Connecticut Adds Bogus Farm to Open Space

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Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that the state of Connecticut is adding to its holdings of open space with the purchase of 134 acres of the Bogus Farm property, which is located in Bethel adjacent to the popular Collis B. Huntington State Park.

"Bogus Farm is an impressive and important purchase for us. This property was one of the largest undeveloped areas in northern Fairfield County held in private ownership. It contains outstanding natural resources and a developed trail system. The property also connects to Collis B. Huntington State Park and will expand the outdoor recreational opportunities available to people who visit that park. We appreciate the interest Bobbie Schrijver had in selling this land to the state and preserving it for all of us and future generations to enjoy."

"Through Connecticut’s nationally recognized 'No Child Left Inside' initiative, we have been working hard to encourage families to get outside, visit our state parks and reconnect with the wonders of the natural world," Governor Rell said. "With the purchase of the Bogus Farm property we are making Colis B. Huntington State Park and even more exciting place to visit. We hope this will encourage families to come out to hike the trails and view the wonderful ponds, streams and rock formations in the park and on the Bogus Farm property."

The state of Connecticut has closed on the Bogus Farm property and purchased the 134 acres from its owner, Bobbie Schrijver, for $4 million. Fund were available from the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust, which is managed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and funded through bonding periodically authorized by the State Bond Commission. The Bogus Farm property is principally located in Bethel, although portions of it are located in nearby Redding.

The purchase of the Bogus Farm property is the second major open space activity by the state of Connecticut in recent months. In January, the state announced the purchase of the 308-acre Francis M. Deluca Property, located in the towns of Cornwall and Canaan. This purchase expanded the Housatonic State Forest and provided an additional 2,700 feet of frontage along the Upper Housatonic River Trout Management Area.

Governor Rell said, "These open space purchases demonstrate our continuing commitment to preserving the charm, beauty and character of Connecticut even as we seek to expand employment and housing opportunities for our citizens. Through the principles of my 'Responsible Growth,' program, we can encourage the growth we need to sustain prosperity while protecting and preserving important natural resources like the Bogus Farm and Francis M. Deluca properties."

Background on Schrijever Property

The state of Connecticut is purchasing 134 acres of property known as Bogus Farm. The land is principally in Bethel, but a portion is located in Redding. This land is adjacent to Collis b. Huntington State Park. The land features a portion of the headwaters that feed the lakes in the state park, numerous vernal pools, a trail system that interconnects with the trail system in the state park and many interesting and unique rock formations characteristic of Connecticut's southwestern hills.

Background on Collis P. Huntington State Park

Collis P. Huntington State Park was primarily in agricultural use until the Luttgen family acquired the land in the late 1800's and developed the present service roads, trails, and artificial ponds. Reportedly, a small steam paddlewheeler was then kept on the largest pond and is now sunken somewhere under the park waters. A short, stone "lighthouse" still remains on one of the islands. The Starratt family then owned the estate until the 1930's when the land was acquired by Archer M. Huntington, who willed the land of the homestead he called Stanerigg for a state park.

It was there that his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, the internationally famous sculptress, worked with clay and scaffolding in her studio. The park is named after Archer Huntington's father, Collis Potter Huntington (1821-1900), the railroad tycoon. Collis Potter Huntington became one of the wealthiest men in the country in the late century by his promotion and completion of the first transcontinental railroad. He also established the largest shipyard and dry dock company in the United States in the late 1800's at Newport News, Virginia.

The estate will most be remembered for Anna Hyatt Huntington, whose sculptures of bears and wolves welcome visitors at the park entrance. Also well known in the area is her heroic statue of General Israel Putnam at the Putnam Memorial State Park entrance in Redding, which was created when Mrs. Huntington was in her nineties.

Since Mr. and Mrs. Huntington were careful to preserve the natural quality of their land, the 883 acre park is now a wonderful place for tranquility. It spreads over fields and dense woodlands and includes five ponds. The park was opened to the public in 1973 after Mrs. Huntington's death. The park is popular for a variety of activities, including hiking, horseback riding, canoeing and fishing. One well used trail is the Blue Trail, which circles the park in a 5.7 mile loop.

Background on Connecticut's Open Space Goals

The state's overall goal is to preserve 21 percent of Connecticut’s land – or 673,210 acres – as open space by the year 2023. To date more than 72% of the goal has been achieved through the direct purchase of open space by the state (251,080 acres) and through state support for local acquisitions (352,634 acres).

Background on the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program

The Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust program was created by the Legislature in 1986 in order to help preserve Connecticut's natural heritage. It is the DEP's primary program for acquiring land to expand the state's system of parks, forests, wildlife, and other natural open spaces. Through it, the DEP manages the acquisition of land of statewide significance that represents the ecological and cultural diversity of Connecticut, with a focus on unique features such as rivers, mountains, rare natural communities, scenic qualities, historic significance, connections to other protected land, and access to water.

DEP recently adopted a new "Green Plan," which calls for more strategic open space purchases – to focus on preserving the most important lands from a natural resource perspective.

Background on Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program

State financial assistance for the purchase of local open space is provided under Connecticut's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program. The program makes funds available to support land purchases by municipalities, nonprofit land conservation organizations and water companies. Funds for this program are provided through state bonding and the 2005 Community Investment Act.

There have now been 13 rounds of funding for the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program since it was launched in 1998. In this time the state has provided more than $81.2 million in grants to assist with the purchase of about 22,630 acres across the state.