Richard G. Croft Memorial Preserve
Location: East Street North, Goshen
Directions: FROM I-95: Take Exit 27 to Rt. 8 North. Follow from * below.
FROM I-91: Take I-84 West in Hartford or I-691 West in Meriden to I-84 West to Rt. 8 North. Follow * below.
FROM I-84 (East or West): Take Rt. 8 North and follow * below.
* From Route 8: Take Exit 44. Proceed west on Route 4 approx. 5.2 miles. Take a right onto East Street North. The sanctuary is 5.2 miles north of Route 4 and East Street North intersection. Look for gate and Connecticut Audubon Society signs on the right.
Habitat: Upland hardwood forest, hemlock groves, managed early successional habitat, bogs, swamps and beaver pond
Size: Approximately 700 acres
Description and species: One of the largest and least developed sanctuaries owned and managed by Connecticut Audubon Society is the 700 acre Richard G. Croft Memorial Preserve in Goshen, in the rugged northwest hills. This preserve contains a fantastic mix of mature forest, large wetlands, bogs and beaver ponds and is home to an impressive array of wildlife. Limited survey work has revealed the presence of nesting Northern Goshawk, Winter Wren, and Hooded Merganser. Ruffed Grouse are present in seemingly decent numbers still and rarities such as Cerulean and Connecticut Warblers have been seen here as well. Because of the large territory available, Black Bear are common in the preserve and there is a small population of Moose present also.
Connecticut Audubon Society manages sections of this preserve to create and maintain habitat for target bird and wildlife species, and Science and Conservation staff carries out regular site surveys and point counts. Our ongoing monitoring efforts are put in place to periodically assess the impact that our habitat management efforts have on the local birds and other wildlife, so we can fine-tune our future management practices and hopefully provide even more and better habitat for our state’s threatened and endangered species.
We work closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture as part of the Federal Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), which provides funding for wildlife habitat improvement projects. One of the ongoing projects at the Croft Preserve is the creation and maintenance of several early successional habitat areas — clearings with dense scrub vegetation that require periodic maintenance to keep them from reverting to forest. Currently we maintain three separate 15-20 acre habitat management areas ranging in age from 10 to 2.5 years within the otherwise forested preserve.
Another important feature of the Croft Preserve is a 17-acre wooded beaver pond which provides breeding habitat for Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks and many other species. This large wetland continuously changes shape due to the activity of beavers in the area. Old beaver meadows can be found in various parts of the preserve, but recently a newly constructed beaver dam caused a 4+ acre section of the forest to flood. The changes in the habitat that this action causes will provide a great opportunity for study in years to come!
If you are interested in visiting the Croft Preserve, please keep in mind that there is not much of an infrastructure in place. This sanctuary is primarily managed for wildlife and trails are very muddy and steep in places, making them challenging to navigate.
Photographs © Twan Leenders