THE CHESTER LAND TRUST
The Land Trust maintains land that have been deeded to the Trust with the intent to preserve the natural habitat and assure the environmental health of these properties. Members of the Land Trust conduct annual inspections of each property to assess and improve when necessary the conditions of each site. These Chester parcels of land have diverse topography and ecological characteristics.
Duck Pond Preserve
The 6.2 acres of extensive upland woods boarding the pond marsh are located southwest of 195 West Main Street. It contains dense covering of shrubs and vines. At the south end is the Cedar Swamp. The site is not accessible to the public. It is a valuable natural habitat for deer, bobcats, ducks, birds and several varieties of fish in the pond.
Burr Brook Preserve
This small preserve, acquired in 1998, has a triangular shape covering approximately 700 square feet. It is on the north side of the Burr Brook Bridge on Route 148 near the intersection of Route 145. There is a stone wall at the eastern boundary. The western border is not well defined due to extensive underbrush and wetland. The Burr Brook is a major tributary to the Pattaconk Brook.
Chester Creek Preserves
There are three parcels of marsh land (40 acres) adjacent to the tidal Chester Creek which were transferred from The Nature Conservancy to the Land Trust in 1999. Prior to this land transfer, the one large parcel of 32 acres was given by the Carol Nelson Family in 1986 and the remaining two parcels of approximately 8 acres was given by Karl Thonnes in July 1990 to the Nature Conservancy. The Chester Creek has extensive mud flats at low tide. This unique freshwater marsh is an important area for migrating waterfowl. The birds feed on the wild rice that exists in the creek. There is valuable ecological significance in the tidal fluctuations; the area serves as a feeding, nursery and spawning ground for several species of fish.
Two pieces of the preserve are a narrow marsh strip, of 8 acres on Water Street near the bridge on Route 154 next to Moravelas Pizza. The larger parcel of 32 acres is east of Route 154 on the north side of Grote Road and has extensive covering of phragmites at marsh level. In 2018, an Osprey Nest Platform with a “husband’s perch” was installed in the Chester Creek and can be seen from Grote Road. An Osprey family has been enjoying their new home every year. The narrow land located halfway down Grote Road has hardwood trees and mountain laurel.
Carini and Scudder Preserves
In the center of Chester next to the Herbary is the Carini preserve (6.5 acres) at 30 Water St that the Land Trust has developed for public use. Visitors are encouraged to have a restful picnic or fish in the Chester Creek or adjoining brook. Trust members have planted new pollinator native plants at the entrance of the site. This property is at the confluence of the Great Brook and Pattaconk Brook which flows into Chester Creek. In 2010, the Land Trust Trustees constructed a gazebo at the end of the preserve. In 2020, new interior seating was installed with repainting and staining of the entire gazebo.
In 2020, a new informational storyboard has been installed at the kiosk about the Land Trust and the preserves. In the past, educational site visits have been conducted by trustees for the children from the elementary school.
The adjacent half acre of land east of Carini Preserve at 34 Water St is known as the Henry Scudder Preserve, was donated to the Land Trust by the widow of Henry Scudder. The small vacant house was removed in 2000. The Trust volunteers have cleared the land, planted several native species and created a small patio area. There are two granite benches for visitors to observe the birds in the Chester Creek.
Waterhouse Brook Preserve
The Land Trust obtained the title, in 2002, for these 2.2 acres of land after the CT Department of Environmental Protection certified the site was free of all pollutants. This parcel of tidal wetlands is located on the left side of Dock Road, immediately after crossing the Valley Railroad track.
In 2000, owner, Elise Piquet at 28 Wig Hill Road, gave approximately 8 acres to the Land Trust. This parcel is located behind the existing property that contains a home and garage/studio building. The stipulation by Mrs. Piquet is that the land remains undisturbed and undeveloped.
In 2009, a donation of 2.7 acres was received from the Rayner family of woodland property on West Main Street located to the east of the Brushmill Restaurant. The Pattaconk Brook passes through the property.
The Connecticut River Gateway Commission gave 14.6 acres of land on the Connecticut River to the Chester Land Trust in March 2014. The property runs parallel to the Valley Railroad Tracks off of Railroad Avenue. It has high wooded land and tidal marsh and offers wonderful views of the Connecticut River. Access to the preserve is complicated with easement walk area behind the marina and west of railroad track. Access complications to the site must be resolved.
The Constance Baker Motley Preserve was purchased by donations and funding from members of the Chester Land Trust in November 2016. These 6.7 acres are located at 100 Cedar Lake Road across the street from the seasonal home that was owned by the Motley family for 40 years. The pie shaped preserve is surrounded by the Cockaponsett State Forest. The land by the street has been cleared to provide a small parking area with a picnic table. The kiosk describes some of the many accomplishments of Judge Motley. The Chester Land Trust trustees have uncovered Judge Motley’s husband’s beautiful and varied vegetable and flower gardens. CLT has developed in 2020 a half mile loop hiking trail named “ The Little Rock Nine Trail” on the preserve. This preserve was added to the CT Freedom Trail in October 2019.
The Pines and Liberty Ridge Conservation Easements
These two easements are not owned by the Trust. These properties cannot be developed and serve as open buffer habitat space next to homes that have been developed close to wetland. The Pines Easement was established in 1988 and consists of 4 acres. It has rolling terrain with a marshy wet watercourse that flows in a snakelike pattern to Cedar Swamp. Hemlock, mountain laurel and white pine dominate the area. It is located behind the homes on the east side of Pine Knoll Drive.
The Liberty Ridge Easement, established in 1997, is located between Brook Lane and Liberty Street consisting of approximately 4 acres with a high, hilly, open terrain. The Deep Hollow stream is to the north side of this easement. Hemlocks and excessive amount of Japanese Barberry exist.
No public access is permitted on these conservation easements.
Bush Conservation Easement
In 2014, Shirley Feldmann Bush established a 10 acre easement on Cedar Lake Road adjacent to residential home at 11 Cedar Lake Road. The easement has access to the road and extends back to abut the 38 acres she gave to Cockaponset State Forest. The easement has 6 acres of open, cleared meadow; the other 4 acres is woodland of mixed pine and hardwood trees. The space is a sanctuary for wildlife. No public access is permitted and the land is to remain in its natural state.
In 1998, a half of an acre located at the south end of the Chester Creek bridge on Rt 154 was given to the Land Trust from the Leland Wood estate. Since the reconstruction of the bridge the marsh land is under the end of the bridge.
Note: The Land Trust Board invites Chester residents to volunteer to be stewards to help monitor and protect these wonderful, valuable open spaces for our community.
Compiled by Jenny Kitsen and Bill Myers updated for website 02/2021.
What Has Been Protected
Photos of Chester Land Trust properties by Vivian Beyda