Critical Treasures of Connecticut
Housatonic RiverBelt Greenway
In 1992, HVA launched the Housatonic RiverBelt Greenway to meet the need for comprehensive land protection and management and river corridor revitalization along the Housatonic River and its tributaries. Local officials, business leaders, conservation and civic groups and residents are working together to create a riparian conservation zone linking parks, forests, river access points, and other open spaces in towns along the entire Housatonic River valley.
Shepaug River Greenway
Extending along the Shepaug from its source to the confluence with the Housatonic, the Shepaug River Greenway is being put together through partnerships with the riverfront community, land trusts, and land owners.
This map was provided by the Highlands Coalition (of which HVA is an important member.) It shows 18 different spots along the Housatonic and Shepaug rivers that are considered particularly valuable to the watershed—both aesthetically and environmentally. You can follow the map as you take either a real stroll or a virtual scroll, from North to South, to discover and/or learn more about these 18 exceptional locales in your region.
1. Schenob Brook Watershed
Located in Salisbury, CT and Sheffield and Mount Washington, MA, this is one of the finest calcareous fens in New England. The 2,230 acres of the main wetland sections of the lowland swamps have remained undeveloped and were nominated for designation as a federal area of environmental concern in 1990.
2. Blackberry River Watershed
3. Canaan Mountain
The higher elevations of Canaan Mountain are owned by relatively few owners with large landholdings. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has purchased considerable acreage. Additionally, the Yale School of Forestry operates a demonstration forest with the permission of one landowner.
4. Robbins Swamp
Northeast Utilities owns a six-acre tract within Robbins Swamp abutting parcels owned by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Nature Conservancy.
5. Canaan Lime Cliffs
Carbonate bedrock, rare in New England, is found in small sections of western Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many unusual plants and wildlife rely on the calcium-rich soils and limestone outcrops here. Polluted runoff and siltation caused by a quarry at the lime cliffs in Canaan are degrading water quality of the drainage that flows to the Housatonic River and Robbins Swamp. Efforts are underway to protect the remaining cliffs not being quarried.
6. Sharon/Salisbury Agricultural Area
7. Furnace Brook Valley
Protecting the Furnace Brook watershed will guard against degrading a critical fishing stream and summer refuge for Housatonic River trout.
8. Goshen/Litchfield Agricultural Area
9. Shepaug Reservoir Lands
Until the late 1970s, the City of Waterbury permitted a stretch of the Mattatuck Trail to passthrough several thousand acres of watershed lands associated with the Shepaug Reservoir. Permanent protection of these lands along with reopening the trail would guarantee water quality along with reconnecting a hiking trail with potential links to the Shepaug River Greenway.
10. Skiff Mountain Wildlife
Two parcels comprise the 873-acre Skiff Mountain Wildlife Management Area, owned by Northeast Utillities. About one-third of the area is field. The area is currently managed as a public hunting area underwritten contract with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
11. Macedonia Brook Watershed Area
The watershed of Macedonia Brook encompasses several thousand acres of unbroken forest. The Macedonia State Park provides a foundation for additional land protection to provide extensive fish and wildlife habitat.
12. Stanley Works Scenic Area
This tract along the east shore of the Housatonic River encompasses about 600 acres in Cornwall and Kent. Although a section of the tract is protected under a federal scenic easement, the towns, local land trusts, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection are working to preserve the parcel.
13. Lake Waramaug Watershed
Lake Waramaug is the first lake designated a Connecticut Heritage Lake under legislation passed in 1998. Protecting the limited undeveloped land remaining around this beautiful and potentially over-developed lake is critical to maintaining water quality.
14. Bull's Bridge Scenic Area
The Bull's Bridge hydropower development, in Kent and New Milford, includes an impoundment created by two dams, a two-mile long power canal, intake structures above two penstocks, and powerhouse. Northeast Utilities owns 270 undeveloped acres associated with the hydropower facility. Protecting these lands would augment 400 acres of federally protected Appalachian Trail corridor land containing numerous critical habitats for rare species.
15. West Aspetuck Aquifer
The Town of New Milford is working to preserve the quality of West Aspetuck River and Aquifer, vital drinking water resources, through the use of both regulatory procedures and land acquisition.
16. Boardman Bridge Scenic Area
Northeast Utilities owns 146 acres of undeveloped Housatonic Riverfront extending about five miles along both shores between New Milford's Gaylordsville section and the Boardman Bridge. This stretch is traversed by dirt River Road, designated as a scenic road by New Milford. Through a partnership between the town, Northeast Utlities, and HVA, the first New Milford segment of the Housatonic RiverBelt Greenway was opened along this riverfront in 1996.
17. Vaughn's Neck/Candlewood Mountain
Northeast Utilities owns approximately 700 acres on Candlewood Mountain and its spur, Vaughn's Neck, on Candlewood Lake. The lake, an impoundment supporting Northeast Generating company's Rocky River pump-storage hydropower plant, is the largest lake in Connecticut and is an important recreational and economic asset for the five towns in which the lake is located and the western region of the state.
18. New Fairfield Agricultural Area
Farmington River Wild and Scenic Area (outside the Housatonic watershed)
The Farmington River winds through the Highland towns of Colebrook, Hartland, Barkhamsted, New Hartford, and Canton, Connecticut. (Located on the map in the upper right corner.)