CLINTON LAND CONSERVATION TRUST, INC.
45th ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
FOR THE PERIOD OCTOBER 18, 2011 to OCTOBER 15, 2012
We started our fiscal year with investments and cash totaling $553,590.32 and ended our fiscal year on August 31, 2012 with a cash value of all investments totaling $585,273.74. This represents a net increase in our endowment portfolio of $31,683.42.
Dividends and interest earned on investments this year totaled $17,781.74. We received $3,735.00 in membership dues and $500.00 in general donations. Additionally, the Trust received a generous gift of $3,750.00 from former Trust President, Lou Bougie. At Lou’s request, this money will be used to purchase and erect an outdoor placard that will provide both historical and environmental information about the Hammock River Salt Marsh. The placard will be located on the property that was donated to the Trust by the Richards family at the Hammocks development. We received $250.00 in donations for the David and Alice Crosby Scholarship, $210.00 for land acquisition, $410.00 for programs and maintenance and $900.00 from general donations, $500.00 of which came from Lenny and Joe’s FishTale.
We had expenses of $25,420.79 this year, compared with $15,514.38 last year, which represents an increase of $9,906.41. The most significant expenditures this year were the hiring of a grant writer for the purchase of open space property and two assessments of that property, which were required as part of the grant application process. The timeline of this annual report does not include the recent purchase of that open space, but I feel I would be remiss if I did not report that the Board has recently purchased the Dowd property, totaling 16.68 acres of land at the end of Cream Pot Road. The Trust paid $180,000.00 for the two parcels of land that abut the Land Trust’s Jesse Buell Forest. The State has projected that the grant awards will be announced in mid-December. Over the coming year we will be organizing fundraising events to help offset the cost of the loan for this purchase.
Other significant expenditures this year were $3,007.00 for insurance, which is an increase of $1,349.00 over last year because the Trust acquired liability coverage for the Board members. Also $112.00 for maintenance of property, $909.00 for boundary and trail maintenance, $1,049.40 for our Website and network support, $3,326.64 for printing and postage costs, $2,450.00 for accounting fees, and $3,000.00 in donations to our two scholarships--$1,000.00 to the David and Alice Crosby Scholarship and $2,000.00 to the Eunice Carter Symonds Scholarships. The Trust also made a $1,000.00 donation to the Summer Ecology Camp and a $300.00 donation to the Henry Carter Hull Library summer program in memory of our much-loved former secretary, Lynnabeth Mays.
The Finance Committee, which includes our treasurer Jack Breen, Ken McDonnell, bookkeeper Annie Sterna, Mike Houde and Dave Adams from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, has had another busy year. We have provided an audited annual report with exact figures and totals, a copy of which is attached hereto. This report will also be posted on our Website within the next week or two. We completed and filed our 990 Tax Return as required by the IRS.
Despite the volatility of the stock market during the past year, the Trust’s investment plan has kept our portfolio balanced and relatively secure.
We received two parcels of land this past year in the salt marsh on Grove Way, one is .69 acres and the other .51 acres. Additionally, we purchased the 16.68 acres on Cream Pot Road. The total acreage owned by the Trust is now 814.29 acres. The list of properties held by the Trust is attached hereto. The Trust also owns conservation easements on six privately owned parcels representing approximately 20 acres.
STEWARDSHIP OF LAND
Frank Byrne continued as chair of our Land Management Committee, which includes Vice President Dana Whitney, Greg Mirando and Gary Stevens. This committee is charged with resolving land management issues, including identifying and inspecting properties and boundaries and organizing trail clearing and other maintenance projects. Frank and his Land Management Committee, along with our volunteers, continued their regular monthly work days held on the second Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at various properties as listed on our Website.
The main focus again this past year has been continued maintenance of trails on our main properties: Peters Memorial Woods, Jesse Buell Forest, Kenilworth Forest and Chittenden Hill Preserve. Last year, with the help of many volunteers and a Federal grant from the Agricultural Department, the Wildlife Meadow at the Jesse Buell Forest was seeded. This year, maintenance continues on the Wildflower Meadow, which was created in memory of Lynnabeth Mays.
This past spring, volunteers and Board members cleared debris from our osprey nests at various locations. This past year has been another good year for our ospreys, with almost all of the nesting platforms having been occupied.
Vice President, Dana Whitney, completed the forest inventory project at the Peters Memorial Woods. This inventory has enabled the Trust to establish a value on the trees and vegetation, in case a hurricane, fire or other natural disaster should occur. The value base will allow the Trust to get funding from the Federal Government to help with the costs of reforesting. This inventory will take place on all of our major land holdings over the next few years.
In April of this year, members of the Land Management Committee along with volunteers worked at the Deane Haag Property cleaning up storm damage to trails from Tropical Storm Irene. They relocated a small wooden bridge to reroute an existing trail. Additionally, in April all of our major properties with trails were surveyed for storm damage, and trails were cleaned up where hanging branches or fallen trees interfered with trail passage and the safety of hikers.
In May, the Trust participated in the Morgan School’s “Husky Helper Day” when students volunteered in various community efforts throughout town. Land Management Chairman, Frank Byrne, worked with Mr. Ali Izadi and Morgan School students at the Peters Memorial Woods. Over the course of the day, they moved gravel at the entrance driveway to repair drainage problems, cut up fallen hemlocks that had died a number of years ago from the woolly adelgid infestation and cleaned up the Spoonwood entrance to Peters Woods of fallen branches and tree limbs and dragged them off into the forest away from the trails.
In June, Land Management held a workday at the Hammocks where volunteers trimmed shrubs, weeded planting beds at out parking lot and cleared leaves and other debris. The Committee also continues to monitor the Trust’s largest easement property on the lower Indian River.
OUTREACH AND EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS
Sally Heffernan continued as chair of our Outreach Committee, which also includes Larry Ouellette, Mike Castiglione, Judy Postemsky and Dana Skidmore. This committee has been in charge of publicity and environmental education through various events throughout the year.
The 15th Annual Alice and David Crosby Scholarship was awarded this year to 2012 Morgan School graduate, Sean O’Brien, who is currently attending Quinnipiac University majoring in biology. The Board wishes Sean all the best in his studies.
The 3rd annual Eunice Carter Symonds Scholarships were awarded this year. 4th and 5th grade students at the Abraham Pierson School were asked to write an essay stating why they wanted to be recipients of the scholarship to attend the Bushy Hill Day Camp. The scholarship winners were Ashley Schroff, Isabella Recine, Rachel Flanagan and Matt Ford. Each student attended a two-week session at the Bushy Hill Camp in Essex, hiking, swimming and exploring the beautiful 700-acre camp property and learning about the natural environment there. Bushy Hill Camp’s program has been recognized nationally and has been used as a model for environmental camp programs across the country. It’s our hope that this experience has sparked a life-long love of and interest in the natural world for our scholarship recipients.
In February, the Trust sponsored a Winter Animal Tracking Program called “Who’s Been in My Back Yard?” at the Indian River Complex. This free event was held during the school vacation and both the morning and afternoon sessions were full. Eric Becker of the Bushy Hill Camp did an excellent job engaging and teaching a large group of kids how to identify different animal tracks in the snow.
In March we sponsored an information booth again at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Expo.
In April we sponsored the tenth annual Peeper Patrol with a fascinating and fun presentation by Chuck Annicelli and John Picard at the Indian River Sports Complex, thrilling many children with live specimens of various amphibians on display, a slide show and audio presentation of a wide variety of frogs and finally culminating in the annual expedition into the woods and vernal pool adjacent to the playing fields.
At the end of May, Board members Mike Houde and Dana Skidmore held another of the annual field trips to the Town Beach with students from the Abraham Pierson School for the annual “Pierson Beach Day.” The students learned about marine biology and ecology from Board member Dana Skidmore, who is also a teacher at the Pierson School. The students also learned about the life and travels of ospreys from Board member Mike Houde, and this year the Clinton Shellfish Commissions also participated with a station to talk to the students about the reintroduction of oysters into the Hammock River and the Clinton Harbor.
In June we planned to sponsor another Connecticut Forest and Park Association Trail Day hike in Peters Memorial Woods, but the hike was rained out.
From the end of June into the beginning of July, Dana Skidmore conducted another ecology camp for children ages 7 to 10 at the Town Beach and at our Peters Memorial Woods. The camp is co-sponsored by the Clinton Park and Recreation Department and the Trust. This year, we had a record number of 80 children participating. The Trust provided T-shirts for each camper along with some supplies. A slide show of the Camp’s activities can be seen on our Website.
In August the Trust co-sponsored a summer program with the Henry Carter Hull Library in honor of our beloved former secretary, Lynnabeth Mays. The event was held this year at the Town Beach on an evening in late August. Bob Crelin hosted a stargazing event that was well attended by many Clinton families. Unfortunately the scheduled night of the event turned out to be too cloudy to do any stargazing but the group reconvened the following night for a spectacular show of stars.
In September the Outreach Committee again joined thousands of volunteers worldwide in the International Beach Clean-up Day. Board members, along with a group of our loyal volunteers, friends, Morgan School students and members of Clinton’s Pretty Committee collected 574 pounds of trash from beaches along the Clinton Harbor, Hammock River and Cedar Island. Each year all the debris is categorized and documented and the results are sent to the State for analysis. Following the clean-up, the Trust hosted a cook-out at the town beach for all the volunteers.
Glynis Houde has continued in the role of Newsletter Editor and two issues were published this year. The letters are mailed to our members and also posted on our Website.
John Pease of Networks Plus continues to maintain our Website, www.clintonlandtrust.org
with the help of Judy Postemsky. The Website received a total of 1,643 visits from 25 countries, including Brazil, Taiwan, Russia, and India. 1,543 visits were from the United States and 1,079 of those were from Connecticut.
GRANTS AND LAND ACQUISITION
This committee, formed early in 2010, is comprised of chairperson Chuck Anicelli, Mike Castiglioni, Larry Ouellette, Greg Mirando and Frank Byrne. The Committee’s charge is to provide the Trust with information about Federal and State Grant Funding opportunities and information about land acquisition opportunities. This year proved to be a busy year in land acquisition for the Trust. Back in 2003, the Trust began looking at purchasing the Dowd property at the end of Cream Pot Road. There were meetings, negotiations and a verbal agreement, but eventually the deal fell through, and the property has remained undeveloped since. Then, late last year, the Dowds contacted the Trust to see if we would be interested in purchasing not only the original 10.1 acres that was offered in 2003, but an additional 6.58 acres as well. The Board discussed the purchase and made an offer but it was rejected again by the Dowds. After a number of months passed, the Land Acquisition Committee took another look at what was financially possible and approached the Board again about the purchase of the Dowd property. After much discussion and debate, the Board voted to purchase the property at the asking price. The Dowds were contacted about the Trust’s decision and agreed to sell the property to the Trust. The Board hired Judy Preston, a grant writer, and with her help, completed the State application for an open space grant. State grants will not be awarded until sometime in mid December but with the help of our financial advisor, Dave Adams, we were able to work out a plan of how to finance the purchase of the property with or without State grant money. On September 27, 2012 the Clinton Land Conservation Trust purchased the Dowd property. To my knowledge, this is only the second time in its 40 plus year history that the Trust has purchased property. This property will now be protected from development and will become part of the Jesse Buell Forest. Purchasing a property that is contiguous to an existing land trust holding fits perfectly with the State and Town’s plan for conservation and development. An environmental review of the property was prepared by our grant writer, Judy Preston, and will so be posted on our Website. I encourage you all to read the review and, as soon as we create some new trails, to hike the property.
Our secretary, Sue Savitt, has updated our membership and continues to keep it current. Our total number of active memberships of individuals, families and businesses who renew annually, plus the life memberships is 153. The breakdown of memberships is as follows:
· Individual Members: 26
· Family Members: 45
· Life Members: 80
· Business Members: 2
Our membership categories continue to be as follows:
· Individual Annual ($15)
· Family Annual ($25)
· Business Annual ($40)
· Individual Life ($100)
· Family Life ($150)
I would like to take this opportunity, as I do each year, to extend our sincere thanks to all the volunteers who have given their time to help the Board achieve its goals over this past year. We couldn’t do all we do without your help.
The process of purchasing the Dowd property this year has caused me to think a lot about values, and how we assess the value of one thing over another, particularly in the context of investing for the public good. Where do we as individuals and families find value, where do we as a society find value? Value is found in Walmart, right? “Save Money. Live Better.” One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Value is found everywhere and in everything. My mom used to say if you have your health, you have it all. The banker sees value as money in the bank, the aesthetic in a beautiful day, the mystic in the Eternal Now and the nature lover deep in the Adirondack woods.
Value, as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and so is very difficult to define. But if it is possible to identify a single commonly held value, then it might be environmental conservation to one degree or another. It seems that most would agree there is practical and monetary value, as well as aesthetic and recreational value in preserving the natural world.
The natural world is perhaps the original source of practical value for all of humankind, as it has always provided us with everything we need to live. Land areas that provide the best food source and travel routes are the highest valued even to this day.
Preserving open space is one of the biggest ways a land trust can further conservation, and the benefits go beyond environmental preservation. Addressing today’s practical and monetary advantages to open space, the Land Trust Alliance stated in a recent article, “When land is protected, the adjacent land often increases in value. Saving land from development is often the best way to reduce government spending and avoid increases in property taxes…Communities with lots of protected land are perceived as nicer places to live, attracting businesses and people; they also attract non-resident visitors who put new dollars into local economies.”
Additionally, open space areas prevent ground water contamination, a problem that can quickly reduce property values, as we have seen in our own town. Furthermore, open space areas reduce storm water run off, thereby reducing storm water management costs.
The aesthetic and recreational value of open space is evident by the numbers of people seen enjoying a beautiful day in the parks and preserves all over the world. Land trusts protect the places where people of all ages can find nature, beauty and maybe some peace. Here in Clinton, our woods and trails provide an opportunity to disconnect from the world of technology and allow us to reconnect with ourselves. Anyone who can appreciate the color of a blue sky, the warmth of a sunny day, and the sound of the birds in Spring is making a connection to the natural world…it’s part of being human.
As Henry Theroux said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
Michael J. Houde
President of the Clinton Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
December 3, 2012