New Canaan Nature Center

Recent Articles

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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New Canaan Promotes ‘Tech-Free Family Time’ through ’30 Days of Family’

Town and local nonprofit officials are urging New Canaan families this month to unplug their mobile devices and spend more time communicating directly with each other. The Department of Human Services-led “30 Days of Family” initiative this year has taken up “tech-free family time” as its motto. Unplugging forces family members to talk to each other “with their voices and spend quality time making eye contact and practicing listening skills,” according to Jacqueline D’Louhy, the department’s coordinator of youth and family services. “Think about how much teens ‘talk’ to each other electronically,” D’Louhy said. “Sometimes they’ll be sitting in the same room but never utter a word to one another. Continue Reading →

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New Canaan Nature Center Appoints New Executive Director

After more than one year without a permanent employee at the helm, the New Canaan Nature Center on Monday afternoon announced that a longtime staff member will take on the role of executive director. Bill Flynn, most recently the Oenoke Ridge Road organization’s director of animal care & environmental educator, starts in the leadership role following a “comprehensive search and selection process,” according to Linda Andros, president of the Nature Center’s Board of Trustees. “He’s an accomplished naturalist with excellent communication and leadership skills,” Andros said in a press release. “We are confident that he will take the Nature Center to the next level while continuing to deliver on our core values of community, education, protection and preservation.”

Flynn, a resident on the town-owned property’s campus, came to the Nature Center in 2010 following a stint as naturalist and environmental science educator in Ohio and Southern California, according to the press release. He has earned degrees in Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology and Pre-Medicine from the University of Colorado, Boulder, it said. Continue Reading →

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