The property was originally preserved for additional reservoir capacity, if ever needed, near the Saugatuck Reservoir. It's continued preservation will help protect an important forested area in this developed suburb of New York City. Equally significant, the preservation will also help sustain the natural heritage that has been an essential aspect of life in the region predating the creation of the state of Connecticut.
The victory of the preservation would not have occurred without the hard work of a group of local citizens and the key support of the actor Paul Newman who personally spoke with the governor and state legislators to persuade them to implement important land preservation legislation.
The preservation of a few hundred acres may not save the planet, but the ecological importance of land preservation may be illuminated by the realization that the earth’s billions of people truly have the ability to save or destroy the planet's natural environment. We all share a world of limited resources. Only 29% of the surface of the earth is dry land, and much of that is uninhabitable. But the earth is sustaining a tremendous growth of its human population. During the past forty years the population has doubled to six billion.1 The uncounted billions of people who will be born in the 21st Century will be living on the wisdom we must start acquiring now.
The belief that nature is somehow infinitely resilient, even under the aggressive and persistent assault of modern civilization, may be a manifestation of a fundamental psychological denial of the vulnerability of life. Although nature can often recover from ecological damage, life on earth is definitely fragile.
Human beings are naturally territorial and our behavior sheds some light on the importance of land preservation as a component of environmental responsibility. Real estate has always been an ingredient of economic wealth, and as the planet becomes more and more populated, as technology becomes more and more awesome, the preservation and protection of the natural environment will become even more crucial to the maintenance of healthy and livable communities.
To see the reality of the more disturbing aspects of humanity's territorial nature you only have to look at warfare. The conquest of territory has always been a primary motivation behind war. The terrible truth is that there will always be some who are more than willing to destroy the natural environment - and all life within it - just to conquer it!
The widespread refusal to deal with the problems developing around us would create an unnatural disaster of global proportions, far worse than any war seen in the 20th Century.
The recognition of the true value of environmental protection should flow naturally from an enlightened respect for the interests of the community. This awareness should not be discarded too easily and these principles should not be sold too cheaply. A respect for the primary interests of the community is a fundamental principal underlying personal responsibility and personal freedom. And providing our communities with strong environmental safeguards is clearly in their best interest.
Links: The Aspetuck Land Trust Aspetuck Land Trust Inc. is a non-profit Connecticut Corporation devoted to preserving open space and the natural resources of Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport for the benefit of the public.
The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.
The Connecticut Fund for the Environment Environmental action through legal and scientific expertise.
1. Source for the estimate of the earth's population and the percentage of dry land on earth: NBC Nightly News 10/10/1999