The Suffield Land Conservancy (SLC) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and to celebrate, they are establishing a 23-acre outdoor learning center directly across from the Suffield High School (SHS). A principal mission of the SLC is to educate the community about our natural surroundings and the impact of nature on the health of our planet. With this goal in mind, the organization is working with the Suffield school system to provide an educational resource that is right outside the students’ door.
The John & Madeline McClean Outdoor Education Preserve, named for the property donor’s parents, is intended to enhance our next generation’s appreciation for nature and promote stewardship for the environment. The property has multiple ecosystems including an overgrown orchard and meadow, hard and soft wood stands, a stream, wetlands and vernal pools. These natural resources, science equipment and observation stations will give our SHS teachers and students new tools to learn plant and animal identification, wetland delineation, soil and water testing, and climate monitoring. The SLC plans to construct two Adirondack type shelters, a raised observation platform and two ground level decks. In order to finance the project, which is estimated to cost over $200,000, a fundraising campaign has been underway with over $80,000 raised to date. A town wide mailing highlighting the project will be arriving in mailboxes soon.
Since its founding in 1981, the Suffield Land Conservancy has grown to over 700 acres on 32 properties throughout our town. All of the lands are open to the public, and low impact usage is encouraged. Many parcels have hiking trails, and others are simply there to be explored. The SLC was started with a simple mission: to preserve Suffield’s natural environment and biodiversity. They have had tremendous success due to the support of people who appreciate the importance of preserving our precious natural resources. Their hope is that this new outdoor education preserve will help educate the next generation to carry on this mission.