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PO Box 193
Middlebury, CT 06762


I was walking on one of MLT's trails the other day and a little girl came running over to me excitedly telling me that she had just seen a turtle. I told her that, amazingly, a turtle had just come running over to me excitedly telling me that she had just seen a little girl! . . . Encounters like this show how important open space is to both humans and our wildlife neighbors now and into the future. The mission of Middlebury Land Trust is to preserve such open space forever.

Annual reports typically chronicle the last year's accomplishments, which are of course important for the world to know. As I do that, though, I also want to tell you some of the stories behind these accomplishments as well as a few dreams we have for this year, next year, and beyond.

Numerous members and friends have enjoyed time outdoors walking on our trails, whether on their own or on a guided walk featuring anything from birds to trees to native plants and more. Many studies document the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of time in the woods, but of course, we New Englanders have known this since at least the time of Thoreau. As he once said, "We can never have enough of nature."

Wayne Foote, a former long-time board member who left us a few years ago, was not unlike Thoreau and literally hiked the world, known by his fellow super hikers by his trail name of “Trouble.” Over a number of years, Wayne slowly and meticulously put together MLT's longest trail, running from Abbotts Pond, near his former home, to Sperry Pond, near Middlebury's border with Watertown. In Wayne's honor, we named this trail the Foote Path. Every year, on CT Trails Day, MLT sponsors a memorial Foote Path hike in Wayne's honor. His son Tommy and grandson Matt come up from PA to join with MLT and the new owners of Wayne's house, Amanda and Artie Pulawski, to host this special event.

In addition to hikes and walks, our trails offer what many members tell us is their favorite MLT activity: our Trails Work Days. Held twice a year, volunteers focus on specific areas and clear trails of invasive species, fallen logs, and branches, and perform other related tasks. Our insurance requires anyone using a chainsaw on such work days to be an MLT member, and we have actually, more than once, had folks sign up as new members just so they could use their chainsaw that day.

Signage is important, both for identifying locations and for MLT's public visibility. Many residents have told us how much they like our new signs and our new logo. The most striking of these is the new sign at Fenn's Pond, a special project made possible through the generosity of a long-time member and her husband. The letters are carved into the wood to create a striking three-dimensional effect. When our signage project is completed this year or next, all of our accessible properties will have new signs.

The local hiking and walking community is large, and MLT trails are very popular. Our new trail maps have therefore been very well received by anyone desiring detailed information on these trails. The maps are available on our website, under the Maps tab, for anyone wishing to view or download them. Please let us know if you notice anything that needs to be corrected.

The little girl who saw a turtle could have been at Lake Elise or Larkin Pond, the two MLT ponds (of several) where catch-and-release fishing is available. Many local anglers have enjoyed trying their luck in these ponds, and, this past April, 53 kids and adults participated in a Learn-to-Fish event at Lake Elise sponsored by MLT and DEEP. I should mention here that the dams creating our ponds need regular care and maintenance, and a group of loyal volunteers has been doing a lot of such work recently. They return home splattered with a bit of mud and plenty of debris but regularly report how much fun they have had doing this important work.

Bird lovers have a particularly special place at MLT. We have had nighttime winter owl prowls two years in a row, as well as warm weather bird walks that delight everyone who partakes, whether experienced birder or complete novice.

And for the many Middlebury dog lovers, MLT is in the final stages of creating its long-awaited nature-centric dog park. We are making some technical refinements to our plan, already approved by Middlebury Wetlands, and hope to receive the remaining approvals to proceed soon.

Friends of MLT continue to offer up new land we can protect together. Peter Vileisis, for example, has worked with us to conserve 6.6 acres of beautiful open space off of Watertown Road that connects existing MLT preserves, protects an important wildlife corridor, and secures a portion of our signature Foote Path Trail.

About a year ago, an anonymous couple told me about their love of open space and their desire to protect a beautiful and environmentally significant 5.05-acre parcel of land on South Street. This beautiful property is highly visible to neighbors and passers-by and includes field, forest, and wetland. Thanks to this anonymous couple's gift, MLT acquired this property. We hope to create a trail there both for recreation and for educational uses.

Hyram Upson, known by everyone as Hy, was a lover of the outdoors from the time he was a little boy. Hy died last year but left a most wonderful surprise to MLT in the form of a perpetual fund at the CT Community Foundation. This fund will generate almost four thousand dollars every year for land trust programs and recreational opportunities. Thank you, Hy, forever!

To assist MLT with certain back-office tasks, such as bookkeeping, donation processing, and publicity, we are in our second year of an administrative services agreement with Flanders. The success of this arrangement has been amazing. With the assistance of this administrative team, our hard-working Board and our many volunteers keep us moving ever onward and upward. Over 1500 volunteer hours were recorded for 2023, and this number is surely incomplete.

After 15 years as President, I will be stepping down from that position following this year's Annual Meeting. Succeeding me will be Alice Hallaran and Tom Cunningham as MLT's first Co-Presidents. I will not be leaving as I step to the side, and will continue to participate in the interesting, important, and fun work that is MLT. I do want to thank everyone who has worked with me at MLT over the years, especially my wife Jean, who has put up with a lot and who has made untold treats for the Board and its committees. My MLT colleagues are, to a person, incredible. I am both proud and grateful for all that we have accomplished together.

Thank you.

W. Scott Peterson, M.D.
President, Middlebury Land Trust, Inc.

An accredited nonprofit land trust, incorporated in 1969 to acquire and conserve open space for the benefit and enjoyment of the community


Financial: MLT is a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 public charity, receiving $26,726 in 2023 annual giving and the remainder of its operating income from previous public support of its endowment. During 2023 MLT also received a bequest of $136,083 and special one-time gifts of $108,520. Expenses were allocated 63% ($75,663) to our program of land conservation, 29% ($34,479) to management and general (including accounting and insurance), and 8% ($10,089) to fundraising (including mailings). Our investments and cash stood at $2,290,502 at year-end, with our net property values at $4,152,883. Complete financial statements and IRS Form 990 are available for inspection upon request.


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