The Ridgefield Conservation Commission was established in 1962 by Town Ordinance after enabling legislation was adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1961. The Commission includes the Invasives Committee and the Flood and Erosion Control Board. The duties of the commission include the following:
- Looking after the Town's open space including trail maintenance, posting and protecting.
- Acting in an advisory capacity to Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board on the impact of development on the environment.
- Adding lands to the Town's inventory of open space by acquisition and by encouraging donations.
What's New - The Conservation Press
Click on a link below to see recent activities of the commission.
- 2015 Open Space Map
A Town map showing all open space was updated in December, 2015 and a 22x30 print is available for purchase in the Conservation office, Town Hall and Books on Common. Click to view: Open Space Map
- The New 2016 Ridgefield Walk Book – Available This September
The popular 2006 Ridgefield Walk Book is your best guide to the many walking trails throughout the town’s open spaces. It has now been updated for 2016 and is in color such that the many trail maps are easier to read. It will be available at the Conservation Commission office in the Town Hall Annex and at several locations around town (e.g., Books on the Common). Proceeds from the sale of this book will be added to the Ridgefield Conservation Commission’s Open Space Conservation Fund for the purchase of open space land in Ridgefield.
- Winners of the Walk Book Photo Contest
As part of our effort to update the book, the commission held a Walk Book photo contest and we are pleased to announce the winners:
- Chris Burke: cover photo of Seth Low Pierrepont State Park.
- Bryan Perri: back cover photo of West Mountain Refuge (McManus).
- Town Conservation Ordinance Update
Great news! As we have seen an increasing amount of damage to the Town's open space over recent years, including the cutting down of mature trees, the commission proposed updating Chapters 262 and 24 of the Town code. We are pleased to announce that our revised ordinance was approved at the Town Meeting on May 4th. Click here to see an overall guide to the new ordinance.
- Conservation Ranger Program - Sign Up Now!
The commission has been working on habitat preservation and open space acquisition since its inception and has a trail maintenance and development program aided by Rangers who watch over the properties under our custody. We could not meet our mandate without the devoted work of our rangers. Read this and see how you can become a Conservation Commission Ranger.
- Future Uses at the McKeon Farm - Are You Interested?
One of our most important open spaces is the former McKeon Farm in Ridgebury. The commission is putting together a plan for acceptable uses of the property. Have a farmyard animal that could use some open space? Contact us.
About The Commission
Current Commission Members
The Ridgefield Conservation Commission consists of nine volunteer Ridgefield residents (and two alternates) who serve the town for staggered three-year terms. Commissioners are appointed by the Board of Selectmen to devote their efforts to the sound development, conservation, supervision and regulation of the town's natural resources including water resources. The current members of the commission are:
- Chair: Susan Baker
- Members: Eric Beckenstein, Timothy Bishop, Carroll Brewster, James Coyle, Dave Cronin, Jack Kace, Alan Pilch, Kitsey Snow
- Alternates: Daniel Levine, Benjamin Oko
The commission has a Conservation Enforcement Officer to act as the commission's agent in the enforcement of the Open Space Use Ordinance.
How to Reach Us
The commission maintains an office on the second floor of the Town Hall Annex, 66 Prospect Street, staffed by a part-time administrator. The office is open to the public during the month of August on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 1pm. You can also reach us as follows:
2016 Meeting Schedule
Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m in the small 1st Floor Conference Room, Town Hall Annex (66 Prospect Street) generally twice a month on Monday unless otherwise noted. The 2016 meeting schedule is:
- January 11 & 25
- February 8 & 22
- March 7 & 21
- April 4 & 18
- May 9 & 23
- June 13 & 27
- July 11 & 25
- August 29
- September 12 & 26
- October 17 & 31
- November 14 & 28
- December 12
Click here to see meeting agendas and minutes
The Conservation Commission reviews land use applications that lie adjacent to town open spaces or that concern wetlands, water resources, and natural resources; conducts site inspections; and attends meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission to provide advisory comments to this commission and the Inland Wetlands Board.
The Conservation Commission works in cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Department in the sound management of the Town's multipurpose properties. The commission partners with the state to maintain trails at Seth Low Pierrepont State Park, and with The Friends of Bennett's Pond which is the designated steward of Bennett's Pond State Park in cooperation with the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The commission also coordinates activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes such as:
Open Space Management and Acquisition
The Conservation Commission keeps an index of all open space areas in the town to ensure their proper use and manages more than 2,500 acres of open space, including 40 areas with developed trails. This is done with help from volunteer open space rangers and a seasonal two-person crew.
To help the Town achieve its objective of 30% permanently protected open space (as per the Town's Plan of Conservation and Development), the Conservation Commission plans for open space acquisitions by cultivating relationships with land owners and routinely updating a listing of desired open space. Open space is acquired through donations of land and through purchases funded by the Open Space Conservation Fund and town funds.
The Open Space Conservation Fund, established in 1963, is used exclusively for the purchase of land. The fund accepts gifts of money, securities or property. It consists of donations from individuals and organizations in Ridgefield as well as monies received in lieu of open space obtained from subdivision redevelopment. The fund is eligible for matching grants of many businesses and organizations. The town welcomes donations to the Open Space Conservation Fund at any time. To make a donation, contact us at the Ridgefield Conservation Commission.
The commission oversees both open space and open space easements. From time to time the commission finds it advantageous to do land swaps and make changes to conservation easements. Guidelines for this process can be found here.
Ridgefield Open Spaces
Trail maps for Ridgefield open spaces can be found in the Ridgefield Walk Book, the most recent edition of which is the 2006 edition. The Walk Book may be purchased at the Conservation office, Town Hall and at book stores in town. A 2016 version of the Walk Book in color will be available in September, 2016.
In addition to the Walk Book, detailed maps of other open spaces can be found in the Catalog of Ridgefield Open Spaces. Click on the link for more detailed maps of Hemlock Hills/Pine Mountain, Pierrepont State Park, and the Bennett's Pond to download a full-size image of a trail map in PDF format that you can print.
Open Space Ranger Program
Open space rangers are volunteers who help the Conservation Commission take care of Ridgefield open spaces. Rangers often live close to open spaces, enjoy them and want to help maintain them. Rangers keep trails clear of limbs and other debris, maintain the painted blazes that mark the trails and report open space violations to the Commission. The commission greatly appreciates the time and energy devoted by rangers and is always looking for more dedicated rangers. Please contact the commission if you are interested in knowing more about the open space ranger program.
Ridgefield Natural Resource Inventory (NRI)
In 2010 the Ridgefield Conservation Commission partnered with the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, a program of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, to create the first-ever comprehensive Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) of the town of Ridgefield. The Ridgefield NRI was published in April 2012. Click here to view the NRI
Forest Stewardship Plan
Forest Stewardship Plan for the New York City Watershed - Upon request by the Conservation Commission, Connwood Foresters, Inc. has prepared a 15-year (2011-2026) forest stewardship plan for their properties in Ridgefield. An inventory of these properties was conducted in February of 2011 in order to determine how to best implement the natural resource stewardship objectives of the Town of Ridgefield.
Other Environmentally Conscious Groups in Town
Caudatowa Garden Club. The objective of the Caudatowa Garden Club of Ridgefield is to promote an interest in and a knowledge of gardening and horticulture, to develop an understanding of and a proficiency in floral arranging, to beautify and improve the home and the village of Ridgefield, to develop an appreciation of and a concern for our natural resources and to promote the building of friendships through common interests.
The Discovery Center at Ridgefield is a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster a love of nature, and interest in science, and an appreciation of history and the cultural arts in all persons, particularly the young.
Land Conservancy of Ridgefield. One of the oldest land trusts in Connecticut, the not for profit Land Conservancy of Ridgefield was founded in 1967 with support from the Ridgefield Conservation Commission to preserve Ridgefield's open space. The Land Conservancy holds over 680 acres of property in either outright gifts or in conservation easements.
The Ridgefield Garden Club. Founded in 1914, the Ridgefield Garden Club strives to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening in its members and in the community; aids in the protection of natural resources, native plants, and wildlife; and encourages civic improvement.
RACE(Ridgefield Action Committee for the Environment) works for a clean environment.
ROSA (Ridgefield Open Space Association) was instrumental in preserving Bennett's Pond as open space. ROSA is dedicated to the preservation of open space and protection of the region's natural heritage through education and public advocacy.
Current Conservation Topics