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Lyme - The Lyme Land Conservation Trust announced Wednesday that it has acquired a 46-acre woodland preserve on Gungy Road, which it called the key remaining link in its effort to form an east-west greenway that runs across an eight-mile stretch of Lyme and East Lyme.
The trust said it made the purchase with donations from the Sargent family in honor of the late David C. Sargent, a Connecticut naturalist who helped with natural preservation initiatives along the shoreline.
The trust said the preserve will be named Walbridge Woodlands at the request of the Sargent family.
The trust said the preserve "features a dramatic ridge with seasonal views of the surrounding forests, striking stone outcroppings and ledge rock, quiet wetlands, and the remains of a unique stonewall livestock enclosure that hints of the land's pastoral history."
The trust said the preserve will remain as forested uplands and wetlands. It plans to open the preserve to the public for hiking and nature appreciation as soon as it can develop trails and pathways.
"Walbridge Woodlands is a fitting tribute to David Sargent," said trust President John Pritchard in a statement. "We look forward to working with three generations of the Sargent family - his wife, children and grandchildren - to make Walbridge Woodlands a sanctuary where visitors can connect with nature and learn about the natural world."
The trust said Walbridge Woodlands now connects existing greenway corridors in East Lyme and Lyme. The greenway now runs from Darrow Pond in East Lyme west to almost the Connecticut River. The new preserve also links several preserved properties that run in a north-south direction.
"It is the final piece of fabric in a quilt work of open space preserved by the state, the towns of Lyme and East Lyme, The Nature Conservancy, our land trust, Yale University, and private land owners who have placed permanent conservation easements on their properties," Pritchard said.
"Together, all of these protected areas safeguard a rare diversity of habitats, including streams, fields, wetlands and several woodland forest types as well as critical watershed lands containing several miles of high quality tributaries of several important waterways, including the Connecticut River and the Wild and Scenic Eightmile River."