Zenda Hilltop Conserved Forever

by Rebecca Dahl, Zenda Farms Program Director

As one of TILT’s Signature Preserves, Zenda Farms Preserve has become well-known and well-loved in the Clayton community. Zenda is a great place for people to connect with the land and TILT, serving as the home for our annual Community Picnic, the Community Garden, and numerous TILTreks throughout the warmer months. Zenda is most commonly visited for the 1.35 mile walking trail and its surrounding views.

Just outside of Clayton, Zenda provides bucolic viewscapes and a place for respite, as the trail winds through rolling hay fields with a beautiful forested backdrop.  This special place summons people from high school students training for their athletic teams to those taking a stroll with a four-legged friend. Since the trail was established in 2011 it has quickly become a feature enjoyed by all.

One of the remarkable things about walking on this trail is the feeling of being immersed in a wild space, despite being near many residential homes. On the north end of the Trail, the forested backdrop is a key component in maintaining this connection with nature.

Over the last year, TILT learned that these woodlands were slated for subdivision and residential development, including five housing lots, with a great potential to fragment or entirely remove this backdrop. The contiguous forest that continues from behind the silver barns, along the north perimeter, to the eastern end of Zenda Farms, provides important habitat. In addition to giving the Preserve its signature vista, this is some of the largest contiguous forest land along the shoreline of mainland Clayton, providing invaluable habitat for many woodland creatures and migrating birds.  The threat to this important habitat for wildlife and public enjoyment of the community propelled TILT to take action.

TILT connected with Bruce “Mac” MacFarlane and family (MSJP Realty, Inc.), the owners of this property, to come up with a solution for this foreseeable problem. Ultimately, TILT was able to work with MSJP to ensure that this backdrop to Zenda would be protected, if TILT could secure the funds to purchase a portion of the property.

With the generous support of a few of Zenda’s closest neighbors including Jim and Peggy Pontious, Ann Sweeten and Randy Yoder, and Mary and Ted Mascott the property was purchased, adding 2.61 acres to Zenda Farms Preserve.

TILT is grateful for the generous support of these individuals to ensure that the vistas and experiences many have enjoyed along the Trail for years, will remain so, in perpetuity. Thank you!

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