Mather Meadows Protection Completed (CT)

DARIEN, Connecticut, 10/30/03: The Land Trust of Darien and the Trust for Public Land announced today that the final phase of the Mather Meadows conservation project has been completed. The 9-acre property, which lies at the intersection of Stephen Mather and Brookside Roads, has been a longtime conservation priority because of its location across the street from Darien’s only National Historic Landmark, the 1778 Mather Homestead. To complete the multiyear project, The Land Trust of Darien, with help from the Trust for Public Land, purchased the final 3 acres of the property today from the McPherson family for $1.165 million. The initial phase of the project was completed last March, when the two organizations protected the first 6 acres.

In all, $3.8 million was raised over three years to permanently protect the land. Essential to the project’s success were two grants totaling just over $1.4 million from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program. Other sources of funding included more than $2 million in private donations and a $100,000 contribution from the Town of Darien.

“It was so gratifying to see hundreds of people in town step up to help us with this acquisition,” said Terrie Wood, president of The Land Trust of Darien. “The residents of Darien genuinely care about preserving open space and made this project a priority. We are grateful for their generosity. Though we have received pledges for all of the funds needed for the purchase, not all of the funds have been received. We will be collecting the remaining outstanding pledges during the next week.”

“The protection of this defining landscape has been a result of teamwork. Many volunteers for The Land Trust of Darien, local and state officials and numerous residents of Darien worked together with us to accomplish something that no one person could have done alone,” said Alicia Betty, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Thanks to everyone’s hard work, Mather Meadows will remain as it has been for hundreds of years.”

“The Department of Environmental Protection is proud to have played a role in the preservation of this historically significant property, so that visitors can enjoy this meadow and the contributions of the Mather family for many years to come,” said DEP Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque, Jr. “This acquisition demonstrates the tremendous value of partnerships and the public’s interest in furthering efforts to protect open space and hold on to those unique properties in our communities.”

Bruce G. Orr, co-chairman of the campaign’s fundraising committee, stated, “This has been a long, but satisfying journey for those of us who have worked on the project since its inception. The Trustees of the land trust and members of the campaign committee are grateful to the Darien community who contributed so generously to saving this land from future development.”

“I congratulate The Land Trust of Darien and the Trust for Public Land for their foresight to protect this very important part of Darien’s history and an environmentally important area,” said Bob Harrel, Darien’s First Selectman. “I am also thankful for the contribution of Commissioner Rocque and the Department of Environmental Protection. Without the state grants, this project would not have been possible.”

“We are greatly indebted to everyone who supported this landmark project. This project is a testament to the perseverance of our Land Trust and our commitment to retaining the community character of Darien,” said Susan Cheswick Brewer, co-chairman of the campaign’s fundraising committee, “We are especially thankful that the McPherson family agreed to sell their land to us for $500,000 less than its appraised value.”

Mather Meadows is made up of two parcels located near the border of Darien, New Canaan, and Norwalk. These scenic meadows along the Goodwives River and Mather Pond contain numerous species of wild flowers and grasses, dotted with specimen trees. The property is located between two other parcels of conservation land owned by the Darien Land Trust, creating a half-mile greenway.

“The McPherson Family is pleased that with this second of two closings we have successfully completed the sale of the Mather Meadows to The Land Trust of Darien,” said Stephen M. McPherson. “With the help of the Trust for Public Land, these two parcels now will be under the care of the land trust and will remain in perpetuity as open space for the enjoyment of the residents of Darien, New Canaan, and Norwalk who travel past this corner. We are thankful to the many neighbors, friends and residents of the town who have shown a dedication to preservation through their generous commitments to this project.”

Mather Meadows borders Darien’s only National Historic Landmark, the Mather Homestead, built in 1778 by Deacon Joseph Mather. Preservation of this local property is also important from a national perspective, because Stephen Mather, grandson of Deacon Joseph, was the founder of the National Park Service and helped to double the area protected as National Parks during his tenure as Assistant Secretary of the Interior from 1915-1929.

The primary goal of The Land Trust of Darien, Inc. is to preserve and protect open space in Darien. Preservation of open space benefits our community by adding to quality-of-life values for the residents of our town, including the preservation of its rural character.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including more than 3,000 acres in Connecticut. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact us at (203) 777-7367.