September 2020 Update– Devil’s Den Preserve remains closed at this time, and we do not yet have a re-opening date confirmed.
We recognize what a great asset the preserve is for nature and the community, and look forward to the time when we can re-open it. Currently, some of our concerns with re-opening extend beyond direct exposure to COVID-19 and are unique to the preserve. Below are some reasons for the extended closure, but they are not all-encompassing. Some considerations involve sensitive matters, but we can confirm that hunting has not been an item of consideration in our closure.
- Parking: While open, some visitors blocked traffic along Pent Road. Residents had trouble getting in and out of their homes and emergency services informed us that this situation was untenable.
- Visitors staying after dark: When visitors stay in the preserve past dark, often emergency services must be called to help them find their way out. Given the size of the preserve and the desire to not take capacity away from other more important services at the moment, we have to take steps to reduce the number of calls they receive and points at which their services may be needed.
- Stewardship: Parks and preserves are experiencing an unprecedented number of visitors. Managing that volume of visitation requires people and resources. Our volunteer program is on hold and our staff must limit contact with others for everyone’s safety. Given we are a private organization and operating at a reduced capacity, we had to make some hard but temporary choices to ensure we maintain the ecological integrity of this important preserve.
All of our other preserves in Connecticut are open to the public, and a few nearby options are below. In visiting, we ask that current visitation rules and the most current public health guidelines— including social distancing measures— are followed.
- TNC’s nearest preserve is our Katharine Ordway Preserve located at 165 Goodhill Road in Weston. There are 3 miles of trails and this would be appropriate for a 1 hour hike at a leisurely pace.
- TNC is a partner in Centennial Watershed State Forest. This a large trail system which is seeing lots of use lately around the Saugatuck Reservoir. Please see this web site for more information and a map: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Forests/Centennial-Watershed-State-Forest/Activities
- Redding Land Trust (https://reddingctlandtrust.org/ ) and Aspetuck Land Trust offer trails as well. The largest would be Aspetuck Land Trust’s Trout Brook Valley Preserve.
We made this decision in consultation with local government, our partners, and emergency services. As soon as we have new information to share we will post it on nature.org/devilsden and our visitor information line (203.226.4991 and press 4 for visitor information).
Thank you in the meantime for your understanding.
-The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut
March 22, 2020– Effective immediately, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut is closing Devil’s Den Preserve in Weston and Redding until further notice. This is in support of the state’s efforts to enhance social distancing measures. We ask residents to only leave home to access essential services in order to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus/COVID 19.
While we typically encourage people to connect with nature, we have to balance that goal with the need to ensure the public’s health and safety. The dramatic increase in visits to Devil’s Den recently has led to large groups congregating there with a lack of social distancing, and to visitors not heeding the town of Weston’s recent request to refrain from parking on roads which can block emergency access for our neighbors.
We ask for your patience and compliance with this closure. With today’s rapidly evolving circumstances, we have to prioritize the safety of our supporters, staff and volunteers. We will adjust as necessary with guidance from public health officials and the State of Connecticut.
Nature’s beauty and strength persist in times of turmoil and can still be appreciated safely at home. We look forward to taking a hike with you again in the future at Devil’s Den.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.