Western Massachusetts, spanning the 2.8 million-acre region west of Worcester, encompasses intact forests and productive farms, representing a diverse but vanishing landscape. The most significant forestland and large landscapes of Western Massachusetts include the popular Berkshires, the Westfield watershed that collects the water running off the Berkshire Highlands down to the Connecticut River Valley, and the Quabbin region.
Massachusetts has a long story of people living in quiet collaboration with the land. 520,000 acres of farmland and 6,100 farms support local jobs and sustain a rural way of life. More than 80 percent of the state’s farms are family-owned and over 93 percent qualify as “small farms” based on sales. Massachusetts farmers and foresters protect and take care of more than 750,000 acres of orchards, fields, and forests, providing a variety of locally grown products to neighbors and the residents of nearby cities and towns, and saving those thousands of acres of land from development.
The Open Space Institute’s Western Massachusetts Land Protection Fund (“Fund”) is an initiative designed to support the conservation of forested landscapes in western Massachusetts, with a focus on protecting wildlife habitat while also facilitating appropriate human use. The Fund achieves its mission through capital grants for the purchase of conservation easements and fee title.
Programs in Western Massachusetts
In 2009, we added grant opportunities to help land trusts protect the threatened forest landscapes of western Massachusetts. Applications are not being accepted at this time. (June 2012)
OSI's Conservation Finance Program has created a revolving loan fund to facilitate the protection of threatened landscapes in western Massachusetts.