Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

 

Saving New England’s Wildlife Grant Helps Preserve Wildlife Habitat and Recreational Opportunities in West Stockbridge

Cranberry Pond, Jen Melville in Canoe

Cranberry Pond, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts      

NEW YORK, NY – August 11, 2011 – Using a grant from OSI’s Saving New England’s Wildlife initiative, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) have teamed up to permanently protect 290 acres of conservation land in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The newly protected public lands feature recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, and bird watching, while preserving critical habitat for waterfowl and several rare plant and animal species.

“This project is vitally important for protecting wildlife biodiversity, providing recreational opportunities and conserving open space in the Berkshires, and is a prime example of the land conservation legacy the Patrick-Murray Administration is building,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., whose office includes DFG. “Since 2007, under the leadership of Governor Patrick, the Commonwealth has taken action to permanently protect more than 75,000 acres of land across the state.”

Located in the southwest corner of West Stockbridge, the parcel includes 273 acres just north of the Massachusetts Turnpike, which will be named the Flat Brook Wildlife Management Area. The acquisition incorporates an additional 17 acres south of the Turnpike into the existing Maple Hill Wildlife Management Area. Both properties will be managed by DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, which oversees more than 190,000 acres of conservation land in Massachusetts, all of which are open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, and nature observation. The acquisition provides public access to Crane Lake, Flat Brook, and Cranberry Pond, which will greatly improve fishing opportunities in the area.

Since launching Saving New England’s Wildlife in the fall of 2009, OSI has helped local, regional and national land trusts protect nearly 14,000 acres of habitat in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire—including4,300 acres  within Massachusetts’ coastal plain and its rich forests to the west.

“OSI’s focus areas in Massachusetts contain some of the most diverse wildlife habitat in New England, and organizations like the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, along with the commonwealth’s Department of Fish and Game, are doing exemplary work connecting and conserving these lands,” said OSI Executive Vice President Peter Howell.

The Commonwealth expended $1,115,800 on the purchase, using a combination of open space bond funds and Land Stamp revenue derived from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses. The BNRC served as a project facilitator for the multiple landowners and state officials, and privately raised $237,200 to augment the state’s investment.

“Any project of this scale and significance is complex. This was no exception with nine entities – including landowners, trusts and private organizations – involved in working patiently and efficiently together to make this tremendous investment in the Berkshires a reality,” said BNRC Director of Land Conservation Narain Schroeder.

In addition to OSI’s support, the project’s private funders also included the Nion Robert Thieriot Foundation, Pamela B. Weatherbee, and the Trustees of the Natural Resources Damages Fund for the Housatonic River.

The newly acquired land is open to the public for non-motorized passive recreation and will be managed by the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife’s Western Wildlife District office.  DFW and BNRC have engaged in preliminary discussion of how best to install and maintain access amenities, including parking, controls against illicit use, and other improvements.

 

 

Jennifer Melville
Grant & Loan Coordinator
Open Space Institute
26 School Street; Yarmouth, ME 04096
207-846-9700;
jmelville@osiny.org

     

 

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