The Nature Conservancy Pilot Project at Burnham Brook Preserve

Community Foundation of Middlesex County, The Nature Conservancy Launch Equitable Conservation Initiative

Pilot project to increase awareness and access to 1122-acre Burnham Brook Preserve

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) and The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut (TNC in CT) announced a new pilot project to expand access to Burnham Brook Preserve as well as conservation initiatives and experiences in the Preserve region. The 1122-acre oasis for birds, wildlife and people stretches from East Haddam to Old Lyme and protects the watersheds of Burnham Brook, Strong Brook, and the Eightmile River. It is one of the most important conservation areas of the region and is under the stewardship of TNC in CT with grant support provided by CFMC. Over the next three years, CFMC grant awards will help TNC manage the Preserve to ensure it supports terrestrial resilience to climate change; conduct outreach especially through a volunteer program; and create greater awareness and access throughout Middlesex County and the towns of the lower Connecticut River. The historic TNC Burnham Brook office space will also open its doors to educational partners, and new outreach initiatives will make the Preserve more accessible and its conservation initiatives more equitable.

Esther and Richard Goodwin believed the preservation and conversation of our natural spaces; they chose to establish the Fund for Preservation and Stewardship of Natural Areas to support the Burnham Brook Preserve in perpetuity through a planned gift.

The initial act of conservation started in 1960 when the late Dr. Richard Goodwin, co-founder of The Nature Conservancy and renowned professor and land preservationist, and his spouse Esther donated 46 acres of forest, fields, and streams in East Haddam to TNC in CT. In 2005, a few years before the couple’s passing, they established the Fund for Preservation & Stewardship of Natural Areas at CFMC. The Fund provides ongoing support to TNC in CT for the preservation and ecological management of the property and for the development of educational opportunities. CFMC staff and Fund committee members have been diligent in honoring the Goodwin’s legacy and making the wonders of Burnham Brook more accessible to everyone without disrupting the natural habitat.

“From the preserve’s earliest days, Dr. Goodwin envisioned that, ‘when the time is right,’ Burnham Brook’s biodiversity and beauty would not only be protected but also showcased through engagement and education to attract new generations of conservationists,” said Dr. Frogard Ryan, state director at TNC in CT. “CFMC and TNC in CT have worked together for over a decade to figure out how best make that vision a reality and extend the reach of this extraordinary place beyond its current borders.”

Connecting TNC with other community partners that provide educational programming is one of CFMC’s primary goals and a template that can be used in other areas. Both organizations hope to make Burnham Brook a conservation change agent in the greater community by creating more opportunities for anyone seeking to enjoy and protect Connecticut’s natural landscape.

“As we celebrate 25 years of the Community Foundation helping good people do great things, we recognize and applaud the Goodwins’ passion, vision, and commitment to our natural world,” stated Cynthia Clegg, CEO and President of CFMC. “They truly understood the value of working together and leveraging resources to improve the quality of life for all now and forever. We look forward to continuing their stewardship in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and other like-minded community organizations.”


The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization founded in 1997 by a group of local individuals and businesses dedicated to building community through philanthropy, leadership, and partnership. Support is provided to nonprofit programs and services including animal welfare, arts and culture, health and social services, the environment, education, history, economic security, civic improvements, and recreation. More information can be found online at or by calling 860-347-0025.


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. TNC is tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably, and helping make cities more sustainable. TNC’s Connecticut chapter has protected more than 53,000 acres of land and is engaging with communities throughout the state to help build and conserve a more resilient, livable world. To learn more, visit or follow @TNC_CT on Twitter.


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