The Darien Land Trust protects about 200 acres of open space in Darien, 168 of which they own. This number becomes more and more important all the time, as Darien is now about 99% developed. Frankly, there just is not much open space left.

The land protected by the land trust covers all types. Meadows, inland wetlands, woodlands, and tidal wetlands are all part of what is taken care of by the DLT. Olson Woods, Cherry Lawn Park, and Dunlap Woods are all open to the public from dawn until dusk.

The maintenance of this amount of open space is a huge task, and is done entirely with the help of the community at large.

“All maintenance is done by volunteers,” said Shirley Nichols, the Executive Director of Darien Land Trust.  The largest piece is a 50-acre nature reserve, which includes a lake.

The land is visited by the Boy Scouts, the Nature Center, and other groups as well. Second graders across the district take field trips to land trust preserves every year to learn about the plant and animal life that calls the land home.

“Most of the people who come say, ‘wow, I didn’t even know this was here,’” said Nichols, highlighting what a hidden gem these nature preserves have become. The preserves are also dog friendly.

The maintenance of the preserve is critical, and Earth Day is a perfect reason to get involved in their upkeep. “On April 23rd, the day after Earth Day, we will be having our trail improvement day from 11 until 1,” said Nichols.

The land trust is always looking for more volunteers of all sorts. Help with writing a newsletter, taking photos of the preserves, restoring or improving trails, or even a corporate event are all welcome ways for community members to get involved. Working to preserve the open space in Darien while also learning about it is a rewarding experience that the land trust counts on.

More about the land trust can be found at, including maps of the space, more information about wildlife, and information about how to get involved.