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Threatened grassland birds in the Quiet Corner just got a boost thanks to a donation of farmland property to the Wyndham Land Trust.
An anonymous donor recently gave 112 acres on Cabbage Hill Road in Woodstock to the Wyndham Land Trust. The land is a mixture of hayfields, meadows, and forests that is now protected from development in perpetuity.
“The new ‘Cabbage Hill Preserve’ is a great asset for us,” said Andy Rzeznikiewicz, land manager for the land trust. “Threatened grassland birds, such as Bobolinks, nest in the hayfield. We will let a local farmer continue to cut hay in the field, but the first cut will be taken after July 15 to allow time for the young birds to fledge.
“The hayfield sits on a hill that rises to an elevation of 750 feet,” continued Rzeznikiewicz, “and older maps of Woodstock refer to it as Mathewson Hill. Most of the rest of the property is forested. Bosworth Brook flows through the southern portion, and a beaver impoundment blocks the brook on the western edge. The resulting combination of forested stream and open swamp provides diverse wetland habitats for both plants and animals.”
“The donated property sits in a remote section of Woodstock and Pomfret that we’re actively working to protect,” said the land trust’s President, Mike St. Lawrence. “We’ve christened the project ‘Nightingale Forest’ because it lies in the watershed of Nightingale Brook. Our preserves in the Nightingale Forest, together with open space protected by the town of Woodstock, already cover over 865 acres. It’s big enough to provide a corridor for the movement of wildlife and serve as a buffer to protect water quality.
“We’re very grateful to the generous people that have donated land and funding to make Nightingale Forest possible. Together we are making an important contribution to preserving the ecology of this small piece of the Quiet Corner.”
The public is welcome to visit the new preserve. Parking is available at the end of Cabbage Hill Road, and a set of mowed hiking trails runs through the parcel. One of the trails leads deep into the woods to a cemetery dating back to the end of the 19th century. The lichen-covered headstones of the Mathewson and Hammond families, and the omnipresent stone walls, are a silent witness to the farming community that once worked this land. The forest is also a testament to the stewardship of the native American Nipmuck tribe that lived productive lives on this land for many centuries before European settlers arrived.