Baldwin Hill Preserve

Baldwin Hill Preserve
10 acres and 68 acres

Landscape-scale conservation is a process that often unfolds over many years, but the collective vision of neighbors can create lasting protection that will safeguard water quality, habitat for wildlife, and farmland soils for future generations. In the Town of Washington, neighbors Robert Copen, Tal Fagin, David Faber, and Jenny Harris permanently protected hilltop land along Baldwin Hill in New Preston in a two-step process that continues the legacy of the previous landowners. The result is that 78 acres on Baldwin Hill are permanently protected from development.
NCLC: Why did you decide to protect this land with NCLC?
This land has been open space in New Preston for many years and was last used as farmland in
the early 1980s. As long-time residents with homes next to the land, we had watched a
succession of sales occur over the years, with each subsequent owner drawing up ambitious
architectural plans for the construction of large homes, outbuildings, pools, tennis courts, and
more. Thankfully none of these plans reached fruition, but the risk that this beautiful land
would one day be forever altered remained.
Over this time, our two families developed both a close friendship and a shared concern for
preserving the rural character, open space, and abundant wildlife in our neighborhood. Both of
our homes are directly across the street from Averill Farm, a working farm exceeding 200 acres
which has been continuously owned and operated by the Averill family since 1746. In the
1990s, the Averill family sold the development rights of the farm’s acreage to the State of
Connecticut. The effect of this has been tremendously beneficial to the entire surrounding
area, including the historic district of Calhoun Street.
When, during the pandemic, the land sold once again our families determined that if the
opportunity arose for us to team our resources and terminate the risk of future development
we would act boldly to do so. We got lucky. Through a series of unpredictable events, the new
owners decided to abandon their development plan for building an estate from scratch, and
instead bought a local home they could move into immediately. They listed the land for sale.
Rejoicing at this potential opportunity, we were able to quickly negotiate a purchase. We then
began a multi-year process to construct a conservation plan, which culminated in the gift we
made to the land trust in December. Our local attorney, James Kelly, drove the strategy behind
the project, and Catherine and the whole team at the land trust were phenomenal to work
with. We can’t thank everyone enough and are thrilled with the result for us, our neighbors and
the Town of Washington.
NCLC: What do you wish everyone knew about land conservation?
Land conservation is typically a win/win endeavor. Residents and the town benefit in a myriad
of ways from the preservation of open space and the responsible stewardship of the land.
NCLC: Can you think of an experience you had that inspired a love of the natural world?
It is kind of hokey, but we acquired the land via a legal entity we chose to name “Scoop River
LLC”. “Scoop” and “River” are the names of our respective family dogs! Wandering out and
about over the past many years with them inspired us to appreciate nature in new ways —
through their eyes (and noses) rather than just through the human lens.

Member Spotlight: Anthony Ficalora

Long-time NCLC member, Anthony Ficalora, works out regularly sporting his NCLC cap. At 100, he has seen many changes in the landscape and understands what is at stake. We wanted to know more about why he loves this part of Connecticut.
Q: What makes Northwest Connecticut a special place?
Anthony: “In 1969, I first answered a “Land for Sale” ad in Bridgewater, Connecticut. My interest in Bridgewater goes back many years. Bridgewater was the perfect hide-away, with undulating land, charming farms, and interesting architectural homes with splashing ponds, an old-fashioned general store, a post office, and churches on two corners on Route 133. Driving through Bridgewater reminded me of the Tom Mix western movies. As a young boy I remember the scenery of tall evergreen trees in between rocky terrains and the undulation of hills in those films.
The more I toured the area, the more fascinated I became of Bridgewater. Beautiful Lake Lillinonah surrounded by green trees is an unbelievable dream setting of high willowing trees reflecting on the lake’s surfaces. Riding along Lake Lillinonah, there was an unusual Arabian horse farm. This was an unexpected sight at this colorful location. Driving further along Lake Lillinonah, I discovered Lovers Leap Park that was dedicated in 2007. The leap of Lover’s Leap is a rock formation, overlooking Lake Lillinonah where, tradition has it, the Pootatuck Chief Waramaug’s daughter, Princess Lillinonah and her lover, plunged to their deaths. This was Indian Territory with lots of history. There are many historical sites with Northwest Connecticut Land Trusts that will be enjoyed forever.
I must compliment Catherine M. Rawson, Executive Director, and talented staff, for their creative approach in expanding NCLC’s interests throughout Connecticut for generations to enjoy”