For nearly a decade, a battle raged over the development of the 42-acre site that once housed Griswold Airport. In May 2010, The Trust for Public Land and partners helped the town of Madison protect this unique coastal site and important natural area rather than proceed with a 127-unit residential development.
The protected land is alongside Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut’s most popular state park, and adjacent to the Hammonasset/Hammock River estuary, which is among the most productive in the state. Protecting the significant and unique natural features of Griswold Airport will provide a buffer for the wildlife and plant species that thrive in the estuary, while also ensuring opportunities for the landward migration of marsh habitat in the face of sea level rise.
The Griswold property includes prime wetland habitat and coastal forest, more than 400 feet of frontage on the Hammonasset River, and a 2,000-foot salt marsh border with the Hammonasset State Park. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, the Griswold land is an important migration stopover and feeding habitat for birds, recognized by Audubon Connecticut as an “Important Bird Area” of global significance. The land also serves as a key breeding ground for finfish in the Hammonasset River, which leads out to Long Island Sound.
Finally, the site will offer recreation opportunities. A portion of the land will be set aside to provide the town of Madison with much-needed playing fields, a recreational resource currently in short supply. People will be able to walk trails along the river and view a variety of birds, which will be drawn to restored grasslands.