Open Space Commission

The Town of Old Lyme seeks to protect and preserve land.

Natural Resources

Situated on the east side of the Connecticut River where it meets Long Island Sound, Old Lyme’s most outstanding natural feature is its estuarine environment. Hundreds of acres of protected tidal marsh fringe the river. Large estuarine islands, protected coves and rocky headlands enhance the riverfront. Along the fourteen miles of Long Island Sound shorefront, beach strands are narrow and interspersed with rocky bluffs, small rivers and streams. Inland from the coastal plain, three linear ridges run north to south, delineating the boundaries of the major drainage basins of the Lieutenant, Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers. Smaller streams are the Duck River, Mile Creek, Armstrong Brook and Swan Brook. An estimated 2,000 acres of inland wetlands are a major component of these drainage systems. To the north, Rogers Lake covers about 300 acres in the Towns of Old Lyme and Lyme.

Water or wetlands, including rivers, ponds, lakes and their associated wetlands and tidal wetlands associated with Long Island Sound make up one-fifth of the town’s area.

One-half of the town is forested, predominantly in the northern portion along its boundary with the Town of Lyme.

Open Space

In the decade leading up to 2000, Old Lyme took several steps to formalize its commitment to open space. In 1997, at the urging of the Planning Commission, the town approved the establishment of a land-acquisition fund whereby money would be set aside annually to aid in acquiring open space. The town created an Open Space Committee and drafted an Open Space Plan that forms the basis for the acquisition, preservation and management of town-owned open space. Following the formation of the Open Space Committee, a generous gift of 107 acres of land on Buttonball Road was donated to the town from the Bartholomew family in 1998. In 2010, the town via a new ordinance turned the committee into the present Open Space Commission with its members appointed by the Board of Selectman. Today, the town owns over 600 acres of open space land, with many miles of hiking trails.

In addition to town owned land, the Old Lyme Land Trust, a private land trust established in 1966, owns over 70 properties covering over 1,000 acres of land in Old Lyme. The Open Space Committee and the Old Lyme Land Trust have a close working relationship, and hope to develop a town-wide trail system in the future.

Policies

Land should be set aside as open space in accordance with the town’s Open Space Plan to preserve important natural resources, protect drainage ways and bodies of water, provide for passive recreation and maintain the visual and aesthetic rural character of the town. Where possible, existing open-space parcels should be linked and augmented to form large, un-fragmented tracts of field and forest. Existing public trails should be connected to provide an extended system for hiking, bicycling, jogging, bird watching and nature study. Public access points for non-motorized water- related recreation should be encouraged. Farming and the production of local food sources should be supported. The habitat of those wildlife species that are identified in the State’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy should be given highest priority for acquisition and protection.

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Commission Members

Name Title
Peter Cable Secretary
Amanda Blair Co-Chair
William Dunbar Co-Chair
Bruce Baratz Member
Gary Gregory Member
Evan Griswold Member
Vacancy One Alternate
Vacancy Two Alternate
Gregory Futoma Member
Peter Norris Land Steward