The Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley or northeastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts has been called "The Last Green Valley" in the sprawling metropolitan Boston-to-Washington corridor. At night the region appears distinctively dark amid the urban and suburban glow when viewed from satellites or aircraft. In the daytime, the green fields and forests confirm the surprisingly rural character of the 1,085 square-mile area defined by the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers systems and the rugged hills that surround them.
Bafflin Farm at Dawn, Pomfret, Connecticut
Balloon over Woodstock, Connecticut
Field, Franklin, Connecticut
Allen Hill Tree Farm, Brooklyn, Connecticut
Brimfield, Massachusetts Orchard
Thompson, Connecticut Green
Woodstock (Connecticut) Hill at first light
The Last Green Valley is half the size of Grand Canyon National Park and more than ten times that of Acadia, the largest national park in the northeast. Forest and farmland make up more than 70% of its 695,000-acres, yet it lies only an hour from 3 of New England's 4 largest urban areas. Its 300,000 inhabitants reside only 2 1/2 hours from 25 million people. This relatively undeveloped rural island in the midst of the most urbanized region in the nation makes it a resource of local, regional, and national importance.
Many things make The Last Green Valley special. It boasts:
- 2 of the most scenic and productive river systems in New England
- More than 80 ponds and lakes with exceptional water qualities and habitats
- 7 state forests, including the largest in Connecticut
- 16 state wildlife management areas
- 5 state parks composed of thousands of acres
- More than 130 miles of trails, including the East Coast Greenway, a National Millennium Trail
- The presence of moose, black bear, fishers, sea lamprey - species of animals returning after no presence for generations
Loss of The Last Green Valley would have direct, irrevocable, and negative effects on America, particularly southern New England. Why?
- The forests of The Last Green Valley provide oxygen for 8.3 million people, exceeding the needs of its population by more than 27 times. Our forests filter and store 1.2 million tons of carbon that would otherwise remain airborne.
- Our forests produce 1.4 million tons of new topsoil every year, compensating for erosion in stressed parts of the ecosystem.
- The Last Green Valley has an abundance of clean water, including the largest aquifer in Connecticut (2,600 acres). A pilot resource inventory for the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Plainfield and Sterling, showed that 31% of the land was underlain by stratified drift aquifer deposits.
- The health of Long Island Sound is greatly enhanced by The Last Green Valley. Its large swaths of forest greatly reduce nitrogen loading of waterways. In the Thames River Basin (most of which is in The Last Green Valley), 81% of the 357.3 miles accessed fully supported aquatic life with no threats.
Because of this, in 1994, Congress designated the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, recognizing the region as a unique national resource. In 1999, Congress enlarged the Corridor to include Quinebaug and Shetucket River Valley towns in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, now numbering 35 in all.
Aerial Photographs of The Last Green Valley, taken by G. Leslie Sweetnam. www.glsweetnam.com
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