Giving the Gift of Nature & Conservation in The Last Green Valley
As the holidays approach I have been thinking about what gifts to purchase for family and friends. I try to shop at smaller local businesses as much as possible and in recent years have focused on giving “experiences” rather than things. This has led me to provide gifts of memberships at local non-profit organizations that offer experiences in the natural world around us.
Last year I gave my daughter a membership in the Audubon Society in Maine where she lives with her family. I’ll renew it for them this year and am glad to also give them a membership in the Maine chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Both organizations provide excellent programs for outdoor recreation and the Audubon Society has several sanctuaries near where they live. With a young family these memberships will be put to good use experiencing outdoor fun together.
Here in The Last Green Valley, we are fortunate to have several organizations and land trusts doing yeoman’s work in conserving land and providing beautiful properties for outdoor recreation and quality nature-based programs. Here is a list of these organizations with their websites where you’ll find information about their work, sanctuaries and preserves open to the public, as well as how to sign up for membership. They make perfect gifts for friends and family with an interest in conservation and experiencing nature.
Avalonia Land Conservancy is the largest land trust in southeastern Connecticut with more than 4,000 acres preserved on more than 90 properties. To learn more about their work and properties check out their website at: https://avalonia.org/
For membership information go to: https://avalonia.org/become-a-member/
The Connecticut Audubon Society has several centers and sanctuaries throughout the state. The centers represent Connecticut’s diverse ecosystems and habitats and also provides public programs. Locations in The Last Green Valley include the Center at Pomfret (and Bafflin Sanctuary) and Trail Wood in Hampton. You can find their website and links to all their centers and outdoor recreation opportunities at: https://www.ctaudubon.org/ Information on membership is at: https://www.ctaudubon.org/donate-membership-join-or-renew/
The Dudley Conservation Land Trust owns almost 350 acres of conservation land in Dudley and Oxford. The majority of these lands are open to the public with excellent walking locations. For information go to: https://dudleyclt.org/ and to support go to: https://dudleyclt.org/donate-1
The James L. Goodwin Conservation Center in Hampton is a public/private partnership between the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). With more than 2,000 acres it serves as a conservation education field site in eastern Connecticut with a mission to provide forestry, wildlife, and general conservation education to youth and adults. Information can be found at: https://www.friendsofgoodwinforest.org/ with membership information at: https://www.friendsofgoodwinforest.org/membership.html
The Groton Open Space Association owns five properties and works closely with the state to maintain three more, totaling 1,786 acres. Learn more at https://www.gosaonline.org/ and for membership information go to https://www.gosaonline.org/become-a-member/
Joshua’s Trust has conserved 4,500 acres of land within 14 towns of Windham and Tolland counties. With more than 70 tracts they provide many exceptional properties available for outdoor recreation. To learn more about their work and properties go to: https://joshuastrust.org/ and for membership information: https://joshuastrusttest.org/donate-2/
The New Roxbury Land Trust works to preserve open space in northeast Connecticut by protecting agricultural lands, forests, natural resources and wildlife habitats in the towns of Woodstock, Eastford, Pomfret, Putnam, Thompson and Union. To learn more about their properties and walking locations go to: http://thenewroxburylandtrust.org/ You’ll find membership information at: http://thenewroxburylandtrust.org/donate/
The Northern Connecticut Land Trust preserves and protects more than 1,700 acres of natural resources and sponsors outdoor activities on 30 properties within 7 communities of northern Connecticut. Information on their work can be found at: https://northernctlandtrust.org/ with membership information at: https://northernctlandtrust.org/get-involved/
Opacum Land Trust has conserved 1,788 acres in 13 towns of south-central Massachusetts. They have five properties available for outdoor recreation with a total of 714 acres. To find out more about their work and properties go to: https://www.opacumlt.org/ and for membership information go to: https://www.opacumlt.org/support-opacum-land-trust/
The Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association & Wolf Den Land Trust manages 17 properties totaling almost 900 acres. They offer outdoor recreation and programs on forest management for landowners in the region. Information on their locations can be found at: http://www.ecfla.org/ and membership information at: http://www.ecfla.org/join/
The Wyndham Land Trust has acquired more than 50 properties in 10 towns of northeastern Connecticut totaling more than 3,000 acres. For a list of their excellent walkable locations check out their website www.wyndhamlandtrust.org for membership information go to: https://www.wyndhamlandtrust.org/become-a-member/
Lastly, let me also mention The Last Green Valley, Inc. where I have worked since 2006. We partner with all of the organizations listed, and dozens more, to bring our annual Walktober and Spring Outdoors program to the public, and to support conservation of our region’s natural and cultural resources. We also provide monthly programs free to our members and other supporters year-round, including a series we call Acorn Adventures for our youngest explorers. You can find more information about TLGV at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/ with information on our new pay-what-you-can membership program at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/join-tlgv/members/individual-family-membership/
The holidays are just around the corner. I hope you’ll join me in shopping local and supporting our conservation organizations and land trusts that are working hard to keep The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor green while offering up exceptional properties for our enjoyment. Consider the gift membership to any of these important organizations and remember to always keep the outdoors inside your heart.
I hope you’ll join me as we all work together to enjoy, care for and pass on this special place we call home, The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor – our very own homegrown national park.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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