WESTPORT, CT – Aspetuck Land Trust (ALT) announced a merger with the Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy (MLT) that will become effective on July 1.
With the merger, ALT extends its land conservation work from its original four town focus — Easton, Weston, Fairfield and Westport — to five towns. The addition of Monroe brings an additional 20 acres of Monroe conservation lands under ALT’s overall watch and protection.
ALT, founded in 1966, will now own or manage more than 2,000 acres of conserved land and have an expanded total membership of more than, 1,700 people. Monroe Land Trust was established about 10 years ago after the predecessor organization, Monroe Field and Woods, was dormant for a number of years. The Monroe Land Trust name will no longer be officially used after July 1 as the landowner of record.
ALT and MLT board members have been in discussion about their two land trusts coming together for several years. The final arrangement was facilitated with the assistance of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC).
Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that preserve land through purchase, conservation easements, or donations of property. Properties that are preserved are important habitats for plants and wildlife. They protect water quality, agricultural land, and scenic and historic places. More information on ALT’s existing preserves and conservation activity is available on the Aspetuck Land Trust website: aspetucklandtrust.org.
“Our board is very excited to join with Aspetuck Land Trust. We share the same values and commitment to land conservation,” said Barbara Thomas, an MLT board member who was instrumental in negotiating the merger.
Thomas also noted the enduring contribution of Karl Witalis, one of the founders of the MLT.
“One of our prime reasons for wanting to merge with Aspetuck is that we know that plants and wildlife don’t recognize town borders, and a larger vision for preserving natural areas is necessary,” Thomas said. “As a small land trust we struggled to acquire the resources needed to preserve land. We sought to become part of an organization that has more resources and is already making a significant impact in open space preservation.”
Bill Kraekel, president Aspetuck Land Trust, echoed Barbara’s sentiments.
“The Aspetuck Land Trust has always had a regional view of conservation,” he said. “Adding Monroe is a natural extension of our mission and programs. Our Green Corridor initiative takes a holistic view of the landscape that goes beyond town boundaries. That is why we are so excited to have MLT and the town of Monroe join our land trust. We believe that this merger enables us to protect more of the open spaces in our region that are so important to us and future generations.”
He noted Monroe has some beautiful undeveloped land, which is becoming rare in Fairfield County. He said the newly constituted Aspetuck Land Trust hopes to partner with landowners to preserve these areas forever for people to enjoy and to support the wildlife that depends on it.
The land assets held by MLT are being transferred to ALT. Barbara Thomas will be joining the ALT Board and MLT members and volunteers will participate on ALT committees and a number of volunteer activities.
“This is a model and an inspiration for other land trusts across the state,” said Amy Blaymore Paterson, executive director of CLCC. “We are grateful to the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation for underwriting CLCC’s program to assist in implementing this merger, which will benefit land conservation in Southwest Connecticut for generations to come.”