The 2010 Wildlands and Woodlands report brought attention to the fact that New England had begun to lose forested land on a net annual basis, threatening the clean air and water, and natural habitats that sustain us all. A new inter-state collaboration is working to reverse that trend by engaging landowners identified as pivotal in the battle to protect imperiled streams, drinking water reservoirs, and plant and wildlife habitat.
The Hudson to Housatonic Initiative (H2H) is made up of conservation organizations and municipal partners across southwestern Connecticut and Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York, and is funded by a two-year U.S. Forest Service grant. H2H will be led by Highstead Foundation (on behalf of Fairfield County Regional Conservation Partnership), Westchester Land Trust, Mianus River Gorge, and Housatonic Valley Association.
“The seminal report, Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape, documented that we are now losing our irreplaceable forestlands to poorly planned development. H2H is a vital collaboration to help reverse that trend, and to sustain the natural landscapes that in turn sustain us – now and for future generations,” according to Highstead Conservation Director, Emily Bateson.
Participating organizations and agencies will collaborate with landowners in 13 focus areas that straddle town or state lines and contain land with streams that drain into reservoirs or habitats that are most likely to adapt to climate change in the in the future. Through activities with peers and specialists, landowners will learn about their land and gain a better understanding of their central role in sustaining the critical natural resources that support people and wildlife.
“Balance is critical in all human endeavors,” said Richard Chiaramonte, President of Stamford Land Conservation Trust. “The natural world teaches that lesson. Large landscape protection, expressed by the H2H initiative, is a part of the critical effort to maintain balance between the natural world of watersheds and habitat and the developed world of roads and buildings. To sustain, both are required.” Through activities with peers and specialists, landowners will learn about their land and gain a better understanding of their central role in sustaining the critical natural resources that support people and wildlife.
This project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry. H2H is part of the Landscape Scale Restoration Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Partner organizations in Connecticut include Aquarion Water Company, Aspetuck Land Trust, Bethel Land Trust, Brookfield Open Space Legacy, Inc., CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Greenwich Land Trust, Newtown Forest Association, Norwalk River Watershed Association, Redding Land Trust, Stamford Land Conservation Trust, Town of Ridgefield Conservation Commission, Wilton Land Conservation Trust, and Yale University.