Devil’s Den preserve expands by 77 acres
WESTON — The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut’s largest preserve just got bigger.
Last week, it was announced the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut has added 77 acres of woodlands and wetlands to the Lucius Pond Ordway-Devil’s Den Preserve. The nearly 1,800-acre preserve has added land formerly owned by the Nevas family on its western border. The Nevas family have been known for their philanthropy and the Leo and Libby Nevas Family Foundation, which works for global human rights.
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Cynthia Fowx, Devil’s Den preserve manager, said the project has been on her organization’s list of priority acquisition sights since the 1970s.
“There’s a few characteristics about it that has kept it as a top priority for us,” she said of the property. “One of it is that it’s connected to the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Connecticut.”
Prior to the acquisition, Fowx said the property had been associated with the preserve because an existing trail crossed through the property.
“We’ve had a relationship with the family that owns the property for quite some time,” she said.
The conservancy worked with the Nevas family as well as the Price family, who were looking for a way to honor their grandparents — Leo and Libby Nevas. The relatives of the late Joan Livingston Tweedy, of Darien, also donated funds to honor her legacy of conservation, Fowx said. Tweedy was known as an avid conservationist instrumental in advancing the work of many conservancy organizations.
Over half of the property also qualifies as a site for terrestrial climate resilience, meaning the area has characteristics that provides diversity of habitat for species to help them adapt to climate change, she said.
“Also, when we’re looking at properties like this we’re looking at how these special landscapes are connected to allow species to migrate as the climate changes,” Fowx said.
The acquired property also provides fresh-water resources, which can benefit the preserve as it is already part of the extended 70-mile Saugatuk Valley Trails System and helps protect the headwaters of the Saugatuck River watershed. The habitat also provides habitat for 500 types of trees and wildflowers, and over 140 bird species.
The acquisition will not only help to sustain this natural environment, Fowx said, but also protect it.
“This project will help act as a buffer between the preserve and future development,” she said.
Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies manager for the Nature Conservancy in Connecticut, said in addition to protecting the Nevas parcel for its own conservation value, the acquisition ensures the existing preserve could be protected from future negative effects like property development.
“Had there been development of the land, there could have been resulting impacts on the preserve,” she said. “Not just impacts on wildlife, habitat and water quality, but also impacts on the public’s enjoyment of the preserve.”
Pellegrino said any time the conservancy or its partners can conserve natural places there’s a positive value to people and nature.
“One of the things so great about Devil’s Den is its size in a very developed and busy part of the state,” she said. “Having that population centered there and having somewhere that they can go and really get deep into a preserve of this size is a real treat.”