In contemplating the impact of the Canton Land Conservation Trust’s 40 years of work, I last addressed how preserving land saves money. That is a terrific plus, but there are many more benefits.
People are happier in green spaces, so much so that simply being in a forest or park has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
In cities, mature tree canopies are credited with reducing crime rates.
And if just being in or viewing green spaces is good for your health, imagine what you can achieve by walking, snowshoeing or skiing them. The Canton Land Trust has 17 trails that are big draws for people wanting some exercise, as well as bird watchers and nature photographers.
Water and air are cleaner thanks to trees and natural, unpaved surfaces. Nature is the best filter for protecting air quality, aquifers and wetlands. The Land Trust owns property abutting portions of Cherry Brook, which Roaring Brook Nature Center Director Jay Kaplan calls “an important part of the Farmington River watershed.”
Many kinds of wildlife including songbirds and large mammals need large, uninterrupted corridors in order to survive. As an added bonus, we get to enjoy this wildlife. Mr. Kaplan says that the black-throated blue warbler breeds on the Ted Wright Trail in the Smith Tree Farm. And, he adds, “Want to see a yellow-bellied sapsucker or rose breasted grosbeak? They are always at the Mary Conklin Sanctuary.”
In the Land Trust’s largest unfragmented tract, the 130-acre Sun, Wind and Woodland parcel along Breezy Hill Road abuts the Breezy Hill Farm’s 28 acres, Capen parcel’s 33 acres and 100 acres donated by Thomas Perry. The 107-acre Mary Conklin Sanctuary is almost contiguous.
The Trust owns major pieces of Onion, Ratlum North, Ratlum South and Sweetheart mountains – all of which were highly-rated in the 2007 Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project (a project of the Farmington River Watershed Association and the Wildlife Conservation Society.)
That report found on these properties “robust populations of forest-interior dependent breeding birds,” the Species of Special Concern whip-poor-will, “high quality wetlands and vernal pools that support a rich amphibian fauna” and, on Onion Mountain, one of only a few occurrences in the state of the long-leaved bluet.
Not too shabby, what land can do when it’s left alone. And thanks to the Canton Land Conservation Trust, we have 2,000 preserved acres working for us.
Save the date for the Land Trust’s day and evening 40th Anniversary celebrations: Sept. 29th. There will be daytime naturalist-led hikes and other outdoor activities, and an evening informal dinner and dance at Ski Sundown. Details to come!