Center for Conservation and Biodiversity

CCB News and Recent Activities

The Center has been actively working with The Nature Conservancy, DEP Geological and Natural History Survey, DEP Land Acquisition and Property Management unit, rare species biologists, and Towns of Falls Village and Canaan to preserve land along the marble ridge west of Sand Road in Canaan. The site has one of the highest concentrations of rare plant and animal life in the State--six species of state-listed plants and five species of state-listed butterflies and moths occur along the 1.5-mile ridge. Several of these organisms, including the exquisite northern metalmark, are globally imperiled entities.

In 2003, Dr. Bernard Goffinet and a group of bryologists and lichenologists on a field trip discovered two "plants" new to Connecticut at the south end of the ridge, at Point-of-Rocks. One of these, a moss, Neckera besseri , was previously known from many sites across eastern North America and Europe, but had not been reported from New England. The lichen, Agonimia opuntiella was known from Europe and only a few sites in the south and southwestern part of the United States--it had not been previously reported north of New Jersey.

The ridge and its rare communities are facing several threats. White-tailed deer browse is severe along reaches of the property. As is the case across the region, invasive species are posing an ever-increasing threat to the plant communities, especially along Sand Road and the two limestone quarries. However, the most immediate threat is limestone quarrying--thousands of cubic tons of limestone are slated for removal over the net few years.

Co-directors Wagner and Silander have written three letters since the first of the year to draw attention to the ecological and conservation significance of the land. On May 1st., Wagner and Ken Metzler (DEP Geological and Natural History Survey) testified before a combined meeting of the Falls Village Conservation Commission, Town Planning and Zoning Committee, and Board of Selectmen about the area's importance.

We recently received word that the State and The Nature Conservancy are making an offer to purchase the Weidenhammer Property at the south end of the ridge system. This acquisition would preserve ¾ of Point-of-Rocks, a south-facing slope, with numerous rare plants--regarded by some to be one of Connecticut's "botanical crown jewels". The Center is continuing to work with the Towns, quarry managers, land owners, and other interested parties to preserve other properties along the reach of this unique limestone outcrop.