ZEELANDIA: A small nature refuge on Roseland Lake



Zeelandia is a small private nature refuge on the north end of Roseland Lake in Woodstock CT which was donated to The Wyndham Land Trust in 2016. Zeelandia parcel It is named in honor of Douglas Craig Zimmerman, whom friends called "Z."

Doug Zimmerman was an avid outdoorsman. He devoted his career to public service with the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection. In 2010, he died suddenly of a malignant arrhythmia as he jogged through Colt Park. Read more about Doug and tributes in his honor at Cragman.com, which include the Z Rock & Rain Garden at Palmer Hall, and a composting toilet at Bigelow Hollow State Park.


This 6.7 acre parcel was purchased by Bet Zimmerman Smith and Patrick Smith in 2014. On September 30, 2015, the Smith's donated the land (with deed restrictions) to The Wyndham Land Trust so it will always be protected.

The Smith's also donated two potentially buildable lots on the southeast end of Roseland Lake. These two lots (0.4 acres and 0.2 acres) have 220 feet of frontage on the lake, and abut Roseland Terrace Association property that is in the PA-490 (open space) program.

The Smiths hope the donation and protection of these properties will help inspire others to put their land into open space. Of particular concern is land which, if developed, could negatively impact sensitive resources like Roseland Lake.

The primary goals of protecting Zeelandia were to:

  • Conserve and connect open space: All over New England, farms and wetlands are being irreversibly lost to commercial and residential development. Wildlife habitats are becoming fragmented. The backdrops of our historic villages are threatened by suburban style sprawl. The Zeelandia wetlands are adjacent to the land owned by the Roseland Park trustees, creating a larger, unfragmented parcel. The larger the area of connected open space, the more valuable it is for wildlife and environmental protection.
  • Offer a safe, undisturbed haven for wildlife: This small parcel is surprisingly rich in wildlife. There are signs of beaver and muskrats. Eagles, hawks and herons, along with a number of small woodland and wetland birds frequent the area. Turtles bask in the cove. The parcel harbors a wide variety of vegetation. Read more about wildlife at Roseland Lake.
  • Protect water quality in Muddy Brook and Roseland Lake: The parcel is bordered on the west by Muddy Brook, which feeds Roseland Lake. The water quality of Muddy Brook and the lake are threatened by agricultural practices and development which have impaired water quality in Roseland Lake. Read more about preventing pollution in the watershed.



The Zeelandia parcel is mostly wetlands. It had never been developed. It was owned by the Johnson family. Marcus Johnson's grandfather was one of many locals who worked for Henry Bowen to construct Roseland Park in the 1870s. During the off-season, he helped haul fill to reshape the shoreline. Marcus Johnson recalls haying the area in the 1950s. He said the bales of hay sometimes had live snakes in them, which bit them when they loaded the bales.

Marcus said they used to swim there. His family had actually put in cobblestones on the bottom of the lake near the shore to make swimming more pleasant. The cobblestones are now covered with muck from sedimentation and dead algae. Read more about the History of Roseland Lake and the surrounding land.


Zeelandia is landlocked. There is currently no public access. Crossing from the Roseland Park property would require fording the stream, which is deep in sections. Parts of the wetland and the entire northern and eastern shorelines are quite boggy, and it is easy to sink deep into the muck. However, visitors, boaters and fisherman are encouraged to enjoy this bit of wilderness from the water's edge.