The Neary Conservation Easement
One of our most recently received conservation easements, this 74-acre parcel was given to the Land Trust by Rebecca and Jim Neary in December 2011. Located off of Melius Road, the easement abuts the Melius and Douglas Preserves, which are also under the purview of the Land Trust. Together, these parcels comprise a significant swath of protected forest and fields not far from the center of town.
The Neary easement features several acres of prime agricultural land, currently farmed for silage corn and hay. It also contains a diverse patchwork of upland forest, forested wetland and open water wetland, including a headwater system that feeds into Sucker Brook, the main watershed for Lake Waramaug. There are also steeply sloped areas marked by rocky outcroppings.
Historically, the land was used for agriculture, timber harvesting and pasture, as is evidenced by the stone walls, tree stumps and wood roads that crisscross the property. There are also remnants of an old apple orchard in a section of abandoned field near the parcel's western border.
The easement's forests and wetlands support a diverse array of flora and fauna. The former include white and red oak, varieties of birch and maple, and beech, ash and hickory. Most notable among the latter are the species that exist in the parcel's vernal pools, which create a unique fishless habitat for newts, salamanders and fairy shrimp.