New Canaan Nature Center

Recent Articles

‘Fantastic’ GreenLink Trail Attracts Athletes, Nature Lovers

It has been a little less than three months since the grand opening of New Canaan’s “GreenLink” trail and “greenway,” a walkable loop that includes, Irwin Park and the Nature Center. It traverses three New Canaan Land Trust properties, allowing citizens to take full advantage of their bounty. Some say that you can’t take the GreenLink path without seeing at least one fellow resident taking a stroll, so we took it upon ourselves to peruse around and find out how people are feeling about it. Jogging down the trail, New Canaan resident Katherine Mettler said the quality path for her knees helped with running. “At some trails, like Waveny, running on the pavement can be really hard on your knees,” she said. Continue Reading →

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‘They Are Very Fancy Donkeys’: Nature Center Plans New Barn for Donated Animals

Town officials on Tuesday unanimously approved two items related to a proposed new barn at New Canaan Nature Center whose occupants will include four donkeys. The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 on a pair of proposals, for the construction of the barn itself in Bliss Park as well as the merger of two parcels there into a single lot—a technical land use concern since the new structure will straddle them. Bill Flynn, the Nature Center’s executive director, said the Oenoke Ridge Road organization has been offered four donkeys by a local woman, “but we do not have the facilities currently to house them.”

Asked by the selectmen whether the animals currently live in a similar structure, Flynn said yes. “They are very fancy donkeys,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “They have a barn. Continue Reading →

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SLIDESHOW: Walking the New ‘GreenLink’ Trail and ‘Greenway’ Loop in New Canaan

 

The “GreenLink Trail” to open at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in New Canaan—on Earth Day, as part of the New Canaan Land Trust’s plans—creates a new, walk-able loop that advocates have been dreaming about, as well as carefully planning, for some four years. It features an attractive, footbridge-laden trail that spans wetlands off of Weed Street, and ultimately helps connect Irwin Park to the New Canaan Nature Center. That trail is the final piece of a larger, pedestrian-friendly loop that runs from downtown New Canaan, up Elm, along Weed Street and into Irwin, then back along Weed and into the woods, across a conservation easement and onto Land Trust property, then into the Nature Center’s woods, up onto Oenoke Ridge and past God’s Acre into downtown New Canaan again. The captioned slideshow above tracks my hike of the trail and that larger loop on Wednesday, with our dogs Louis, Marvin and Dexter. A few fast facts on it (time and distance can be tailored):

2.2 miles
5,656 steps
50 minutes

The hike can vary from two to three-plus miles, depending on just where you want to start downtown and whether you choose to enjoy additional trails within the Nature Center. Continue Reading →

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‘A Magnificent Piece of our Town’: New Nature Center Executive Director Looks to Past, Future

The New Canaan Nature Center—a place where generations of local families have learned about animals, attended preschool, hiked trails and studied nature—began in 1960 for purposes of “an arboretum, bird sanctuary, nature center, horticulture, and for passive recreation,” according to a deed given to the town by Susan D. Bliss, the property’s prior owner. The deed also specified that the Nature Center would serve as “a museum site,”  newly appointed Executive Director Bill Flynn told a group of visitors this week. For Flynn, the first permanent director at the Oenoke Ridge Road facility in more than one year, part of what the Nature Center strives to do is “prove that we’re worthy of [Bliss’s] generosity.”

“This is a gift” and a “magnificent piece of our town,” Flynn said during a meet-and-greet and tour on Tuesday morning that included a talk at the Visitor’s Center and hike around the campus. A staff member at the Nature Center for seven years, Flynn is in a unique position to both appreciate the organization’s rich history while also eyeing immediate and future needs, including for its several buildings. Priorities now for Flynn include maintaining and building on a strong relationship with the town, he said, as well restoring certain buildings on campus. Continue Reading →

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Town Officials Seek Details on Nature Center’s Finances, Use of Buildings

[Editor’s Note: After hearing concerns from someTown Building Evaluation and Use Committee members that their comments had been taken out of context, we added a full and unedited audio file from this portion of the public meeting to the top of this article.]

With an eye on prioritizing capital maintenance and spending, officials say they’re seeking detailed information from the New Canaan Nature Center about how the organization’s various programs use the town-owned buildings that form its campus. The Nature Center uses one set of books for its entire business–including financially successful enterprises such as camp and a popular nursery school—though it isn’t clear just now whether capital investments earmarked for the Oenoke Ridge Road campus are commensurate with those revenue-drivers, according to members of a committee that’s studying town-owned buildings throughout New Canaan. “What we are trying to do is find out whether there is an opportunity for the town to use resources better, and then make informed decisions about where we should do that,” Amy Murphy Carroll, co-chair of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee, said at the group’s most recent meeting. “So for instance, the gift shop—there is a revenue line for that of X amount—it’s really pretty minimal and there is lot of space for the gift shop,” Carroll said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Appointed in February, the committee’s members also include Penny Young (co-chair), Ben Bilus (secretary), Neil Budnick, Bill Holmes, Christa Kenin and Martin Skrelunas. Continue Reading →

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