Stonington – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will only permit archery hunting on the Al Harvey Road property it will acquire with the city, the Avalonia Land Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land.
Hunting will be permitted from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, and Fish and Wildlife will designate a hunting area to encompass only the northern part of the so-called Brewster region.
Hunting for big and small game as well as birds can take place from Monday to Saturday from September to December. These include deer, turkey, coyote, quail, pheasant, squirrel, and raccoon, among other species.
Information signs and pamphlets will be created, electronic calls and baiting will be prohibited, and tree stand shades and other hunting equipment may not be left on the refuge overnight.
Wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation will also be permitted. A small car park will also be created.
The Fish and Wildlife’s Service announcement on Friday came two days after the Board of Selectmen signed a memorandum of understanding with the Avalonia Land Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land to purchase, manage and preserve 130 acres of woodland on Al Harvey Road.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is also working with the Trust for Public Land to purchase the adjacent 102 acres and incorporate them into the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge.
The closure is expected to occur by the end of the month and Avalonia will manage the 130 acres of open space. The city is contributing $270,000 from its $375,000 green space fund to help buy the land from trustee Katherine Anne Brewster-Duffy. The plan also asks the Fish and Wildlife Service to contribute $580,000 and Aquarion Water Co. to add another $230,000.
First coach Danielle Chesebrough said last week that the city and Avalonia will now create a trail and parking plan for 10 to 20 cars, which she hopes will be ready by the end of the year. The land will be open to the public for passive recreation.
The Fish and Wildlife Service purchase was controversial after neighbors raised concerns about whether hunting would be allowed on the site and what steps would be taken to ensure the safety of those using the two properties. Neighbors failed to get fish and wildlife officials to discuss the details of a possible hunt on land the agency would control or hold a public hearing to outline its hunting plan.
In February, the Fish and Wildlife Service allowed people to submit comments on its plans to buy the 102 acres and open them up for activities that could include hunting, hiking, photography and other uses. Fifty people submitted comments.