Tag Archives: Haskins Preserve

Photo Challenge #150

Compo Road South is home to 2 beautiful town-owned properties.

Everyone knows Baron’s South. A few “06880” readers thought last week’s photo showed rocks and woods on that land a few steps from downtown, once owned by perfume mogul Walter Langer von Langendorff.

Nope. As Leigh Gage, Alec Head and Jamie Walsh knew, it was Haskins Preserve — the much-lesser-known gem on Green Acre Lane, off South Compo. It’s just as lovely as Baron’s South, and easier to access. Click here for the back story; click here for Wendy Cusick’s photo.

Equally rustic is this sign, commemorating Westport’s founding as a town. In fact, it looks like it dates all the way back to 1835. If you know where in Westport you’d see it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Pic Of The Day #194

Haskins Preserve (Photo/Wendy Cusick)

“Tails, Trails And Tales”: Etiquette For Dogs (And Their Owners)

Haskins Preserve is going to the dogs.


The 16-acre park off Green Acre Lane — itself a quiet, lovely road off South Compo — is an astonishing place. Filled with woods, meadows, 2 ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees, it’s one of Westport’s most wonderful little gems.

It’s beloved by nature lovers. Walkers. And — in this dog-crazy town — dog owners.

Haskins Preserve's dogwoods and daffodils -- a lovely combination.

Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.

The latter group does not always treat the preserve well. I’ve posted 2 stories in the past 3 years about dog issues. One described bags of poop left on a sign requesting owners to remove waste. The other was about mounting mounds of doo left all over the beautiful property.

That crappy problem is now worse than ever. There are also reports of out-of-control dogs threatening wildlife — it’s a nature preserve, not a park — as well as other dogs, even people.

Ground nesting birds can be chased from their nests by free-running dogs — on purpose, or inadvertently. If it happens often, birds won’t return to the nest.

And dogs looking to refresh themselves with a harmless jump into a forest pool can silt it up, destroying egg larvae from salamanders and frogs. That, of course, affects many other types of interconnected wildlife.


A hard-to-believe scene at Haskins Preserve.

Aspetuck Land Trust — the non-profit organization that maintains Haskins, as well as many other open spaces in Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Easton — is not rolling over and playing dead.

This Saturday (May 7, 10 a.m.-noon), they’re sponsoring a free, open-to-the-public class in dog and dog owner etiquette.

“Tails, Trails and Tales” will be conducted as a hike. Connecticut Audubon Society senior director of science and conservation Milan Bull, his dog Edge, and noted dog trainer Jason Hofmann will walk, talk and provide answers to questions you’ve always wondered about: What does a dog sense in the woods? What does a biologist observe? How do we accommodate both, and protect the environment too?

(Interestingly, except for Edge, this is a dog-free event. The hike leaders request no dogs, to avoid chaos.)

Responsible dog owners respect property -- and all animals.

Responsible dog owners respect property — and all animals.

“Tails, Trails and Tales” is limited to 20 people. To RSVP, email administration@aspetucklandtrust.

Parking is available at the preserve, on Green Acre Lane off South Compo.

Which is not to be confused with Westport’s actual dog park, Winslow, on North Compo.

(To read more about Haskins Preserve, click here.)

Hey, Has Anyone Seen My Shoes?!

An alert Westporter walking his dog this morning at the Haskins preserve looked up and discovered a new definition of “shoe tree”:

Shoes in Haskins Preserve

Meanwhile, for weeks another pair of shoes has dangled even more mysteriously above Myrtle Avenue:

Myrtle Avenue

Baby, it’s cold outside. This is no time to go barefoot!




Poop Plea

Haskins Preserve is an astonishing site on Green Acre Lane (off South Compo Road) administered by Aspetuck Land Trust. Its 16 acres are filled with woods, meadows, ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees.

Many Westporters have never heard of it. Those who have, treasure it as an oasis of beauty and solitude.

Most do, anyway.

Dog waste is a mounting problem at the Haskins Preserve. And it’s not just droppings on trails and paths. Some owners actually take the time to wrap waste in plastic bags — then leave them lying around.

Some sleazeballs “hide” the poop behind rocks and trees. Others are more brazen. They dump the dumps within sight of a sign saying, “Please remove dog waste.”

Steward Jamie Walsh has posted a video documenting this spectacularly rude and seriously obnoxious behavior.

Why don’t the stewards just put garbage cans at Haskins Preserve?

“We’re a volunteer organization, with a limited budget and resources,” Jamie explains. “It’s not practical for someone to empty them on a regular basis.

“And it would attract wildlife that would feast on the remaining garbage, which would then be strewn all over the parking lot.”

Haskins is a preserve — not a park. Is it too much to ask that if you bring your dog with you, then you take your dog’s business out?

For some Westporters, the answer is apparently: yes.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.


Do You Want To Know A Secret?

I thought I knew every place in town.

I’ve shown long-time Westporters the undiscovered treasures of Compo Cove.  I can point out the hidden teeny-tiny town-owned parcels off Beachside Avenue and Saugatuck Shores.

But until last weekend, I’d never set foot in Haskins Preserve.

In fact, I’d never even heard of it.

Minutes after discovering it, the 16-acre park off Green Acre Lane — itself a quiet, lovely road off South Compo — became one of my favorite spots in Westport.

One of the two ponds, with an island birds love.

It’s an astonishing place — woods, meadows, 2 ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees — made even more so by its history, and its anonymity.

Anonymity first.  Haskins Preserve is administered by the Aspetuck Land Trust.  For 45 years, this organization has preserved open space and natural resources here and in surrounding towns.  They don’t toot their own horn, so you’d never know they manage 7 preserves, salt marshes and arboretums in Westport.

As for history, head back to Caryl and Edna Haskins.  A noted scientist, author, inventor, philanthropist, government advisor and pioneering entomologist in the study of ant biology (!), Caryl died in 2001 at 93.

Edna was a scientist too, at a time when few women entered the field.  Her research encompassed diagnostics explosives and alkalimetal hydrides — and ant biology too.  She died in 2000, age 88.

The bulk of their $15 million estate went to the Carnegie Institution.  But they left their 22-acre Green Acre Lane estate to Aspetuck — with the stipulation that a portion be sold to generate funds to create a nature preserve — and the result is a true Westport gem.

Scott Smith, on a misty afternoon.

It took 3 years to create the park.  The home is gone; so is what by all accounts was a phenomenal greenhouse.  But after extensive landscaping, restoration of many trees, and clearing of the grounds and ponds, the preserve opened in October 2005.

Very, very quietly.

In topography it’s similar to Winslow Park — not unusual, as it’s only a mile or so from there.  Like Winslow, it’s got paved paths, walking trails, a bowl, benches, woods, meadows and dogs.

Unlike Winslow, it’s got 2 ponds, a stream, a cistern, 2 enormous boulders, and very few visitors.

It also feels much more intimate — and natural.  Close your eyes, open again, and you could easily be in Vermont.

To its regulars, Haskins Preserve is a year-round delight.  There’s skating in the winter, fishing in the summer, bird-watching with the seasons.

And always, the trees.

Dogwoods and daffodils -- what a combination.

Fifty are labeled — larch, Southern red oak, white oak, black oak, tulip poplar, willow, white ash, birch, beech, mulberry, ginkgo, American elm.

Many were brought back by the Haskinses themselves, from their world travels.  Some are almost extinct.

There are rows and rows of flowers too.  Last week, the daffodils were spectacular.

Of course, not many Westporters saw them.  They didn’t know about the Haskins Preserve.

Now you do.

Ssssshhhh…keep it to yourself!

More daffodils!