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December 2020 E-News

A Time For Reflection



Photo: Joan Mikalson

This has been quite a year! It is easy to get lost in the seemingly unending negative headlines of the day. While we recognize the local and global impacts of 2020 events, December offers us an opportunity to reflect on these experiences, focus on the positive and ponder how we might contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world in 2021.

At Steep Rock Association, our primary goal this past year was to be here for you and offer our preserves as a safe refuge to enjoy. We emphasized that all are welcome here regardless of demographic identity, religious custom, geography, or economic status. We showcased our resilience when weathering the storms of August and took a rather untraditional approach to celebrating traditional SRA events this fall.

At Steep Rock, we focus on conserving and maintaining natural landscapes in perpetuity, and lessons learned this year have helped us to reimagine 2021 and beyond. Thank you for being part of our community, sharing our successes, and being there when we need you.  From all of us at Steep Rock, we wish you and your loved ones a very safe, reflective, and peaceful holiday season.

See you on our Trails!

Brian Hagenbuch, Ph.D., Executive Director

“Drive-Thru” Holiday in the Depot

Photo: Washington Parks and Recreation

Drive-Thru Holiday in the Depot and Tour of Lights
2 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot 06794
Tonight, Friday, December 11, 2020, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

You don’t want to miss the “Drive-Thru Holiday in the Depot” & town-wide “Tour of Lights” this evening! There will be some fun surprises for young and old. Check out Steep Rock’s reindeer (created by our recent Americorps volunteers) at the corner of Bee Brook and Green Hill Roads! For more information, click…/files/tour-of-lights-2 


Christmas Bird Count

Photo: SRA
Macricostas Preserve
124 Christian Street, New Preston 06777
Sunday, December 20, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join Steep Rock Association (SRA) on a 1.5-mile, winter birding excursion through the diverse habitats of Macricostas Preserve. Your eyes, ears, and enthusiasm are needed to collect data for the nation’s longest-running citizen science bird project, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. Everyone from seasoned ornithologists to first-time birders, individuals to families with children are welcome to participate in this special holiday activity. Registration for this event is required and limited. To find out more and to register please click here.

“The History of Steep Rock Association:
The Jewel in the Crown”


Photo: Carol Santoleri                                                   

Tis the season of giving! And what would make a better gift for the nature lover in your life than The History of Steep Rock Association: The Jewel in the Crown by Carol Bergren Santoleri. (to preview a few pages click here)
Enjoy this beautifully-crafted book filled with reflective pictures from the past 100+ years, including some “then and now” comparisons with photos from the archives of the Town of Washington’s Gunn Historical Museum.  Reflect on your own experiences as you read the engaging and entertaining stories about each of our preserves and the Shepaug River. If you and your friends love nature, history, and Steep Rock, this will be a welcome addition to your library.
The History of Steep Rock Association: The Jewel in the Crown is available at The Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot, CT (cash and check) and J. Seitz & Co., 9 E Shore Rd., New Preston, CT  (checks only). Need to pay with a credit card? The book can also be ordered online from the Steep Rock website (
The author (Carol Bergren Santoleri), Hickory Stick Bookshop and J. Seitz & Co. have graciously offered to forgo income from book sales. 100 % of all funds from sales will go directly to support Steep Rock Association.

Hiker’s Challenge


Photo: SRA
Congratulations to Pam Quist for completing our Hiker’s Challenge on November 28, 2020!
For information on how to join the fun please visit

Hiking During COVID-19


Photo: SRA
Steep Rock Association is proud to offer our community three preserves for solitude, enjoyment, and exercise. We encourage you to get outside and embrace the magic of nature in every season. With the increasing numbers of Covid cases, we want to ensure the health and safety of all visitors and to protect our preserves. Please follow all state and federal safety guidelines:
  • Wear a mask, especially if you are within 6 feet of other people
  • Practice safe social distances– say hello, step aside
  • Do not engage in large group activities
  • Leash and clean up after your pets
  • Take pictures, leave footprints
  • Report dangerous trail conditions to,

Tunnel Road is Closed for the Season


Photo: SRA
The Town of Washington has closed Tunnel Road to vehicle traffic for the season. Tunnel Road will reopen in Spring 2021 and is still available for hiking, biking, horseback riding. and snowshoeing and xc skiing when it snows. Happy trails!


Hiking During Hunting Season


Photo: SRA
Although hunting is not allowed in Steep Rock’s preserves, we wanted to make you aware that hunting season is upon us and care should be taken when heading out for a hike.  Here are a few tips to help you keep safe while hiking.
  • Know when hunting season occurs and if it is permitted where you plan to hike. Visit Connecticut DEEP for hunting season information. Hunting is prohibited in SRA preserves.
  • Be aware of signage. Respect “Posted” signs marking boundaries to ensure you are not trespassing on private property that may be actively hunted.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing. Wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing to be highly visible.
  • Keep your dog leashed. This is the best way to ensure the safety of your pet. A blaze orange vest for dogs is also recommended.
  • Stay on trails. Hunters tend to stay away from heavily used hiking trails. 
  • Make noise. Yes, talk, laugh, sing! This announces your presence to humans and wildlife alike.
  • Avoid hiking at dawn or dusk. These are prime hunting windows and periods of low light when it is often difficult to distinguish shapes and colors.
Remember hunting is prohibited in Steep Rock Association’s Preserves but that may not be the case in neighboring properties. Be safe and enjoy your hike!
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Matching Gifts

 Did you know many companies match donations made by employees, employees’ spouses, and retirees, allowing employees to DOUBLE their generosity and impact? 

Contact your employer today to see if they will match your gift.


 If you are 70½ years of age or older, you can take advantage of a popular gift option called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) also known as a IRA charitable rollover.  QCDs offer simple ways to benefit Steep Rock and receive tax benefits in return.

To learn more, visit here.

Stock or Wire

If you’d like to give a gift via wire or stock, please reach out to for our account information.


You can donate through your donor advised fund in just three clocks on our website
When granting through your donor-advised fund, please use the following information:

Our legal name: Steep Rock Association, Inc.
Tax ID: #06-6069060
Mailing address: PO Box 279, Washington Depot, CT 06794

Check Donations

Please make checks payable to Steep Rock Association. Our mailing address is:

Steep Rock Association
PO Box 279
Washington Depot, CT 06794