The Connecticut Audubon Society announced in early June that it has received a generous bequest, from the estate of Kathryn D. Wriston, of 835 acres of rugged hardwood forest, meadows, and wetlands straddling the state border of Connecticut and New York.
Called Deer Pond Farm, approximately half the property is in Sherman, and half in Pawling, N.Y. The bequest also includes an endowment to manage the property and conserve it as wildlife habitat.
“The generosity and foresight of Mrs. Wriston can’t be overstated, and we are extremely grateful to be able to conserve this property according to her wishes,” said Nelson North, Connecticut Audubon’s executive director. “This not only ensures that the land will be conserved but it helps us fulfill our mission in a new part of the state.”
The property sits in the highlands along the Connecticut-New York border. About 620 of its 835 acres are upland forest; 125 acres are forested wetlands, and 59 acres are meadow.
About 100 species of birds have been reported on or near the property during breeding season, including forest birds such as Broad-winged Hawk and Scarlet Tanager, marsh birds such as Virginia Rail, and birds such as American Woodcock, Eastern Towhee, and Chestnut-sided Warbler, which nest in young forests or shrubby areas.
Mammals include bobcat, several bat species, fisher and long-tailed weasel, beaver and black bear. As many as 11 species of snake possibly live on the property. Numerous reptiles and amphibians breed in its 11 vernal pools. The Deer Pond Farm list includes spotted salamanders, slimy salamanders, dusky salamanders, and wood frogs.
Deer Pond Farm includes a network of 20 miles of trails. In April, Connecticut Audubon received permission from the town of Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission to allow recreational public access to the trails. Although long-term plans are still being formulated, in the short-term Connecticut Audubon will be scheduling guided walks, by reservation.
Deer Pond Farm is not open for visits by the public unaccompanied by Connecticut Audubon staff, so reservations are essential.
Introduction to Deer Pond Farm Birding walks will take place on Saturday, July 1, and Thursday July 6. To reserve a spot visit www.ctaudubon.org/deerpondwalks.
Visitors will hike on portions of the 10 miles of trails that wind through the Connecticut section of Deer Pond Farm, which Connecticut Audubon recently took title to. It is expected that it will take title to the Pawling section when it emerges from New York State Surrogate’s Court.
The property includes a house on Wakeman Hill Road in Sherman that will be used as Deer Pond Farm’s office. Cathy Hagadorn, who until recently served as director of Connecticut Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point, will now serve as program director at Deer Pond Farm.
For general information or questions about the guided walks please call (860) 799-4074 Ext. 105. To learn more about the Connecticut Audubon Society, visit www.ctaudubon.org.
Cathy Hagadorn is the program director at Deer Pond Farm in Sherman.
PHOTO COURTESY AUDUBON SOCIETY