A recently completed Boy Scout Eagle Project by John Peiser added a trail and natural bench on the New Canaan Land Trust’s Hicks Meadows – Henry Kelley Uplands Audubon parcel off Cedar Lane in the Silvermine District. The project includes blazing a three-tenths mile hiking trail loop and a natural bench for members of the New Canaan community to enjoy.
The Hicks Meadows – Henry Kelley Uplands Audubon parcel consists of 40.7 acres and is located near the intersection of Cedar Lane and Braeburn Drive in the Silvermine section of New Canaan. The parcel grew as a series of donations starting in 1952 with Mr. and Mrs. Clarence King donating 21 acres in the memory of Henry Kelley to the Bird Protective Society of New Canaan, the forerunner to the New Canaan Audubon Society. In 1970, Ira and Margaret Hicks donated 12.75 acres to the Land Trust. The parcel grew larger with a 1.5 acre donation by Herbert and Ruth Riedel in 1986 and in 1990 with a donation of 5.5 acres by John Ripley Forbes of the Natural Science for Youth foundation. When the New Canaan Land Trust and the Audubon Society joined together in 2014, the parcel grew to its full 40.7 acre size and is among the largest in the Land Trust. The area was once a farm, but now consists of several ecosystems defined by woodlands, meadows, wetlands and a pond.
“The Hicks Meadows Kelly Highlands Audubon Parcel is a key part of the Land Trust’s Stewardship Program which seeks to make the natural beauty of New Canaan accessible to the public while preserving the environment. Our goal is to reach out to the youth of New Canaan to involve them in our efforts to improve public access. We have a series of projects including work by the High School SLOBS (Service League of Boys) and Summer Stewards, designed to make this parcel more suitable for visitation by the New Canaan public,” said Chris Schipper President Emeritus of the New Canaan Land Trust.
John Peiser, the Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 70 of New Canaan, who led the project explained, “Before the trail was added, it was difficult to walk through the parcel. Visitors had to watch where they walked to avoid fallen tree limbs and thorny plants. The new trail gives the public a chance to take a short hike through the area and look at the interesting trees, birds and other animals that reside on the property. The natural bench is placed near a break in an old stone wall where visitors can sit quietly and enjoy all that the area has to offer. “
Mr. Schipper continued “With the first trail complete, we can move forward with stewardship projects to add more trails so that visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty of this parcel. With public support, we hope to acquire the adjoining 6.5-acre Fowler parcel creating a crucial link to the sanctuary for the Silvermine neighborhood.”
Youth and adults from New Canaan Troop 70 helped John with his project including Dennis Brown, Greg Brannan, Glen Capelo, Cynthia Peiser and Jake Melcher. Scouts included Charlie Sokolowski, Sam Capelo, Ben Capelo, Alex Capelo, Steven Capelo, Cole Schubert, Conrad Iveneza, David Seigel, Andrew Wilson, Sean DiPanni, Ryan Krolikowski (Troop 31), Joseph Peiser and Matthew Peiser.
The New Canaan Land Trust’s mission is to preserve open space, wildlife sanctuaries and the scenic beauty of New Canaan forever. The Trust manages 367 acres in New Canaan and, on average, every home in New Canaan is within 1000 yards of a Land Trust property. In 2013, the Land Trust set a goal of engaging New Canaan youth more actively and involvement with the Boy Scouts is part of this program.
Troop 70 Eagle Scouts have completed numerous projects in the community on behalf of The New Canaan Nature Center, New Canaan Historical Society, the New Canaan Land Trust and St. Mark’s Church, among others. Other projects raised awareness food allergies at restaurants in town and collected donations of bedsheets for hospitals in Haiti.
Nationally, about 57,000 Boy Scouts achieve the Eagle Rank each year. Only 1 out of 15 Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Rank. Eagle Scouts comprise large portions of high achieving professions – for example, over 20% of NASA astronauts are Eagle Scouts.