183 Ridgefield Road
The land is a beautiful open meadow near Wilton Center, adjoins the historical 26-acre Hillside Cemetery, and is in the center of nearby protected and unprotected open space parcels. It is easily accessible to the densely populated area yet preserves the feeling of Wilton’s rural past. The property is identified as an Open Space Priority Parcel in Wilton’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
The 13-acre property is comprised of 11 acres of open field habitat and 2 acres of riparian forestland. There are 2,225 linear feet of stone walls, a stream, large open-grown trees, and almost 1,000 feet of road frontage on Ridgefield Road, one of four State Scenic Roads in Fairfield County.
It has proven to be suitable habitat for birds, amphibians, insects, and mammals, including declining species designated Greatest Conservation Need in Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan. These include the American woodcock, wood thrush, eastern towhee, chestnut-sided warbler, big brown bat, little brown bat, and insects including the monarch butterfly.
It’s 2.3 acres of inland wetland soils and 400 linear feet of stream corridor and its associated 100-foot wide riparian buffer are extremely important features of this open space.
The stream has above average water quality and drains into the Comstock Brook, our only trout brook and most certainly deserving of continued protection. Thus, this land, its wetlands, and its stream, will continue to protect the water quality of Comstock Brook, the Norwalk River and Connecticut’s coastal water.
The property also sits atop an unusual geological remnant of the last glacial period: a domed drumlin whose ridgeline cross-sects this open space parcel.
Once new access and parking is resolved, the site will be open and accessible to a broad spectrum of the public in this densely populated area.
WLCT has received widespread support from nearby landowners to create a trail that will connect the property with other protected open space: specifically, Merwin Meadows Park, Lovers Lane open space, and the Norwalk River, as well as with Wilton Center, the Wilton Metro-north train station, and the Norwalk Heritage Area Greenway. This trail will be a greenway providing outdoor recreation, an opportunity to enjoy nature away from roadways in this highly developed town and create the much-needed opportunity to move through town and access open spaces on foot.
Educational programs and exhibits will be created for schoolchildren. Specifically, i) the Wilton Historical Society plans to plant and harvest a flax field to enhance their “flax to linen” school educational programs, ii) the Woodcock Nature Center plans to conduct curriculum studies of an upland meadow for their school programs, and iii) The American Chestnut Foundation will be planting a seed grove to create disease resistant American Chestnut trees suitable for re-planting in and around Wilton.
This site also sits in the epicenter of the Wilton Pollinator Pathway, a critically important greenway that connects across town boundaries for protection of land vital to species biodiversity. As a founding member of the Wilton Pollinator Pathway, WLCT will implement landowner education about the healthy care of privately-owned land using 183 to exemplify an intact ecosystem.