Ernie Boothroyd Nature Preserve
The Ernie Boothroyd Nature Preserve abuts the Nye-Holman State Forest in the Ellington panhandle. This property provides habitat for a large variety of animal and bird wildlife. In 2015, stewardship volunteers created a loop trail to showcase the property. This 1.2 mile walk included stops to look at and discuss items of interest along the way including Mountain Laurel.
The property name commemorates Ernest William Boothroyd, Jr., (1944-2005). Ernie was a former Northern Connecticut Land Trust president and served on the Board of Directors for many years.
Born in Rockville and a life long resident of Ellington, he graduated from Ellington High School and attended Hartford State Technical College. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ernie was active in town politics serving on the Charter Revision Committee, The Conservation Commission, the Public Safety Commission, the Forest and Open Space Commission, the Ellington Fire Department and the Ellington Ambulance. He enjoyed attending town meetings and believed strongly in common sense in government. Ernie volunteered many hours to the Northern Connecticut Land Trust working to preserve wooded areas for generations to come. Ernest also volunteered countless hours to the Hartford County 4-H where he served as Director of the Fair and at the 4-H Camp in Marlborough. His love of nature and of machinery was evident in all his activities with the 4-H especially his announcing of the Doodlebug Draw at fair time.
News Release: “In March, 2010 the Northern Connecticut Land Trust acquired the 58-acre Moseley property in Ellington, costing $185,000.00 shared by the State of Connecticut, the Bafflin Foundation, the Fields Pond Foundation, the town of Ellington, and the land trust. The land will be managed and owned by the Trust. Abutting the Nye-Holman State Forest, and sharing a boundary line with the town of Stafford, the forested site will remain as open space. The culmination of a series of acquisitions in 2010, the Trappe land in Somers (138 acres) and a conservation easement (136 acres) on the White Farm in Stafford has enabled the Land Trust to protect and preserve 1,280 acres in the towns of Somers, Stafford, Ellington, East Windsor, Enfield, Vernon and Tolland.”
The 36 acre Bellante Preserve is located on Sandy Beach Road (Route 140) in far eastern Ellington, on the Stafford town line. This scenic parcel of upland woods, marshes and streams abuts the NCLT’s 58 acre Ernie Boothroyd preserve and also abuts the 365 acres owned by John Serafin that are protected by a conservation easement. Together, these three properties and the adjacent Nye-Holman State Forest, provide a large forest block that is home to abundant wildlife.
The NCLT Stewardship Committee has developed an interesting trail, the blue blazed Sitting Rock Trail. This trail branches into two legs that connect with the orange blazed Balanced Boulder Trail on the Ernie Boothroyd Preserve. See map. There is a small parking area at the trailhead of the blue blazed trail. The parking area is too small for large vehicles due to runoff from a highway culvert, but will be expanded in the future. We plan to purchase a small additional piece of land from the owner to allow the parking area to be extended. In the meantime, hikers can use the school bus turnaround area directly across the street. Please tuck your vehicle close to the woods on school days to allow room for the busses to maneuver. A hike on the blue blazed trail and the connection section of the orange blazed trail takes about 40 minutes but can be extended by branching off to the outer loop of the orange blazed trail.
Both trail systems pass through extensive areas of mountain laurel and high bush blueberries. The western leg of the blue blazed trail goes by an overgrown vernal pool that, in March and early April, is filled with wood frogs broadcasting their presence with their loud quacking calls. Shortly before the vernal pool is a little clearing on top of a knoll. In the clearing is Sitting Rock, a small boulder with a flat top that overlooks the woods below. It is a pleasant place to rest and contemplate the beauty of nature.
The NCLT owes many thanks to the Hirth Small Engine Repair Company that is located nearby on Sandy Beach Road. Ricci Hirth donated his labor and the use of his equipment to cut down trees, remove stumps and surface soil, and to grade and compact the gravel surface to create the parking area. He also took on the job of obtaining the permits needed to have an entrance to a state highway.
Because of the distance from town centers, the trails on this property are a lot less crowded than some other NCLT trails and offer a greater opportunity for wildlife observing. We hope you enjoy this new addition to the NCLT trail system.
Bird Field Conservation Area
Acquired: July 2021
The Bird Field Conservation Area is a picturesque and strategic property located on Webster Road in Ellington at the intersection with East Porter Road. The 118.4 acre parcel consists of upland forest, brooks, wetlands and hayfields. The property abuts the Shenipsit State Forest and will provide a trailhead and connection to the large network of state forest trails. The property contains watershed for Shenipsit Lake Reservoir and a section of Charters Brook, a primary feeder stream to the lake. Shenipsit Lake Reservoir provides drinking water to Ellington and the surrounding towns so it is important to protect the purity of the water feeding this lake.
The property was purchased from John and Gloria Wraight, who agreed to a bargain sale in order to ensure that it would be preserved and protected from development. Funds for the $265,000 purchase price were provided by the CT DEEP, the Town of Ellington, the Bafflin Foundation, the Fields Pond Foundation and friends of the NCLT.
At the request of the former owners, the property is named the Bird Field Conservation Area. This name reflects the historical use of the land by John Wraight’s father who raised pheasants and partridges that were sold to the state to be released for hunting.
The NCLT plans to provide a small trail head and a connecting trail to the Shenipsit State Forest trail network.
The Joy Property was a gift Richard and Joyce Joy. This is wet forest environment and is located at Lanz and Deborah Roads in Ellington.
The property abuts NCLT Swann Farm and is located between Reeves Road and Green Road.
The five (5) fields on the property are leased to local farmers for growing corn and hay.
Funding for the purchase was provided by the Hartford Foundation and the Bafflin Foundation. The Connecticut Department of Agriculture and the Town of Ellington purchased the development rights.
In 2000, Joan Swann offered to sell her 56 acre Ellington farm to the NCLT at a bargain price in order to ensure that it would remain undeveloped and continue as working farmland. This was the first major property purchase made by the NCLT. The CT Department of Environmental Protection and to the Hartford Foundation provided funding and the NCLT closed on the property in 2001.
The Swann Farm has extensive areas of prime agricultural soil, a valuable natural resource. The property contains a wooded area with a trail and a vernal pool, two fields leased to local farmers and a one acre chestnut breeding orchard. The breeding orchard is part of a national program conducted by The American Chestnut Foundation to breed blight resistant trees and to restore American chestnut trees to the eastern forests.
The Swann Farm is located on Reeves Road in Ellington. It is marked by a sign along the road and contains a small parking area at the beginning of the walking trail.
This 14 acre property was purchased with funding provided by the Vranos Family Foundation.
There is a one-half mile loop trail starting on Porter Road. The trail rises steeply from Porter Road, first through land owned by the Town of Ellington and then on to NCLT land. At the high point of the trail there is a picnic area with limited views of the Connecticut River Valley.
The 30 acre Shenipsit Woods property was purchased with funds provided by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the Town of Ellington, and the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Lead Trust-Cox Family Foundation at the Boston Foundation.
The property is located in the upland forest between Porter Road and Webster Road in Ellington. It abuts the Shenipsit State Forest and provides a hiking trail that connects to the Soapstone Mountain Blue Blazed Trail. It also provides watershed protection for Charter’s Brook, an important source of high quality water for Shenipsit Reservoir. Shenipsit Woods is part of a large forest block with excellent wildlife habitat.