Back in 1989 the first BLT board members banded together to provide “a receptacle in which owners can place their land to ensure that it either remains undeveloped or is developed according to the donor’s wishes”. Back then the concern was the pace of growth and preserving the rural nature of our community. The first board meeting was held in June that year.
Click here to see a 1989 Hartford Courant article about the origins of the BLT.
The BLT's first assignment was the management of a 13.5 acre easement for the Town off Wildcat Road. In 1994 we took over management of the 186 acre Taine Mountain Preserve for the Nature Conservancy. From the Hartford Courant in September, 1994:
Members of the land trust will regularly inspect the preserve and report to the Conservancy on its condition at least once a year, said Abby Doolittle-White, president of the 80-member land trust. The trust's responsibilities will be to monitor the boundaries, attempt to keep trails clear and remove any litter, she said. "We'll be making sure it's kept in its natural state," she said. "We're going to be doing inspections on a regular basis."
The Burlington Land Trust received its first land donation in 2001 with the 43 acre Martha Brower Preserve. It was a special gift given to the BLT and all the people of Burlington by her husband Mike Brower, who together with his late wife loved and walked the property for 50 years. It contains sections of the Tunxis Trail leading to the Mile of Ledges and the Tory Den. In 2011 the BLT was given an additional abutting 1.5 acres by Art Morenz.
By working with Mr. Brower, BLT president Ann Jurkiewicz established a precedent and legacy of working with willing land owners. We were not against development, we were for working with property owners to achieve our objectives and fulfill our mission. Over the next several years we added 25 acres to the Taine Mountain Preserve.
In late 2013, the Burlington Land Trust was approached by Richard & Marilyn Fetzer. Their home is nestled along a stream with two spectacular waterfalls. They donated 11 acres alongside the stream, a wooded area they walked and enjoyed for many years.
What is not widely known is that the Fetzers left the remainder of their property to the BLT in their will. This includes their home, which sits aside the stream with spectacular views. Marilyn is a member of the committee planning for what will someday be the Seven Steps Falls Nature & Community Center.
In 2015 the Burlington Land Trust was approached by the Ventres family offering to sell 105 acres abutting the Nature Conservancy property on Taine Mountain. This parcel was ripe for development. It would have extended Ventres Way all the way to the Carrier development to the east. The three year process had us working with the Town and the Trust for Public Land to raise the money for the purchase. This was accomplished with Town funds, a BLT contribution and a State Open Space Grant. There are now 300 acres of permanently protected open space on Taine Mountain.
Looking forward, we will continue our mission to acquire, preserve and protect land of scenic, natural or historic value in perpetuity for the benefit of present and future generations. We are proud of our association with the Whigville Preservation Group as they try, with the same work with willing landowners ethic, to preserve and protect their agricultural heritage. Their dedication and commitment has energized us all.
The best part of this year's 30th Anniversary celebration is the reminder that we are and have been, for all these years, part of a very special community. The work we do is a labor of love. We are filled with genuine pride to have played our part in preserving some truly special places, in Preserving Burlington's Beauty.