The Wilton Land Conservation Trust is launching its #Save183Campaign to raise the funds needed to preserve the 13-acre site on Ridgefield Road that was the subject of several heated public hearings at which people argued passionately for the property to not be developed.

“The clock is ticking. Preserve it now or it will be gone forever,” the land trust said in its press release announcing the campaign.

Last May, the Land Trust placed the land under contract and began raising the funds needed to close the $2.3-million transaction. It is hoping Wiltonians will show their support in preserving what many consider an important open space.

The land trust began its quest to purchase the property from the family of the late Jim Fieber when it received a $750,000 pledge from the Bauer Family Foundation. This was followed by pledges from members of the land trust’s board in the amount of $250,000.

“Now all town residents are needed to join in and help get this project over the goal line,” the press release said. In February 2019, the land trust will apply for a Connecticut state grant, which will be the last key component of the purchase.   

The scenic parcel is next to historic Hillside Cemetery and is about one mile north of Wilton Town Center on Ridgefield Road.

Throughout the last week of October, residents will receive in the mail a packet from the land trust that includes a pledge card to complete and send in before year-end. Once the property is acquired, the land trust will partner with the Wilton Historical Society, the Woodcock Nature Center, and the American Chestnut Foundation to establish educational programs on the site for all to enjoy.

“We can’t emphasize enough the urgency of this pledge drive! Your donations will enable us to save a rare meadow habitat that has been undisturbed for decades,” said Donna Merrill, executive director of the land trust. “Once our goal is reached, we will create hiking trails and implement educational programs for people of all ages. Please consider donating today so we can all enjoy this community-wide resource and preserve our cultural heritage.”

A video of the property may be viewed at wiltonlandtrust.org/183/.

Formed in 1964 as a private nonprofit, the land trust’s mission is to protect the environment and character of Wilton for the benefit of its citizens. It relies solely on individual donations and grants, an all-volunteer board of trustees and the time and talent of many volunteers. It receives no financial support from the town or state.

The meadow at 183 Ridgefield Road would be added to more than 830 acres of open space the land trust permanently protects through ownership or conservation easements.