‘It’s Crunch Time’; Non-profit organization works to save Deer Lake Scout reservation – NBC Connecticut
When Christina Forristall walks through the Deer Lake Scout Reserve in Killingworth, she feels calm.
“I love this space. It brings back so many childhood memories. My kids have great memories here,” Forristall said. “It’s definitely more than just a property. It’s just a magical place for kids from all over the coastline.”
The 253-acre reserve has been an important part of Forristall’s family for generations. Now she is part of a grassroots effort to save him.
“It would be devastating to lose him to the community,” Forristall said.
the Boy Scouts of America Connecticut Yankees Council announced in February that they would sell the reservation and were already looking for a buyer.
“Put simply, we have too many properties for the members we have today,” Scouting director Mark Kraus wrote in a statement posted on the council’s website in February this year. “This decision was not taken lightly and was made with the Scouts of today and tomorrow in mind. As we divest from Deer Lake Scout Reservation, the buyer authorizes the Council to lease the property for at least the next three years to function as a camp.”
Kraus did not respond to an interview request for this story.
Shortly after the Connecticut Yankee Council (CYC) made the announcement, a nonprofit organization stepped in and began fundraising. Pathfinders Inc. has launched a “Save the Deer Lake” campaign. They hope to raise enough money to make a competitive offer and buy the reservation.
“Trying to preserve the land. That’s really the first goal. This land is priceless,” said Ted Langevin, president of Pathfinders Inc. “Keeping the property in its natural state and also being able to open it to recreational and educational programs.
According to Langevin, the CYC said it would take $5 million to make a competitive bid. So far, they’ve raised around $4.2 million.
Attorney General William Tong is currently reviewing issues regarding the legal status of the property and a possible sale. According to Tong, at his request, the CYC agreed to postpone consideration of the Deer Lake purchase proposals until May 1.
Pathfinders is working to raise $800,000 before having to submit their proposal at the end of the week to meet the May 1 deadline.
“This is the critical moment,” Langevin said.
Their effort garnered support from lawmakers and environmental groups.
“It’s properties like this that we really need to try to preserve as open spaces. Not only to protect wildlife, but also to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said David Anderson, Head of Ground Campaigns with Save the Sound.
‘Save Deer Lake’ signs are displayed throughout Killingworth and people from across the country have donated to the cause.
Matt Albrecht grew up in Killingworth and fished the lake with his dad. He now lives in Maine, but moved back to Connecticut to sell barrels as a fundraiser for the camp. He raised over $5,000.
“I just donated every penny we raised to camp so we could make a difference,” Albrecht said.
Maeve, a third grader, has been allowed to hold a pajama fundraising day at her school to raise money. Her fundraiser is due to take place this week, but so far she has raised $935, according to her mother.
“The outpouring of community is just amazing,” Langevin said.
To learn more about fundraising efforts, Click here.
“Nobody wants to see this develop,” Forristall said.