- Category: Current Issue
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Leslie Sweetnam’s aerial view shows the Bull Hill forested ridge with Woodstock farms to the west and West Thompson Lake and the Quinebaug River to the east. (Photo courtesy of G L Sweetnam aerial photography)
WOODSTOCK — Last October a group of board members from the Wyndham Land Trust gathered on Bull Hill — a forested ridge that overlooks the farms of Woodstock and the Quinebaug River Valley. A large piece of property in the heart of the Bull Hill ridge was on the market, and the realtor described it as suitable for “large estate homes, a conference center, or a public or private camp.” The board’s mission was to determine if they should work to protect the landmark property from development.
The group took a short walk along the top of the ridge to a scenic overlook where the decision was made. The view from the overlook was breathtaking, and the board was galvanized into action — they would do whatever it took to acquire the property and save it from development. In the weeks that followed, letters were written, phone calls were made, and grants were applied for. Their hard work was rewarded when, on Feb. 15, 2017, the Wyndham Land Trust took possession of the 254-acre Bull Hill Preserve—the largest single property owned by the land trust.
“The view we acquired is spectacular,” said board member Jeff Stefanik. “You can see all of Woodstock below you; and you can see down to Bay Mountain in Griswold, Chestnut Hill in E. Killingly, Thompson Hill with the white church steeple, all the way over to Wood Hill on the Upper Gore in Webster. There aren’t many spots in this part of New England with such a great view that are open to the public. I’m very happy we’ve had a chance to acquire it and make this happen. It will be a huge long-term benefit to the public.”
“The property we acquired on Bull Hill has everything,” said the land trust’s land manager Andy Rzeznikiewicz, “and we hope to make it our signature preserve. It sits in a 3,000-acre unfragmented forest block. It contains wetland and swamps with ecological value, and it has hemlock forested areas with mountain laurel that support a high diversity of bird life. The property is easy for people to access, it has existing trails, and the views are terrific. It also protects the watershed of the Little River—Putnam’s water supply.
“Bull Hill is a large forest block, but it’s cut up into a lot of small lots with many different owners that are scattered around the country,” said Rzeznikiewicz. “We would like the owners to consider conserving their land. We want to create something special for people in the area to enjoy.
“We’ll map the preserve and its trail system this summer, and we’ll also work on installing signs and boundary markers. I’d like to lead some guided walks up there later in the year. I want people to realize we have preserved a special place for future generations and to support our mission.”