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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.