Baldwin Hill has been conserved, and will remain farmland forever!
The Department of Agricultural Resources closed on the purchase of Agricultural Preservation Restrictions on Baldwin Hill Farm (175 acres) and Proctor’s Bel-Air Farm (270 acres) on July 30.
First, thanks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its deep investment, and to the Proctor and Burdsall families, who not only kept this land in farming for a combined 154 years, but agreed to take less than appraised value for the APRs.
Those contributions notwithstanding, the projects would not have closed without the generous gifts of over 400 friends and supporters, who provided the “local share” of nearly $400,000 to match the state’s investment.
Lead funding came from the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, together with generous gifts from the Prospect Hill Foundation and many private individuals.
Thank you, and keep your eyes and ears open for the celebratory party!
Photos by Jason Houston.
Guided Wildflower Walk with Tierney Rosenstock at Stevens Glen 9am May 5th
Stevens Glen is hidden in the heart of the Berkshires, not far from Tanglewood. A 1 .4 mile, roundtrip, trail will take you over several bridges on the way to a platform with a great view of roaring Lenox Mountain Brook, cascading through the tight confines of the property.
Tierney Rosenstock, a BNRC intern, is a graduate student in the Environmental Studies Master’s program at Antioch University New England. She received her Bachelor degree in Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in May of 201 0. Tierney has 1 0+ years of horticultural experience and is an avid naturalist. She has been botanizing in the Berkshires for seven years and has extensive knowledge of wildflowers.
For more information visit www.bnrc.net or contact Amanda L’Etoile, ALEtoile@bnrc.net or Tierney Rosenstock, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stockbridge: a raccoon and several coyotes were photographed in the forest nearby a wetland.
Sandisfield: a fisher slinked by and a small herd of deer passed through the riparian cooridor along the Clam River.
Monday April 16th 9am, Yokun Ridge South
Do you feel bad leaving Roofus at home while you’re on an organized hike? BNRC will be having a dog friendly hiking event the 3rd Monday of every month between May and September! These hikes are for well behaved, socialized dogs, under voice control. This gives you and your dog some off-leash time without startling other group hikers who may not be so appreciative of your favorite four-legged companion!
Where: Yokun Ridge North (Burbank Trail & Monks Pond)
When: 9am Olivia’s Outlook parking lot
Distance: 3 miles
Check out the trail maps here: http://www.bnrc.net/properties/4_north_yokun_ridge/
Amanda L’Etoile: email@example.com
Dick Reinhart served as a director of BNRC in the 1980s, at a time when the organization’s future was anything but certain. At one moment of crisis, Reinhart called a meeting of community leaders at the Hilton hotel (now the Crowne Plaza), and wouldn’t let anyone leave until he had gathered $25,000 in pledges to stave off disaster. In 1996, Reinhart called to let us know that one of his favorite places to hunt in Lanesboro might be available for conservation. That tip led directly to the protection of Constitution Hill, a landmark property that not only provides ample hunting and walking options, but also serves as the site of the Constitution Hill snowshoe race and gives back-deck diners at the Old Forge Restaurant a beautiful view. Reinhart remained a great friend of BNRC his whole life. We cherish his memory and send our condolences to his family.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council seeks proposals for the lease or purchase of its 187-acre Fletcher Farm, a former hillside dairy farm in Lanesboro, Massachusetts.
This beautiful farm has 70 acres of field. It includes a house and Quonset-hut storage barn. The land is subject to a permanent Agricultural Preservation Restriction. Other agricultural amenities nearby include farmstands and u-pick fruit operations.
BNRC will consider the proposal that serves the best use of the land while serving the greatest public benefit. Apart from financial considerations, BNRC will consider factors including agricultural program, conservation values, and community benefits.
For the complete bid package, click here: FLETCHER FARM, or call BNRC at (413)499-0596.
We’re very happy to announce that BNRC and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife recently completed a highly complex and ecologically stunning land conservation project centered around Cranberry Pond in West Stockbridge.
Here’s a link to the state’s press release — cut and paste into your browser if the link is not hot here:
The three-year old legal fight over Mahanna Cobble, the summit of Lenox Mountain above the Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield, has ended with a settlement that ensures permanent conservation for the scenic ridgeline tract.
Under the settlement, Patrick Muraca, Geometry Group, Inc. and Geometry Realty, Inc. (collectively, “Geometry”), have dropped their appeals of Superior Court decisions that confirmed Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s right to purchase 80 acres around the mountain’s summit, and that subsequently ordered Geometry to reimburse BNRC for its legal expenses.
“Mahanna Cobble will be forever green and open to the public,” said Tad Ames, BNRC president. “It is the outcome we fought for, and we feel today that justice has been served.”
The case had its origins in 2007, when BNRC signed a contract to purchase the mountain land from the Bousquet Ski Area owners. Before the transaction closed, Muraca, backed by Geometry, offered to buy the entire ski area and all its holdings, including the mountain land.
When Bousquet indicated to Geometry that it intended to go through with the sale of the mountain land to BNRC, Geometry filed suit to block the transaction.
In a 2009 Superior Court decision, Judge Daniel Ford found that BNRC’s contract was valid, clearing the way for BNRC to buy the land in December 2009.
Following a six-day trial in August 2010, Judge Ford ruled that Geometry had interfered with BNRC’s contract, and ordered Geometry to reimburse BNRC $64,500 in attorney’s fees expended to defend its contractual rights to the land.
Under the agreement, Geometry dropped its appeal of the legal fees decision and BNRC has recovered $45,000 in legal fees.
BNRC’s Hoosac Range project culminated on Saturday, June 18, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting to officially open the Berkshires’ newest hiking trail, a spectacular three-mile path linking the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) in North Adams to dramatic Spruce Hill in the Savoy Mountain State Forest.
At a ceremony attended by over 70 people, and at least three dogs, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright celebrated the new amenity for the city, and BNRC President Tad Ames thanked and introduced the project’s essential partners, including ribbon cutters Amanda L’Etoile, Jennifer Howard of the MA Department of Conservation & Recreation, BNRC board member Ellen Hand, and Mary Walden, former ridgeline landowner who conveyed the “last piece of the puzzle” to BNRC in 2009.
Ames also acknowledged, among others, the vital contributions of the Nion Robert Thieriot Foundation and BNRC board member Sally Bell, who provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal service over the course of the four-year project.
Founding BNRC President George Wislocki, whom Ames described as the “animating spirit” behind all of BNRC’s work, was among the inaugural hikers.
L’Etoile, an MCLA student who has been involved in the project from the start as a trailbuilder, trip leader, volunteer coordinator and all-around conservation ambassador, received the “Golden Sledgehammer” award for her “rock star” contributions to the trail.
The project started in June 2007 with a tip from North Adams resident Andy Kawczak that 195 acres on the mountain owned by the Adelphia Cable Co., were to be auctioned at bankruptcy proceedings. BNRC bid on the land, and won. The success with Adelphia led to rapid-fire acquisitions of five more tracts on the mountain over the next two years, resulting in the conservation of 730 contiguous acres over two linear miles of ridgeline.
Ames said that Williamstown resident Pamela Weatherbee, who accompanied BNRC on its first scouting trip on the mountain in 2007, had provided the fundamental encouragement without which the project would never have lifted off.
“Pam is the foremost botanist in western Massachusetts,” he said. ”We knew that if the land didn’t interest her, it wouldn’t interest anybody.”
Following the last acquisition in 2009, plans started to create the hiking trail, which was designed by Peter Jensen, formerly of Great Barrington. Trail workers broke ground on June 29, 2010, and apart from a few last details, completed work this month.
The land is open year-round during daylight hours for all forms of passive recreation, including hunting in season. Use of motorized vehicles is prohibited.
BNRC manages over 18,000 acres of land and conservation restrictions around Berkshire County, “for public benefit and enjoyment.”
Housatonic River Adventure
Source-to-Sound Paddle Trip
May 3 – May 12, 2011
Experience the Housatonic River Adventure a Source to Sound Paddle trip and celebrate the beauty of the Housatonic River. This River Adventure begins in the Hinsdale Flats on May 3 and concludes in Long Island Sound on May 12. The Housatonic Valley Association is coordinating this 10 – day long river celebration in partnership with Housatonic Heritage. Experience educational, historical and informational programs along the way provided by many local groups. Bring your family and freinds to enjoy riverside events or register to paddle for a couple of hours or for the entire 10-day journey led by three expert canoe guides.
For more information about riverside events and to register for free paddle trips, visit: http://www.hvatoday.org/show.cfm?page=SourceToSound.htm(Paddlers must provide their own equipment.)
BERKSHIRE NATURAL RESOURCES COUNCIL
with additional support from:
Berkshire County League of Sportsmen
Berkshire Environmental Action Team
The Old Forge Restaurant