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Making a Difference

A Haven for Wildlife and the Community

Betsey Fowler loves the late afternoon light at Still Pond and the way the sun shimmers through the trees and illuminates the water. “We spent many wonderful times here watching the sunset and sitting around the fire ring with family and friends, while Jim told stories,” she reminisces. “He was a wonderful storyteller.”

Betsey and her late husband, Jim Fowler, bought their six-acre property on Silvermine Road from a friend in 1984. It was their home base for over 30 years – the place where they raised their children, Mark and Carrie, and where they came to relax and catch their breath from their hectic professional lives. Jim and Betsey traveled the globe: he as a renowned wildlife conservationist and co-host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom; and she as an acclaimed artist.

At Still Pond, they could kick back, relax, and enjoy the serenity of nature.

“We’d watch hawks from our bedroom window and stroll around the pond. Jim had a pet bluebird that loved to perch on his shoulder,” she recalls. “That bird followed him everywhere.” And they entertained visitors, including many of the exotic animals that accompanied Jim on his frequent speaking engagements.

SOMETHING WORTH PROTECTING

When it came time for Jim and Betsey to move on, they wanted to find a way to preserve the Still Pond property and save it from development. “With the Land Trust’s fields and woods abutting our land, it seemed like the perfect way to enhance a haven for wildlife,” she explained. “It made sense to remove our old house and convert our land into a nature preserve for people to enjoy.”

With their vision and enthusiasm, and an agreement to sell the property at below-market value, the Land Trust embarked on a multi-year campaign to raise $1.3 million to purchase and preserve the property.

Thanks to generosity of our community—neighbors, the Town, State, and the Trust for Public Land, and people like you—the Silvermine-Fowler Preserve was established in 2017. The preserve now encompasses 41 acres, including the Hicks Meadow and former Audubon property at Cedar Lane.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor our love of the land than by turning our home into a wildlife preserve.”

NOW, THE CARING FOR THE LAND

Now in the second year of a three-year native plant project to improve the habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife, the land is providing an important haven for wildlife. The project involves removing invasive plant species, replanting the understory with native trees and shrubs, and sowing a native wildflower meadow on the former home site.

 “I’m delighted to see so many people come together and work on this project,” reflected Robin Bates-Mason of Planet New Canaan. “It’s a great project to highlight native plants and demonstrate how we can all enhance the natural habitats in our own backyards.” So far, the Land Trust’s summer interns, board and staff, and volunteers from the Boy and Girl Scouts, SLOBs, National Charity League, and STAR have all lent a hand. The new meadow should be blooming next year.

It’s become a special place to many, including Betsey Fowler, who feels very fortunate to be able to continue to visit Still Pond.

She stops by frequently to feel close to Jim, who died earlier this year. “I feel so blessed to have lived the life I’ve had, to travel the world and meet so many interesting people and have so much fun doing it. I can’t think of a better way to honor our love of the land than by turning our home into a wildlife preserve.”