Halfway River Property Conservation Completed (CT)

Newtown, CT, 3/30/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, along with officials from the Town of Newtown, announced today that Newtown has purchased 12 acres of land along the Halfway River for permanent conservation. By acquiring the 12-acre property, the Town will provide valuable access to one of the state’s best wild brown trout fisheries, permanently protect the streamside habitat, and safeguard the high quality of the water that supports the renowned fish population. The town purchased the property, located at 300 Berkshire Road, for $305,000, ensuring that it will never be developed.

Rob Sibley, Deputy Director of Land Use for the Town of Newtown, said, “I am thrilled that the Town of Newtown is able to complete another key acquisition, permanently protecting land that will provide needed access to the Halfway River. We are grateful to The Trust for Public Land for their important role in this acquisition and for working collaboratively with the Town to see this to a successful conclusion.”

Lisa Bassani, Field Representative for The Trust for Public Land, said, “The Trust for Public Land is delighted to have helped to conserve this important property along the Halfway River. This river boasts one of the state’s most extraordinary fisheries and with this purchase, current and future generations will enjoy access to this rare natural resource. This conservation effort truly reflects TPL’s ‘Land for People’ mission.”

The protection of the property will provide much needed access to the Halfway River for fishing and passive recreational uses, will preserve approximately 1200 feet of river frontage, and protect the water quality of this pristine stream. For these reasons, the Town of Newtown’s Conservation Commission identified the property as a top priority for acquisition.Joe Hovious, Chairman of the Town’s Conservation Commission, said, “This is a unique piece of property and I am extremely pleased to see it conserved for future generations. I want to thank The Trust for Public Land for their efforts and for being true partners with the Town in this conservation project.”

Due to the high conservation and recreational value of the property, the town asked TPL to purchase the property from a private landowner in March 2008. TPL has been holding the property off of the market, allowing time for the Town to request grant funds from the Housatonic River Natural Resources Restoration Project. The program, funded through a settlement with General Electric for damages to the Housatonic River, published its draft restoration plan in March 2009. The acquisition of the Halfway River property was included in the draft plan, which is now in a required public comment period. If the acquisition is included in the final plan, the Town of Newtown could be reimbursed for the cost of the acquisition, plus funds for upgrades to facilitate public access to the fishery. The Trustees expect the final plan to be published in the summer of 2009.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization which works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected over 5,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state.