NORFOLK — At a celebration event held on July 13 with Sen. Chris Murphy, the Housatonic Valley Association presented the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection with a $250,000 check secured through its Greenprint Partners Pledge Fund to save the Vagliano property in Norfolk. At 420 acres, the Vagliano parcel will be DEEP’s largest land protection transaction of the year when it closes later this summer according to a news release from the HVA.

DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee accepted the check from HVA’s Executive Director Lynn Werner and Regional Land Protection Director Tim Abbott.

As has become customary for the social media savvy Commissioner, he then took a selfie. “This is a big check” said Commissioner Klee; “I hope it will fit in the picture!”

HVA’s Lynn Werner praised the exceptional woodlands and freshwater streams conserved through this transaction, calling it one of the most significant conservation achievements in the Housatonic watershed in recent years. “The Vagliano property”, said Werner, “is a critical link in a 75,000-acre regional network of connected forests, waterways and wildlife habitat across the Housatonic Watershed.” Linking Canaan Mountain to the Blackberry River, the property also connects the lower Hudson Valley in New York to the Litchfield Hills and extends through the Berkshires and northern New England to Canada. HVA and its local and regional conservation partners are working together, said Werner, as part of an effort called Follow the Forest to protect this vast connected landscape.

Protecting the Vagliano property involves a unique combination of public and private funding from the federal Highlands Conservation Act, the Pittman-Robinson Act, Connecticut’s Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program and the private contribution raised by HVA through its Greenprint Partners Pledge Fund.

The Highlands Conservation Act, established by Congress in 2004, recognizes the significance of the Highlands region that extends across portions of Northwest Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Highlands fund provided $625,000 for this acquisition. Senator Murphy praised the project and its conservation partners, noting that Congress considers the Highlands Conservation Act a model public/private partnership that in Connecticut leverages each federal dollar by more than three to one. “Your efforts demonstrate the value of this federal investment and it has paid off,” said Senator Murphy; noting that after years of limited funding, the Highlands Conservation Act has received its full $10,000,000 appropriation in each of the last three budget cycles. It is now nearly one sixth of the entire land protection budget of the US Fish and Wildlife Service that administers the Highlands funds.

The Greenprint Partners Pledge Fund is an innovative approach to conservation finance developed by HVA and its donor networks to help its conservation partners accomplish regionally significant land protection projects like the Vagliano transaction. Unlike a traditional land acquisition fund, subscribers to the Greenprint Partners Pledge fund manage their own money and agree to contribute $250,000 to one or more conservation opportunities vetted by HVA and directed to its conservation partners. To date, the Greenprint Partners Pledge Funds has directed $900,000 to four outstanding land protection projects, leveraging more than $6.6 million in public and private funding and saving 1,646 acres.

The Housatonic Valley Association is a regional watershed organization and accredited land trust working across western New England and eastern New York with its headquarters in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut. HVA sponsors and staffs the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, a regional conservation partnership of more than 30 land trusts and conservation minded organizations committed to saving more important places in Northwest Connecticut and strengthening their organizations through shared services, training and conservation finance strategies like the Greenprint Partners Pledge Fund.