired the 467-acre Good Hill Farm in 2003 as part of the "Save our Farms" Campaign with help from grants from the State of Connecticut DEEP Open Space and Watershed Acquisition Fund and the Town of Woodbury Open Space Fund.

Since it acquired the farm, the Land Trust has continually invested in the upkeep of the farm and buildings, reclaimed fields and orchards, cut back hedgerows and built a hiking trail with a trailhead off Route 317 that connects a 720-acre greenbelt of land preserved by the Roxbury Land Trust. In 2014, the Good Hill Farm Preserve was listed on the State Register of Historic Places by the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council.

Roxbury Land Trust Earns National Accreditation

February 24, 2016: The Roxbury Land Trust has achieved national accreditation — a mark of honor in land conservation. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded the accreditation, signifying its confidence that Roxbury Land Trust lands will be protected forever.

One of only 15 of 137 land trusts in Connecticut to be accredited, the Roxbury Land Trust met extensive documentation requirements and underwent a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The arduous process strengthens land trusts with systems that help landowners and communities achieve their goals.

Accredited land trusts across the country have permanently conserved more than 15 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas that are vital to healthy, vibrant communities.

"Accreditation demonstrates the Roxbury Land Trust's commitment to permanent land conservation in Roxbury and surrounding communities," said Susan Payne, executive director of Roxbury Land Trust. "We're a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation process and this strength will help make our area an even better place for our residents and future generations."

Since it was established in 1970, the Roxbury Land Trust has preserved a total of 3,630 acres of farmland, woodlands, wildlife habitats, watercourses, wetlands and open space in Roxbury and neighboring communities. The non-profit organization maintains 32 preserves with 30 miles of hiking trails, three active farms and historic iron and granite mines, as well as offers a range of educational programs. Many of the properties, which help preserve Roxbury's rural character and scenic beauty, have been donated by area families through the years.

"We are honored to join more 342 other land trusts across America that demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence through accreditation," said Brian Duda, President of the Roxbury Land Trust. "Although the Roxbury Land Trust has always been well-run and well-respected in its land preservation and stewardship efforts, this national seal of approval will help to maintain the public's trust in our work. It is a proud day for Roxbury."

Governed by a volunteer board of directors, the Land Trust is supported by membership dues and charitable contributions and does not receive annual operating support from the town, the state or the federal government.

Roxbury Land Trust Acquires Gateway to Historic Mine Hill Preserve

In November the Roxbury Land Trust acquired an historic building at the gateway to its 360-acre Mine Hill Preserve, a National Historic Landmark.

Built in the late 1800s, this historic building was once a general store and post office in a bustling boom town called Chalybes that grew up at the base of iron ore mines that employed hundreds of immigrant workers at their short-lived height between 1865 and 1872. It is part of a complex of historic buildings at Roxbury Station just off Route 67 that were recently acquired by Washington resident Elliott Davis and will be restored and transformed into the Mine Hill Distillery to make craft spirits.

"The Roxbury Land Trust is very excited about continuing the historic preservation of this area of Roxbury, securing the gateway to our Mine Hill Preserve and, pending review by the Zoning Commission, moving our offices here." said Brian Duda, the President of the Board of Directors. "We're also helping to preserve Roxbury's heritage, which is an important part of our mission," he continued. "This will be the entrance to Mine Hill Preserve , which is one of the true gems in our network of preserves and really where the Roxbury Land Trust got its start in raising funds to preserve the town's open space and natural resources."

Highlights from 2015

  • RLT thanked Matt Root and Steven Schinke for their service as directors, and welcomed Julie Steers and Michael Fleisher to the Board of Directors.

  • Booth Free School Grade 5 watering and planting native plants to stabilize the stream bed of Jack’s Brook on the Tierney Preserve. This was a project of Trout Unlimited with a grant from CT DEEP. More grades from Booth recently explored RLT's preserves, and they sent this neat thank you.
  • Roxbury Land Trust is applying for accreditation by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the gold standard for the operation of a land trust. Just 13 land trusts in Connecticut are accredited.

    Highlights from 2014

  • In February 2014 the Painter Hill Neighborhood responded quickly and generously to a challenge to preserve in perpetuity 120 acres of pristine open upland and forest called the Greenbelt Expansion Project. This project is an uninterrupted greenbelt of 720 acres stretching from Painter Hill Road at the north to Grassy Hill Road at the south of the airstrip at Good Hill Farm. Rebecca Miller offered to donate 100 acres if RLT purchased a contiguous parcel of 20 acres. Purchase completed and donation of land made!

       
    Marc Olivieri and Rebecca Miller

    "We were very gratified by the response from the neighbors, who gave so generously to help preserve this beautiful swath of forest and uplands in perpetuity," said Marc Olivieri, Vice President of the Roxbury Land Trust, who served as the chairman of the campaign.

    Ms. Miller, who grew up in Roxbury, continues the legacy of her father, Arthur Miller, in preserving land. In 2005, the estate of Arthur Miller donated 55 acres of land along Tophet Road, which became the Arthur Miller and Inge Morath Miller Preserve in honor of the late playwright and his wife, a well-known photographer. That preserve, which is contiguous to the newly donated land, connects to four other nature preserves that total nearly 720 acres of open space.

    "I am very happy to be able to preserve the land we love so much," said Ms. Miller. "We believe wholeheartedly in the mission of the Roxbury Land Trust, which has done extraordinary work to preserve the rural nature of where we live."

  • A 34-acre conservation easement on Battle Swamp Road was donated in December. It is contiguous to land protected by Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust and Steep Rock Association.

  • The Tierney Preserve parking area was washed out by heavy spring rains and was reconstructed.

  • In June RLT welcomed John Yarbrough to the Board of Directors and thanked Jim Conway and Richard Frank for their many years of service.

  • Good Hill Farm Preserve was recognized by the State Register of Historic Places as one of 200 important agricultural properties in Connecticut.

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