Today, these four acres of forest down to Angeline Brook have officially been protected, thanks to Shattuck’s decision to donate the land to the Coalition for conservation. This donation brings the total acreage of land conserved by the Coalition along Angeline Brook to over 130 acres.
The Buzzards Bay Coalition has spent the last several years working to protect Angeline Brook and surrounding lands to preserve its now-rare cold water stream habitat, one of the few places in southern New England where sea-run brook trout still migrate between fresh and salt water.
Because brook trout can only breed in clean, cold, and uninterrupted freshwater streams, their habitats are vanishing along the coast of New England. Though this habitat was once ubiquitous across the northeast, today it only exists in isolated patches.
Shattuck says that she decided to donate the land based on a mantra of her mother, a conservationist.
“She said, ‘we’re only passing through for a brief lifetime, and you must leave a place better than you found it,’” Shattuck explained. “And since I’ve been cognizant of the Coalition, it’s sort of ignited a lightbulb for me that with water, everything is connected: every little stream into every bay into the ocean is one giant ecosystem.”
Indeed, the woods that Shattuck has helped protect will play an under-appreciated but integral role in ensuring clean water, shading Angeline Brook’s cool waters and helping to filter out pollution.
This parcel of land will join a quilt of protected land forming around Angeline Brook. This includes the 2.47-acre Wood Field, a verdant field on the main road near Shattuck Gallery protected by the Westport Land Conservation Trust in June 2018, and an abutting 9 acres the Coalition protected in 2016. In 2016, over 50 acres along lower Angeline Brook were added to the Herb Hadfield Conservation Area, opening up part of the brook to public access.
“I look at these beautiful fish, in that fairytale forest, and I feel this visceral sense of trying to do anything I can to protect them,” says Shattuck. “They don’t have the microphone, and we all have a possibility of doing something right.”