Ethel Walker Open Space: Among the Largest Open Space Areas in Connecticut

Ethel Walker Open Space: Among the Largest Open Space Areas in Connecticut

Town of Simsbury

Ethel Walker Open Space Program

November 2014

Simsbury is fulfilling its long-range open space program to preserve over 425 acres of the Ethel Walker School property. The initial planning for protecting this environmentally sensitive land began in 2001, while Anita Mielert was First Selectman.

During First Selectman Thomas Vincent’s time in office, the town worked cooperatively with the Ethel Walker School, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Keep the Woods, Trust for Public Land, and town boards and commissions to develop a long-range acquisition agreement that provided for grant applications and acquisitions over a 14-year period.

In June 2007, the first parcels were acquired. The 286 acres of land nearest the Stratton Brook Aquifer were purchased; and, the development rights for 49 acres of scenic land along Bushy Hill Road were acquired through fundraising efforts of the Trust for Public Land and donated to the town. Funds were raised from Keep the Woods, Ethel Walker alumnae and former trustees, and local residents.

While Mary Glassman served as First Selectman, three additional grants were received from the state and the U.S. Department of the Interior to acquire an additional 91 acres.

The environmentally valuable Ethel Walker properties now serve as the cornerstone of over 1,400 contiguous acres of open space, recreation and agricultural land, with connectivity to an additional 5,200 acres of open space. These combined properties are among the largest open space areas in Connecticut.

Protection of these wonderful land assets were achieved through the long-term efforts of the state, town, Simsbury Land Trust, U.S. Dept. of Interior Highlands Act, Simsbury Coon Club, and McLean Game Refuge.



Ethel Walker Open Space Program

Program Acquisition Summary



Size (Ac)

Purchase $

Grant $

Net Cost $

Closing Date

Fee Simple A1+





June 26, 2007

Devel. Rights A2*





June 26, 2007

B & C option deposit






Fee Simple B





April 24, 2013

Fee Simple C





Dec. 2014








+Parcel A1 includes three approved building lots (Longview Dr., Woodhaven, Banks Rd.)

*Conservation easement-donated to town by TPL, through additional fund raising from Keep the Woods, Ethel Walker alumnae and former trustees, and local residents.

The Ethel Walker Open Space Program now provides public protection of valuable natural resources consisting of forest land, prime farmland soils, and primary aquifer areas. Simsbury’s principal water source, the Stratton Brook aquifer, lies within the western portion of the Ethel Walker Open Space. Its wells yield over 1.4 million gallons of water per day.

As an “ecotone” site, where edges of woodlands, meadows, wetlands and streams abut each other, the property is an important habitat to many species of songbirds and woodland animals. Stratton Brook is an important trout fishery.

Crossed by miles of blazed trails, the property provides a unique setting for people to hike and enjoy the serene natural environment. The opportunity exists for establishing outdoor nature classroom programs.