Funding Drive for Ethel Walker Conservation at Halfway Mark (CT)

Simsbury, CT, 1/26/2007: – A dinner and auction Saturday evening in Simsbury officially kicked off of the public appeal for donations to save the Ethel Walker Woods in Simsbury. The School’s land on Bushy Hill Road is under agreement with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization. Last November, town voters approved a $7 million appropriation to purchase the land. TPL and Keep The Woods, a local grassroots group, are working to raise the additional $2.75 million in private donations needed to complete the purchase by March 1st.

The Ethel Walker land includes forests, open fields, trails, and wetlands, and sits stop the Stratton Brook aquifer, a source of 73% of the Town’s drinking water. The preservation of the property would protect the public water supply, retain a major scenic vista in town, and guarantee permanent public access to the land and its extensive trail system.

The proceeds from Saturday’s event, attended by more than 200 people, totaled almost $60,000, bringing the amount raised so far to nearly $1.5 million. The event was held at the Tower Ridge Country Club and sponsored by Aquarion Water Company and SKY Investment Group LLC.

A highlight of the banquet was the awarding of citations to TPL and Keep The Woods from the General Assembly State of Connecticut, in recognition of their work to preserve open space and safe drinking water. Newly elected Congressman Chris Murphy presented the award.

Congressman Murphy said in a statement, “The people of Connecticut will all benefit from the extraordinary effort put forth by the town of Simsbury, The Trust for Public Land, Keep The Woods, and the many other supporters, to permanently protect the Ethel Walker Woods. They demonstrate the type of collaboration and dedication needed to preserve critical open space and to conserve our state’s invaluable natural and recreational resources. The time has come for the federal government to join in these efforts by deepening its commitment to open space protection.”

“We have been honored to be part of preserving such a regionally significant property,” said Melissa Spear of The Trust for Public Land. “Many people and organizations have worked for decades to protect this priceless open space network in the Farmington Valley, and many people have worked very hard for a year and a half to get to this point with the preservation of the Ethel Walker Woods. We are getting down to the wire, but with everyone’s support I feel confident we can reach our fundraising goal.”

Susan Masino, a spokesperson for Keep The Woods, said, “We heartily thank Aquarion and SKY for their generosity in helping us with our kickoff. We hope other corporate entities will follow suit and show the community that they care about the environment, quality of life, and clean drinking water.”

The deadline for completing the $2.75 million fundraising goal is March 1, 2007. To contribute, call (203) 777-7367 Ext. 4, or visit The Woods is a grassroots group which formed to support protection of the open space and watershed land of The Ethel Walker School. For more information, visit

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected more than 4,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across Connecticut. For more information, visit