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Granby Living April2018

FEATURE BY CONNOR HOGAN

FEATURE BY CONNOR HOGAN Photos courtesy of McLean Game Refuge — all rights reserved McLean Game Refuge: A Community Treasure Hello from the McLean Game Refuge. My name is Connor Hogan, and I am the new Refuge Director after the retirement of longtime director Steven Paine. Prior to joining McLean, I served as the Assistant Manager of the Yale School Forests, a collection of six forests encompassing over 10,000 acres across Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. I have been in my new role at the Refuge for seven months, and have enjoyed meeting many of the regular visitors. I look forward to getting to know more of the community as the weather warms up and brings visitors for springtime recreation. The McLean Game Refuge has an extraordinary legacy, and its preserved land offers a sanctuary for all. The private forest preserve was established in 1932 by George P. McLean, who was both a former governor and U.S. senator for Connecticut. Sen. McLean loved the fields and wildlands of his native Simsbury and spent much of his public and private life protecting the animals that inhabited them. During the latter part of his life, Sen. McLean purchased over 3,000 acres of land in Simsbury, Granby and Canton as a private fishing and hunting preserve. Before his death in 1932, he included instructions in his will for his lands to be managed in perpetuity as a wildlife refuge for the protection of animals and forests as well as a place for people in surrounding towns to enjoy hiking and snowshoeing or simply to find peace in nature. McLean Game Refuge is sustained through the vision and foresight of Sen. McLean’s endowment and the community’s ongoing charitable contributions. 20 Miles of Trails, 2.5 Million Trees Today, McLean honors his will by actively managing the refuge for wildlife habitat and forest health and by maintaining over 20 miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. The refuge has grown from the original 3,300 acres to over 4,400 thanks to the dedicated efforts of the McLean Board of Trustees and past refuge directors. The refuge includes some of the oldest and largest forest areas in the state. The forests along Bissell Brook are particularly old for New England, having been established during the middle of the 19th century. Some of the oldest white pine trees tower over 140 feet high and exceed 4 feet in diameter. About 2.5 million trees of all ages compose our diverse forests, and they are home to hundreds of animal species. In the past few decades, there has been a dramatic return of some of our larger and more charismatic animals, including black bears, turkeys, ravens and pileated woodpeckers. Visitors also regularly see owls, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, snakes and waterfowl. Since the late 1970s, the trustees of McLean have conducted scientific studies of the refuge to assess and monitor its ecological diversity and health. Past comprehensive analyses from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the State University of New York School of Environmental Studies and Forestry have provided deep understandings of the refuge’s plant and animal communities. The land preserved within McLean Game Refuge includes a unique assemblage of ecosystems formed across three of Connecticut’s major geologic zones. Eskers and kettle ponds tell of the region’s glacial history, and the basalt ridges that include the Barndoor Hills tell of the once-volcanic nature of the Connecticut River Valley. Nestled within this storied ancient landscape are reminders of the land’s more recent past. Numerous cellar foundations, wells and stone walls recount the early settlement of the area by colonial communities of the 18th and 19th centuries. Presidential Visitors Still standing are three log buildings constructed in the 20th century by the first caretaker of McLean’s land, Amos George. The oldest and most notable of the buildings is the charming log cabin just north of Trout Pond. From his headquarters at this cabin, Sen. McLean would entertain esteemed guests — including President William Taft and President Calvin Coolidge with First Lady Grace Coolidge — for a day of fishing followed by a meal overlooking the pond. 8 | APRIL 2018

A century has passed since Sen. McLean walked the forests of the refuge, but we preserve his legacy by maintaining both his cabin and Trout Pond. Sen. McLean had water from nearby Bissell Brook diverted and dammed to form a beautiful pond that could be stocked with trout and serve as a habitat for local and migrating waterfowl. Over many decades, the earthworks that held back the waters of Trout Pond began to fail, and McLean’s trustees orchestrated a major renovation project to rebuild the dam and spillway system of the pond. Additionally, they installed a fish ladder to allow migrating fish to bypass the upstream dam and access important spawning areas deep within the refuge. Though no longer home to stocked trout, Trout Pond does provide prime habitat for turtles, waterfowl, warm water fish, beavers, muskrat and numerous other animals. In autumn, visitors can witness the brilliance of fall colors reflected on its waters and enjoy flocks of migrating Canada geese as they make their way south to the Connecticut shore and beyond. Visiting McLean Game Refuge In carrying out the instructions of Sen. McLean’s will, we open the McLean Game Refuge to the public for passive recreation. Visitors can hike, trail run, snowshoe, cross-country ski and ride horses (in designated areas) on our miles of trails and unpaved woodland roads every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. Hunting and fishing are prohibited, as are bikes, motorized vehicles, camping and fires. Additionally, all visitors with pets must ensure they remain on leash and in control at all times in the refuge, without exception. Through regular trail maintenance, McLean staff works hard to provide a safe place for recreation. However, the refuge covers rough, forested terrain and is home to many wild animals. We encourage visitors to remain aware of their surroundings, and we ask that they report to us unsafe trail conditions or animal behavior. We welcome you to join the thousands of other individuals and families who visit the McLean Game Refuge throughout the year. See you all out on the trails! On your road to recovery, at Ask about Multi- Dose Medication Packaging We accept all Medicare D plans, including CVS/Caremark and Tricare. Free Delivery available. 860-653-2517 9 HARTFORD AVENUE, GRANBY, CT 06035 WWW.GRANBYPHARMACY.COM PROVIDING • Short-Term Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care • Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapies • IV Therapies • Orthopedic Rehabilitation • Stroke & Neurological Rehabilitation • Pulmonary & Cardiac Recovery • Complex Medical Care • Pain Management • Wound Care 350 Salmon Brook Street Granby CT 860.653.9888 athenanh.com/meadowbrook Managed by Athena Health Care Systems GRANBY LIVING | 9

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