The Oswegatchie Hills in southeastern Connecticut comprise an exceptional and undeveloped coastal forest on the Niantic River. It is also one of the state’s most vulnerable parcels of open space. A third of this forest is at risk of being lost forever to high density development that would ruin sensitive wildlife habitats and threaten water quality. That’s where Save the Sound enters. We’re uniting our unique mix of legal expertise and coalition-building skills with local grassroots efforts to permanently preserve the land.
View the Save the Oswegatchie Hills mini documentary here.
Learn more about the Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition here.
Wildlife, Water & the Threat
The Hills rise sharply from the Niantic River and create a union of spectacular rock formations, rugged forest, wetlands, and vernal pools that provide a home for a multitude of native plant and animal species. Their coastal location provides a safe haven and refueling stop for migrating birds. And, the Hills provide important protection for the delicate ecosystem of the Niantic River, a tidal estuary that flows directly into the Long Island Sound. The southern two-thirds of the forest is protected as the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve, threaded through with trails that provide hiking and birdwatching for citizens from around the state.
The owner of the threatened parcel of 236 acres, Landmark Development, LLC, seeks to construct 840 units of housing, with 1,767 parking spaces and 36 acres of pavement and hard surfaces. Not only would the diversity of animal and plant life be harmed by this development, but stormwater runoff carrying pollutants from the acres of impenetrable surfaces could threaten water quality on the land, as well as the river below.
The Fight to Save the Hills
Save the Sound is leading the legal fight to protect Oswegatchie Hills in administrative agencies and in the courts. Two local environmental grassroots organizations, the Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve (the Friends) and Save the River-Save the Hills (STR-STH), formed fifteen years ago when Landmark Development Group, LLC first proposed development.
- Save the Sound spearheaded the formation of the Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition, which consists of a broad range of civic leaders, residents, and environmental groups, who advocate preserving the Oswegatchie Hills.
- Save the Sound is fighting the development in the East Lyme Zoning Commission and Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of the entire coalition. Most recently, in October 2021, Save the Sound scored a legal victory in the ongoing battle when the court denied the developer’s appeal and ordered them to supply additional environmental information to allow the zoning commission to adequately consider the environmental consequences of the final site plan and proposed rezoning.
Join the Coalition
The Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition is working locally and across Connecticut to protect this unique landscape.
You can help save the Hills. Please show your passion for protecting the Oswegatchie Hills:
- Sign our online petition.
- View and print the factsheet here.
- Add your organization or business to the Save Oswegatchie Hills Coalition by filling out the coalition sign-on letter and emailing it to Suzanne Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Suzanne for more information on how you can help preserve and protect the Oswegatchie Hills.