Beginning in 1952, an active group was dedicated to protecting the Mianus Gorge. However, by late 1953, it was clear that the opinions of the group alone were not sufficient to secure the funding to protect the Gorge. As one of the Founders put it, “to base a fund drive with any prospect of success, an evaluation of the Gorge by professional scientists was needed. Was the Gorge worthy of conservation, as we hoped it was, or was it not, in which later case efforts to save it might well be given up?”
On December 13, 1953, the Professional Evaluation Committee, comprised of the five Mianus River Gorge founders and four professional naturalists, embarked on the “Long Walk”. The committee spent the day inspecting the Gorge and the adjoining riverfront land. The committee members were professional affiliates of the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Audubon Society of Greenwich, The Nature Conservancy of Washington, and Connecticut College of New London.
The professionals were impressed. Here was a “wilderness island” where one might find and study plant and animal life. It was, the professionals agreed, “an outdoor schoolroom, a sanctuary, a museum, and a place of abiding beauty”. Mianus Gorge must be maintained and protected– that was the decision and recommendation of the Professional Evaluation Group at a luncheon following the visit. And that was precisely what the Mianus Gorge Conservation group, organized that same day, resolved to do.
Today, 60 years later, the Mianus River Gorge continues the legacy of the Long Walk. The Gorge continues to base its decisions on scientific rigor, and the land is used only for its original intent– research, education, and a place for visitors to enjoy natural beauty.