Purchased in 2000 in a “bargain sale” from Constantine Macricostas, the 238-acre parcel is also commonly known as “Meeker Swamp.” It was bought with a combination of funds from the Town of Washington, Connecticut’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program, and the Steep Rock Association, via individual contributions. The unspoiled land – a mix of meadow, farmland, wooded ridge and wetlands — sits just north of Route 202, opposite the junction of Route 47, and makes a magnificent natural gateway to the town. Contiguous to four other previously donated parcels, as well as the pinnacle overlook above Lake Waramaug, the aggregate preserve now consists of 400 acres.
The central 238-acre parcel consists of 50 acres of prime farmland; 90 acres of woodland and rocky ridge, and 98 acres of critical wetlands, including the headwaters of Bee Brook, a major tributary of the Shepaug River. The site’s unusual geology represents the eastern limit of carbonate (marble) bedrock in this region of the state, and is where three bedrock units come together. Most significantly, the preserve contains one of the Town’s largest fresh water supplies within both bedrock and stratified drift aquifers.
In February of 2003, graduate students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies presented the results of their six-month study of the land, outlining its geology, hydrology, ecology and their recommendations for potential uses. Steep Rock will use that study to develop public access trails, determine farming, fishing and hunting policies, and protect the flora, fauna and wetlands of this precious preserve.
In 2006 the Washington Garden Club completed an interpretive trail along a portion of the yellow blazed trail. Numbered signposts mark unique ecosystems along the interpretive trail, each of which is described in a printed trail guide. Four benches have been placed along the trail. Also in 2006, a viewing platform (shown at right), funded by the Village Improvement Society, was built at the edge of the open water of Meeker Swamp, down a short trail off the northeast corner of the agricultural field.
Exciting news: There is a newly blazed trail in the Macricostas Preserve. The new trail is +/- 0.75 miles (one-way) from June Road to Waramaug Rock. Parking is limited on June Road. The newly blazed trail is currently not on the Macricostas map.