At its 49th Annual Meeting on March 22, the Old Lyme Land Trust (OLTT) presented its Land Saver Award to the McCulloch Family in recognition of the family’s extraordinary vision and generosity.
Inspired by their mother, “Rook” Metzger McCulloch, who instilled in them the principle of stewardship, and by their love of the land, David and Jean McCulloch, Catherine Taffy Holland and Mary Jean McCulloch Vasiloff donated a conservation easement on 434 acres known as the McCulloch Farm in 2000. The easement, held by The Nature Conservancy, restricts the use and prevents further development of the property.
Lying in the Black Hall River Watershed, the land has extraordinary conservation value. With this portion of the watershed protected, the Great Island tidal marsh complex with its rich and diverse wildlife is protected as well.
Christina Clayton, President of OLLT, noted that Old Lyme residents receive benefits from the donation in addition to the conservation ones. The McCulloch Farm lies along Whippoorwill Road in the center of town and contributes significantly to the rural character of Old Lyme. And the taxpayers remain unburdened by the cost of services that residential development of this large tract would have imposed.
Dr. Robert A. Askins, Katherine Blunt Professor of Biology at Connecticut College, was the guest speaker at the annual meeting. Dr. Askins is a renowned ornithologist and expert on ecology and conservation biology, who recently published a book entitled, “Conservation of Deciduous Forests in New England, Japan and Europe.”
Dr. Askins spoke about the need for a blended approach to the conservation of New England’s forests, in order to protect the greatest number of both plant and animal species. Large tracts of unfragmented forest are necessary for a number of threatened and endangered species, but others, such as the endangered New England cottontail and several species of songbirds, require early successional habitats, such a thickets and grassy openings in the forest canopy.
The OLLT plans to incorporate Dr. Askins’s recommendations into the management plans for its preserves.