Why is there a Conservation Commission and a Land Conservancy?
photo by chele modica
The Conservation Commission and the Land Conservancy of Ridgefield are both dedicated to preserving open space and natural resources in Ridgefield. While they often collaborate, one organization is public, and the other is private.
The Conservation Commission is a town-appointed board with nine volunteer members who each serve three-year terms. Their mission is to promote responsible development, conservation, supervision, and regulation of the town’s natural resources. The Commission manages more than 2,500 acres of town-owned open space, and members act in an advisory capacity for planning and zoning, as well as inland wetlands issues. The board’s responsibilities include maintaining 50 miles of public trails, and helping the town achieve its goal of 30 percent permanently protected open space through acquisition and donations.
One of the oldest land trusts in the state, the Land Conservancy of Ridgefield is a private, non-profit group that advocates for and promotes the permanent preservation of natural resources in town. Operated by a 12-member board, the Conservancy owns and maintains 520 acres of land, and manages 200 acres in conservation easements—an easement keeps the land in its natural state but doesn’t convey ownership to the organization. Land donated to the Conservancy does not necessarily make the property public, but most properties allow some public access. Land Conservancy properties are sometimes marked with small signs on trees.