Eighty acres of Westerly farmland and forest bequeathed to land trust
Westerly — The Westerly Land Trust will conserve an 80-acre parcel of forest and farmland that a longtime resident bequeathed to the conservation group for preservation as open space.
Eleanor Barlow left the property to the land trust when she died in 2016. It includes a 10-acre hay field, a house where Barlow and her husband lived part-time, upland forest and freshwater wetlands adjacent to the state-owned Newton Marsh.
The land is appraised at about $1 million, said Kelly Presley, the land trust's executive director.
It also features upland areas that could be used for walking trails and overlooks, Presley said.
"There are no trails at this time," Presley said. "But we are looking at what would be appropriate for the property."
The land trust, founded in 1987, has conserved more than 1,600 acres of forest, grasslands, agricultural fields and wetlands including a 134-acre park off of Shore Road in Westerly and the 482-acre Grills Preserve on the Pawcatuck River.
The donation of the Barlow parcel at the intersection of Westerly-Bradford Road and Dunns Corners-Bradford Road, now known as the Eleanor F. & Edward W. Barlow Nature Preserve, brings the land trust's total acreage close to 1,700, Presley said.
"It's a significant addition, ecologically and size-wise," Presley said.
The Westerly Land Trust also owns seven buildings under restoration in downtown Westerly, including the United Theater, Montgomery Ward, and Industrial Trust buildings.
The property was transferred from the Barlow estate through a trust company with the help of Barlow's brother-in-law and her niece, who oversaw the administration and distribution of the estate.
The property is part of Aguntaug Swamp, the second-largest freshwater wetland complex in Rhode Island.
The land trust will continue to allow hay production on the property and will conserve the rest of the land as open space.
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