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Done deal with conservationists saves Deer Lake from development

Deer Lake entrance.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
The entrance to Deer Lake Scout Reservation in Killingworth, Connecticut.

More than 1,300 donors from across Connecticut and 34 other states raised $4.75 million to help close the sale of Deer Lake camp for conservation. The nonprofit conservationist group, Pathfinders, is the new owner.

Ted Langevin, President of Pathfinders, the new owners of Deer Lake speaks to the press.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
Ted Langevin is the president of Pathfinders, the nonprofit conservationists group that is the new owners of Deer Lake.

Ted Langevin, the president of Pathfinders, said now the site is saved, they can move forward on their three promises.

“One of them is to preserve the green space and conserve it,” Langevin said. “Second one is to keep the camp alive through the camping program. And the third is to increase public access.”

“Those goals are in our forefront and are still partially complete cause we achieved the goal of gaining possession of the property.”

Earlier this year, the former owners of the property, the Connecticut Yankee Council, part of Boy Scouts of America, were set to sell the Killingworth campgrounds to a private developer for $4.6 million.

Protests by current and former scouts, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and State Attorney General William Tong pressured for the delayed closing of sale, giving conservationists enough to outbid developers.

Much of the funds were raised through individual donations online to help with Deer Lake’s future preservation, as well as support from two private lenders.

“I was looking back,” Deer Lake camp ranger Mark Clifton said. “This started as a camp 90 years ago with a gentleman named Ralph Hill, and it's just continued in the same format, more or less.

“And it’s funny, there are folks from Ralph Hill’s days back in the 30s and 40s still come to camp here once or twice a year just to remember, and it obviously has touched their lives,” he continued.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.