A Land Trust Supported By Your Donations - MacricostasA Land Trust Supported By Your Donations - Macricostas

Macricostas Expansion

A Campaign to Expand Macricostas Preserve into Pinnacle Valley and Beyond

“Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of 500 or 1,000 acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation.”

Henry David Thoreau, 1859

The Macricostas Preserve was created by Steep Rock Association (SRA) in 2000 through the bargain-purchase of 238 acres of land from the Macricostas Family. The price of $1,500,000 was funded by SRA donors, the State of CT and the Town of Washington. Other gifts and easements have increased the preserve to 560 acres. With its breathtaking view over Lake Waramaug from the pinnacle at Waramaug’s Rock and its pristine wetlands for bird watching, Macricostas has become a popular destination for visitors. Although Macricostas is the smallest of Steep Rock’s preserves, its 4.5- mile trail to the pinnacle is one of the organization’s most heavily used.

Pinnacle Valley… Over the past few years, SRA conducted reviews of land around the Macricostas Preserve and concluded that some of the highest conservation value land in the area is adjacent to its existing holdings. A pristine area long known as Pinnacle Valley, which abuts the northern
boundary of the Macricostas Preserve, is high on the list. With several hundred acres of dense forest and verdant woodlands, Pinnacle Valley is conservation worthy for a number of reasons. In particular, it houses significant water features, important geological formations, diverse botanical and biological habitat, and noteworthy historical and archaeological sites.

Expanding into Pinnacle Valley would give SRA the opportunity to significantly increase the number and length of trails in the Macricostas Preserve, which are currently limited. About thirty percent of the existing preserve (including Waramaug’s Rock) is not owned by SRA but subject to easements that restrict trail access and invasives management. Pinnacle Valley’s existing trails, requiring little additional work, could add several signature hiking destinations to the preserve’s trail system.

…and beyond: In addition to Pinnacle Valley, we are working with landowners in the area around Macricostas to add acreage where it makes sense, including donations or purchases of fee land and easements. Our long-term vision is to double the preserve’s fee owned acreage (to 800 acres) and triple the trail length (to 15 miles), with potential connections to the CT Blue Blazed Trail system. The entire project as planned would have minimal impact on town tax rolls. Since 2017, when SRA began discussing expansion of the Macricostas Preserve, a large number of nearby parcels have come onto the market. SRA is raising $800,000 to acquire the parcels with highest conservation value.

The Mission of Steep Rock Association: Steep Rock Association is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt land trust founded in 1925 by Ehrick Rossiter. During the past 90+ years, the organization has grown from its original 186 acres into a network encompassing 5,200 acres of preserved land – 2,500 acres owned in fee and 2,700 acres in conservation easements. Our mission is “to conserve ecologically and historically significant landscapes in and around Washington, Connecticut and the Shepaug River Valley and to enhance the community’s connection with nature.”

Steep Rock Association is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt land trust founded in 1925 by Ehrick Rossiter. During the past 90+ years, the organization has grown from its original 186 acres into a network 

QUESTIONS? Call 860-868-9131
Please make checks payable to Steep Rock Association:
PO Box 279, Washington Depot, 
CT 06794 for the Macricostas Expansion Project.

Scenic Views: Pinnacle Valley sits at the east end of Lake Waramaug, easily seen from public roads and private property on the Warren and Washington sides of the lake and its far western end. At the apex of the valley, Warren’s Double Pinnacle is the highest point around the lake – slightly higher than the pinnacle at Waramaug’s Rock. This prominent, highly visible site is one of the largest areas of unprotected property around the lake. Its ridgelines afford spectacular long views to the east across Lake Waramaug toward Connecticut’s northwestern hills and to the west toward Whittlesey Valley. Preserving this ridgeline advances SRA’s goals of protecting the area’s scenic views.

Wildlife Preservation: Pinnacle Valley, filled with wetlands, streams, rocky ridges, and forest, is a haven for wildlife. Supporting reptiles and amphibians, its extensive bogs have been designated by the Town of Washington (2014 Plan of Conservation https://bit.ly/2ug9vDQ) as highest conservation priority. Its forests and rocky outcrops provide habitat and important travel lanes for mammals including deer, fox, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, and the occasional bear, as well as nesting and feeding grounds for avian life. Pinnacle Valley is home to Nature Conservancy-identified examples of Circumneutral Cliffs and Talus, North-Central Appalachian Acidic Swamp, and core forest which provides wildlife linkages into the Berkshires. The entire valley sits within the Audubon-designated Shepaug Forest Important Bird Area. Historical records show this area was a route between Meeker Swamp and Lake Waramaug for indigenous tribes as far back as 6,000 years ago.

Watershed Protection: Pinnacle Valley straddles two important watersheds – Lake Waramaug to the west and Meeker Swamp to the east. Cold water streams from the valley not only support trout and mitigate algae formation in the lake, but also feed Meeker Swamp and the headwaters of Bee Brook, a major tributary of the Shepaug River. Sitting atop one of the largest aquifers in Washington, the wetland is characterized by areas of rare calcareous seepage swamp, where groundwater and aquifers mix. The silt content, oxygenation, and water chemistry of area wells could easily be degraded by upland development.

Trail Access: The Steep Rock Association currently provides over forty miles of hiking, bicycling, and riding trails across its land preserves. The Macricostas Preserve has the smallest trail system, at 5.7 miles. With the acquisition of key parcels adjacent to the preserve, SRA could add up to ten additional miles of trails, many of which are already well established but currently not accessible to the public. New trails would feature unique hiking destinations, with paths following winding stream beds and lookouts allowing expansive views to the east and west. Longer term plans include possible connections to the Connecticut Blue Blazed Hiking Trail System.

Two parcels acquired: As of October 2018, we have closed on two parcels totaling 43 acres, a 10% increase in owned land at the Macricostas Preserve. These acquisitions include large wetlands and several streams which feed Lake Waramaug and Meeker Swamp. The eastern side of the Preserve now extends to the Warren town line. We have signed contracts on another 46 acres and are in discussions on another regarding trail easements. We need your help to bring these properties into the fold by year end!

Trail planning underway: Our talented trails and preserve coordinator, Mike Giapponi, has created a conceptual trail layout, showing a possible trail on our new property – let us know what you think!

CONCEPTUAL PLAN FOR A NEW TRAIL (Trail is not yet open, please do not attempt to hike!)
By contributing to the Steep Rock Association, you can help us expand the Macricostas Preserve into Pinnacle Valley and beyond so that we can create new trails with spectacular views and protect Washington’s wildlife, watersheds, and groundwater resources. As a community-based, non-profit organization, we rely upon and appreciate your support!

Steep Rock Association is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt land trust founded in 1925 by Ehrick Rossiter. During the past 90+ years, the organization has grown from its original 186 acres into a network 

QUESTIONS? Call 860-868-9131
Please make checks payable to Steep Rock Association:
PO Box 279, Washington Depot, 
CT 06794 for the Macricostas Expansion Project.

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