Submitted by Haddam Land Trust
(April 14, 2023) — The Board of the Haddam Land Trust is pleased to announce the acquisition of a new parcel for conservation: the eight acre Clark’s Wharf Preserve. Located on Saybrook Road, just south of the Route 82 intersection in Tylerville, the preserve protects a quarter-mile of the tidal wetlands of Clark’s Creek, a tributary to the Connecticut River.
As a freshwater tidal wetland, it supports a wide diversity of native plants and provides important habitat for numerous animals, including known endangered species. The preserve’s name acknowledges Dudley Clark, a former inhabitant of Haddam, and the historic landing (Clark’s Wharf) at the mouth of the creek bordering the southerly end of the property. Clark’s Creek, known for the cascading waterfall across Saybrook Road, is a largely protected watershed of Class I water quality, and a recognized native brook trout stream.
Support for the acquisition is being provided by a grant from the Connecticut River Gateway Commission and private donors. Proposed wildlife improvements to support native and endangered populations are being funded by a generous grant from the Mary Janvrin and Natalie Janvrin Wiggins Fund for Birds, Other Animals and Nature of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, and a paddle watercraft put-in is planned for the property, providing public access to the Connecticut River and Chapman’s Pond directly opposite.
We want to call special attention to the unusual circumstances of this acquisition. Seven months ago, we came across a notice of the tax sale of this property by the Town of Haddam. At the time, the sale date was less than a month away, and given the due diligence necessary, there was not enough time to raise funds or get commitments. Our acquisition experiences until this point hadn’t utilized this process; for us, this was an entirely new path and act of faith. Based on the back taxes and assumed transactional fees we authorized funds for the Town auction. Bidding was the responsibility of our VP, Peter Smith.
On auction day, most of the Board participated and were surprised to learn that the minimum bid exceeded our estimate by nearly five thousand dollars! The Board members present acted decisively to exceed the authorized amount and took responsibility for this success. Your Board is a brave, committed group. The tax sale process required a six month redemption period and on April 5, 2023 the deed was filed. The whole transaction was, to us, new and speculative, requiring courage of conviction, last-minute action, and trust and responsibility, or in one word – leadership.
We would be remiss not to mention that this transaction would have been a non-starter but for the extremely generous gift of an HLT member. The gift gave us the ability to rapidly respond to this short-timeline opportunity by easing the necessity of upfront fundraising. The Clark’s Wharf Preserve acquisition was the first time we have utilized this new tool and it is amazing! Had it not been available, we likely would have, regretfully, passed on this project.
Haddam Land Trust is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that conserves land for the benefit of Haddam residents. We manage more than 1100 acres in Haddam and will be celebrating our 60th year of environmental protection in 2024. As an all-volunteer organization, we rely on the support of the community and encourage your participation. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to connect with us. We can be contacted through our website, Facebook, and Instagram (@haddamlandtrust).