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What happened to the Beavers?

Thomas & Palmer Brook Reserve, Great Barrington
September 2023

In summer 2023, BNRC installed a Beaver Deceiver, to regulate water levels and protect the accessible trail. The beavers were unharmed and continue to raise their family just a little farther down the stream.

Often called “ecosystem engineers,” beavers create wetlands that provide rich and valuable habitat for numerous DSCN4915.jpgplants, invertebrates, and wildlife. Like every ecosystem, wetlands created by beavers are dynamic; water levels fluctuate, food resources change. These changes can cause the landscape to look barren or messy, but if you pay close attention to these transitions, you may notice there is abundant wildlife and new growth.

Beavers populated the Berkshires and beyond for thousands of years, until they were wiped out in a matter of decades by the fur trade.

A small population remained in Canada, and in the early 1910s, wildlife biologists brought beavers back to New York, and then Massachusetts. Since then they have made a spectacular comeback, and once again are shaping our environment for the benefit of the ecosystem.

Today, beavers are common and abundant throughout most of Massachusetts, including the Berkshires.  Quite a few BNRC reserves play host to families of beavers, including Thomas & Palmer Brook in Great Barrington, Steepletop in New Marlborough, and Bob’s Way in Monterey.

BNRC values the landscape diversity contribution of beavers to the conservation reserves the organization cares for and beyond.  However, sometimes the presence of beaver dams in areas they share with humans can raise water levels too far, creating flooding that can cause damage.  That was happening here, as the flooding at the site of the dam was threatening to damage the accessible trail on the Meadow Loop. This trail is specifically designed for barrier-free access for wheelchairs, strollers, and mobility aids. Flooding would make it impossible for residents and visitors who need accessible trails to use them.

Fortunately, there are ways to address this without harming the beavers or changing the ecosystem that depends on their presence.


One such method is called a Beaver Deceiver. In summer 2023, BNRC hired experts to install a beaver deceiver in the brook adjacent to the Meadow Loop accessible trail. A beaver deceiver works to regulate the water level, lowering the water level enough to end the problem of beaver-related flooding while leaving the dam and pond in place.

BNRC staff monitored the beaver activity at Thomas & Palmer Brook closely to understand the changes and the impact on the existing infrastructure. The water level had begun to consistently flood over the accessible trail, which limited access. The beaver deceiver is a long-term management solution that will minimize the threat to the accessible trail and allow the beavers to continue thriving.

From the bridge, take a look at the brook—you may see them busy at their work, while our human visitors can enjoy the accessible trail by wheelchair or other means of locomotion. BNRC is always committed to protecting wildlife and nature and ensuring that humans can live and thrive alongside.

Historic Partnership in Stockbridge

Stockbridge-Munsee regaining access to 351 acres of homeland. 

Photo: Douglas Brown

Over two hundred years ago, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans was forced off their homeland, now known as the Berkshires and Hudson Valley, where they and their ancestors had lived for thousands of years. After many years and more forced removals, the Tribe relocated to a reservation in Wisconsin and refused to move any further.  They never lost their connection to the Berkshires, always returning to conduct official business or reconnect to their homelands. When they learned that Monument Mountain was in need of protection, the Tribe took action as it is a place of great ecological, historical, and cultural significance. Now the northern edge of Monument Mountain will once again be stewarded by the tribe. 

In August, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll announced the award of a $2.26 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program (MVP), which will support the Stockbridge-Munsee’s purchase of the property and implementation of a stewardship plan to ensure the land is protected as a nature-based solution for climate change resiliency.  

Stockbridge-Munsee President Shannon Holsey illuminated the perspective of her community, saying “We are creating a paradigm shift in how society invests in tribal nations by grounding an investment strategy in Indigenous systems thinking, recognizing the interconnectedness of all things and our responsibilities to our homelands and each other. Our approach ensures a resilient and regenerative framework from start to finish, built around the origins of our homeland.”  

Collaborative Effort: When BNRC learned that this land, known as Fenn Farm, was for sale, Beth Mills, BNRC’s Director of Land Conservation, convened a working group including the Trustees of Reservations, Stockbridge Land Trust, Laurel Hill Association, the Town of Stockbridge, MassWildlife, and Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council, Conservation, and Cultural Affairs Department, to explore conservation possibilities and facilitate discussion between the landowners, their agents, and the Federally Recognized Tribal Nation. When the Tribe made the decision to pursue ownership, including applying for the MVP grant, BNRC and these partners worked together to support them. 

“We often provide ‘assists’ for large conservation projects, but this is unlike anything BNRC has ever been involved in,” said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. “I could not be more delighted that, by convening the partners and providing legal and grant-writing support, we were able to assist in this historic and important return of the Tribe’s historic homeland.” 

The parcel is a combination of farm, forest, and a part of the Agawam swamp, on the north slope of Monument Mountain and surrounded by conserved land on all sides. For generations it has been owned and cared for by the Swann family, most recently by artist Clover Swann, who was a respected philanthropist who supported land conservation and protection. By all the measures of evaluating land parcels, Fenn Farm scores highly on our conservation criteria for land protection. 

Holsey told the Berkshire Eagle that the project is “the reclamation of our kinship systems, our governance systems, our ceremony and spiritually, our language, our culture, and our food and medicinal systems. Those are all based on our relationship to the land.” 

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community will work with BNRC and partners over the coming year to develop a stewardship plan to ensure the ongoing health of the ecosystem. 

“Land trusts across the country are grappling with the complicated history of conservation”, says Mills. “Land ownership itself is part of our colonialist past. People of color, and indigenous people here in the Berkshires, have been systematically and intentionally shut out from access to the land and the ability to maintain their cultural values associated with the land and the environment. For BNRC to be able to support the righting of this injustice is an honor.”

Your Fall Newsyletter

Dear reader,

I have so much good news to share that I’m going to dive right in.

First of all, THANK YOU!! to the very many of you who responded to the Spring Challenge Match fundraising drive. Together, we claimed all available matching challenge dollars with a couple of days to spare.

Everything I am writing about here, and everything BNRC does, depends on donors. So if you were part of the Challenge, or gave last fall, or have remembered BNRC in your estate plans, you can feel extra proud as you read this because you made it happen.


On to the news!

I don’t often write to you about two-acre conservation projects—most of the time we’re going for hundreds, to have maximum impact on the landscape. But in this case, two acres makes all the difference.

We’ve been working to conserve land on Tom Ball Mountain since 2018. So far, about 930 acres of gorgeous landscape and extremely special habitat is under protection.

Supporters of those projects have been wondering when trails will formally open. While there are already trails through this beautiful conservation land, we needed to find a spot for a parking area and trailhead. I’m pleased to share that, earlier this year, BNRC closed on a small parcel of land on Alford Road where we can put a modestly sized lot, and get folks out onto this gorgeous property.

There’s more work to be done—planning and building a trail system to be both beautiful and sustainable over the long term takes time. But now we can get started, and I expect my summer 2024 Newsyletter will announce the opening of BNRC’s reserve at Tom Ball.

Even after a trail opens, work continues. Recent visitors to Parsons Marsh this spring noticed a lot of digging and building and planting near the pond. The BNRC team—staff and volunteers—repaired the dam, removed invasives, and planted native plants along the edge (thank you to Helia Native Nursery and Ward’s Nursery & Garden Center for your assistance!)

By next spring, the new plantings will look amazing and be even more supportive to the wild creatures who live there. It’s not the first native planting project at Parsons Marsh. A few years back, the Lenox Garden Club created a native pollinator garden in the fields just up the path from the pond, and it’s thriving.

Wild Acres isn’t a BNRC reserve—it belongs to the City of Pittsfield and is an oasis for thousands of city residents. Last fall we learned that a 36-foot bridge there had deteriorated so much that it was unsafe to use. BNRC staffers Josh, Mariah, Charlotte, Tyler, and the amazing BNRC volunteer corps were thrilled to provide support to the City’s parks department to design, build, and install a new bridge on the existing steel structure.

I hope you’ll read the full story of the work at Wild Acres “Bridging the Gaps” at—it’s such a wonderful example of collaboration, service, and living our values as individuals and as an organization.


Beaver Deceivers: we’ve gotten a question or two about a Beaver Deceiver recently installed at Thomas & Palmer Brook. It’s an ingenious device that keeps the water level from rising without harming the animals or the wetlands fostered by the beaver dams.

The Deceivers are surprisingly simple and inexpensive: essentially a culvert with a drainpipe and a wire cage that prevents the beavers from clogging it. Beavers are drawn to the sound of running water and will dam up any noisy leak in a matter of hours, so what makes the Deceivers so successful is the pipe is completely underwater and thus silent. Their design insures the health and safety of the beavers—they may move to a new location temporarily, but are in no way harmed.

I recently had the chance to meet with Rebecca Tepper, Massachusetts’ new Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs—EEOA. That’s the agency that oversees several of BNRC’s most important partners: the Departments of Fish and Game (MassWildlife), Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Agricultural Resources (MDAR).

I was thrilled to hear Secretary Tepper describe the serious commitment the Healey Administration is making to advance land conservation, forest management, and farm preservation. Like BNRC, they see the urgency of stepping up the pace of protection.

As we endured the practically biblical weather events of the last few months—smoke, fire, floods, heat waves, and the devastating destruction to life and property—it became clearer than ever that every day, every action we take, counts.

Healthy watersheds mitigate flooding. Forests provide cooling and, as we so often say, remove carbon from the air.

BNRC, as always and all the more now, stands ready to work with our conservation colleagues and partners in the Berkshires and beyond to reach ambitious goals for climate resiliency.

BNRC donors make this possible. Can you donate this season, or become a monthly supporter? Your generosity will be put to smart, lasting use.


Every once in a while I like to give you hints about projects underway—conservation work that requires trust and privacy until the projects have closed.

For example:

. . . a South County parcel that was the last missing piece of a critically important conservation landscape. It is home to eight endangered species and some of the highest priority habitat in the region. The plan for this project is particularly unusual and very exciting, and I can’t wait to be able to share more about it.

. . . nearly 1,000 acres of prime forest and fields in North County owned by several separate families. One landowner approached us to explore putting a conservation restriction on his land, and then talked to each of his neighbors and encouraged them to do the same.

. . . a 178-acre parcel in Central County, next door to one of BNRC’s most beautiful reserves, that will protect a forested ridgeline, and will make a potential future High Road connection.

. . . speaking of The High Road, there are now five routes in various stages of development which, when completed, will add many miles of hiking trails across the County, connecting towns to each other and to nature reserves. Segments planned to the south (Great Barrington), central (Pittsfield) and north (North Adams) are the Berkshire High Road routes likely to proceed first. The dream BNRC first floated nearly ten years ago is moving closer to reality every day.

So many of us feel a deeply personal connection to nature—it’s where we feel like our truest selves, or where we find peace, or adventure.

My love of nature started with the birds in my urban Detroit backyard and was fostered during summers at sleepaway camp in the far northern woods in Michigan. (Campcraft was my favorite activity, and I can still start a great fire.)

When it’s personal—when you love and care for something—you fight for it.

And we all need to fight for nature, now.

What makes the fight personal for you? I’d love to hear from you.

Yours truly,

Jenny Hansell

P.S. Will you help me fight for our Berkshire forests, rivers, and farm fields? For farmers? For free access to the healing power of nature for everybody? Find the ways to donate that are right for you at BNRC is donor funded. Learn more about conserving land, volunteering, and how to explore the Berkshire outdoors for free at

Job Posting: Donor Relations Manager

August 2023

Donor Relations Manager.pdf

BNRC is looking for a Donor Relations Manager to succeed a retiring team member.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is a conservation organization in the westernmost region of Massachusetts. As a land trust, BNRC conserves land, protects wildlife and habitat, supports local farmers, builds climate resilience, and provides free access to the Berkshire outdoors for everybody, at over 50 locations across the region.

BNRC cares for ancestral homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, who were forcibly displaced from the region by European colonization.

Since 1967, BNRC has helped conserve more than 100,000 acres of forest, fields, wetlands, and farmlands; now holds over 23,000 acres of land and conservation restrictions; and manages over 60 miles of trails.

Are you:

  • Excited by the possibility of helping a prominent, growing, regional conservation organization maintain and expand its fundraising work with donors for the sake of open space, wildlife, farmers, climate, and free public access to the outdoors?
  • Prepared to take responsibility for the accuracy and integrity of BNRC’s constituent and donor relations database, according to best practices and nonprofit sector requirements?
  • Aware of community-centric and donor-centric fundraising principles?
  • Enthusiastic about the quality of relationships with members of the BNRC community and administratively contributing to the achievement of annual metric fundraising goals?
  • Interested in a starting salary of $45,000-$55,000/year, annual bonus program, 13 holidays, 29 PTO days (vacation/sick/personal), access to health and dental insurance and a 401k savings plan with the possibility of a 10% total annual contribution, other benefits, a great team of coworkers, and flexible hours?

If so, let’s talk.

Further details:

The Donor Relations Manager at Berkshire Natural Resources Council holds primary responsibility for managing BNRC’s donor management systems, data, and donor stewardship programs.

They support donor identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship efforts executed by BNRC’s fundraising officers, president, board and committee members, volunteer fundraisers, and similar.

The Donor Relations Manager ensures that fundamental donor and gift receipt practices are sound, responsive, audit-ready, donor-centric, and community-centric.

Responsibilities include:

  • Accurate, consistent management of BNRC’s fundraising database, including data entry and running reports
  • Recording of financial and in-kind gifts according to industry standards and best practices
  • Production of gift acknowledgments, including custom communications
  • Participation in the production and coordination of constituent outreach materials—especially those related to donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship
  • Preparation of reports for analysis, and queries for segmented outreach
  • Providing support for special BNRC events, board meetings, and online store
  • Some reception and office management duties
  • Proofreading correspondence, newsletters, and other publications

Key personal interactions include:

  • Development team: director, assistant director, and grants specialist
  • President’s office: president, special assistant to the president
  • Community Conservation team: particularly with regard to volunteer data
  • Finance and Administration: director, bookkeeper
  • Board of Directors: development committee, members
  • Donors and supporters: Respond quickly, helpfully, and sympathetically to donor questions, needs, and complaints, using judgment to refer such queries to the appropriate BNRC department when appropriate, with the goal of ensuring donors know they are loved and appreciated by BNRC staff. Also, donor stewardship fulfillment of perks and benefits.
  • Public: Greet visitors, emailers, phone callers, with good cheer and helpfulness
  • Vendors: Occasionally work with designers, printers, and others

Skills needed:

  • Database management
  • Excellent verbal and written communications including extraordinary proofreading skills
  • Microsoft Office Suite proficiency—particularly, but not exclusively, Excel and Word

Qualities sought:

  • Maturity, poise, patience, humor
  • Fastidious attention to detail
  • A planner who is also able to improvise
  • Comfort with change

Preferred but not required:

  • Experience with fundraising databases such as Bloomerang, Little Green Light, Raiser’s Edge, Salesforce, or similar
  • Experience with online fundraising platforms and tools such as Classy, Donorbox, FreeWill, The Giving Block, Stripe
  • Experience with process automation apps such as Ablebits, Zapier, or similar

BNRC staff value open, candid, and respectful communication and favor teamwork. The ideal candidate will be a motivated individual with a passion for the mission of Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

To apply:

Email your resume and cover letter to with “Donor Relations Manager” in the subject line. No phone calls please. Resumes will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

BNRC is an equal opportunity employer

BNRC does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification and expression, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, genetic information, veteran status, being a member of the Reserves or National Guard, status as disabled or Vietnam Era veteran or status in any group protected against discrimination by federal, state, or local law.

We welcome applications from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, women, and veterans. BNRC is actively engaged in ensuring its properties are welcoming to all, and in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of its work.

Though the job described above will begin entirely or almost entirely in English, BNRC welcomes interest from bilingual candidates who can support the organization in being more inclusive in its work.

Rarely will a candidate fulfill every aspect of a job description in their experience and qualifications. If you believe that you can bring talent and passion to this role at BNRC while needing to learn a few new skills, please feel encouraged to apply.



309 Pittsfield Road, Suite B

Lenox MA 01240


Bridging the Gaps  

By Susan LeBourdais
June 29, 2023

Decrepit bridge, Wild Acres, Fall 2022. 

When we think of a bridge, many images come to mind. Most practically, bridges enable us to get from one side to another, crossing a stream, a river, or a gorge. They connect people. They facilitate access. They open new opportunities.   

As a volunteer for Berkshire Natural Resources Council and a Pittsfield resident, the chance to work on a new bridge for the City of Pittsfield’s Wild Acres Park was rewarding for many reasons. Practically speaking, there was a real need, identified by BNRC, via past partnering with the City on self-guided and guided events at Wild Acres. The former 36’ span at the end of the pond had deteriorated to such an extent as to make it unsafe and most definitely unusable.  

Mariah Fogg, BNRC’s Community Conservation Manager, approached Jim McGrath, Pittsfield’s Parks and Open Space Manager, and determined that, while the City had funding for materials, it needed a partner to design, build, and install the bridge, as well as to dismantle the old structure. BNRC was only too glad to help, as partnerships with Pittsfield and the many towns, organizations, and state agencies with which BNRC works to protect our open lands are meaningful and important.  

The project began with an assessment in September 2022. Josh Hopmans, BNRC’s Property Manager, supported the bridge’s design and construction and on-site planning with the City. Deconstruction began in November, and it was determined that the existing steel beams were sound and could be used to support the new bridge


Construction began in BNRC’s workshop in March 2023, where locally sourced black locust—a dense wood known for its ability to withstand the element—as fashioned into seven 200-lb. structural supports for the bridge platform and railings. A team of five volunteers (David Dutra, Tim O’Brien, Wendy Stebbins, Bob Johnson, and myself), led by Josh, learned just how dense black locust is, as they used drills, leverage, and 6” screws to assemble the supports. “Measure twice and drill once” were the watchwords of that session! 

Mindful of the desire of the City to replace the bridge in time for the annual Fishing Derby in mid-May, volunteers had two more workdays, these at Wild Acres. The first, on April 10, was overseen by Tyler Fogg, BNRC’s Trails Manager, who is also certified in using a Griphoist and rigging equipment. Cables were affixed around large trees on both sides of the pond’s spillover to enable the safe placement of the bridge supports onto the steel beams. Using straps and hooks, each support was oh-so-carefully lifted from the truck bed and guided to its resting place before being secured onto the beams.

The second workday, on May 1, involved installing precut locust planking for the bridge’s walkway as well as the bridge’s railings and top pieces. Josh made it so easy for volunteers by being extremely organized with the plan, the materials, and the leadership to enable the final assembly. He also exhibited a great amount of trust in the ability of volunteers to help with this project! The BNRC team on site included Volunteer and Outreach Assistant Charlotte Hood, who was instrumental in facilitating communications with the volunteers, as well as inspiring confidence along the way. 


As a volunteer, it was easy to see the ways this project lived up to BNRC’s core values. It strengthened connections between people—the volunteers, the staff, and the City of Pittsfield and visitors to Wild Acres. It facilitated access to open spaces—a very strong commitment of BNRC to the communities it serves. And it opened new opportunities—for volunteers to give back, and for those who might be new to the outdoors to experience the wonder of nature.   

200% Berkshire, Challenge Match Campaign

When I’m in the woods, or driving along the little roads of the region, or at the BNRC office looking at Yokun Ridge, I think about how unique and special life is in the Berkshires.

The outdoors are nearly everywhere, inviting us to live in well-worn boots, to go down to the river on hot days, to enjoy the Milky Way at night.

And everywhere you look there is criminally delicious food, grown and raised by farmers we run into at the post office, or the dump, or the Southfield Store.

You did that. It’s the biggest part of why I choose to live here. It’s why I hope you’ll be part of BNRC this season as a donor.



Why did YOU choose the Berkshires?

Is it the kisses of cool air atop the BNRC Hoosac Range trail in North Adams?

Is it because you smile to yourself as you walk your dog at Gould Meadows in Stockbridge—thinking about the memories you made at a Tanglewood concert on the other side of the road? (It’s a little-known fact that BNRC helped conserve Gould Meadows, back when the organization primarily assisted other entities, like towns, to protect land.)

Is it because you look forward to picking up your CSA share—perhaps at a farm BNRC has helped protect, like Square Roots in Lanesborough—then delighting in the rich flavor and special moments that come from putting local food on your Berkshire kitchen table?

Or maybe it’s because you saw a bobcat sneak across your backyard. To spot the elusive bobcat! Or because of the fireflies that come out in July.

Perhaps you chose the Berkshires because of its sprawling forest canopy and fresh running waters that provide a climate resilience that keeps life here comfortable—and also affects environmental health from the Hudson River to the Green Mountains.

If you have donated to BNRC in the past, you have done all of this. And you’ve done it well.

ACTUALLY, that’s the problem!!!

The problem is that because you’ve been so amazing at protecting the Berkshire outdoors, TWICE as much effort is required than before… TWICE as many resources.

Because now—locally, and statewide—MORE is expected of BNRC than ever before.

So this spring, a few generous souls have pledged to MATCH your contributions to BNRC, 1-to-1, up to $100,000 total.

Because together we’ve got TWICE the work to do (at least). So, here’s a chance to make your donation go twice as far as it has in the past.

Will you join me in going 200% for the Berkshires this spring?


You’ll make a lasting difference: for the natural beauty of the Berkshires, for wildlife, for climate resilience in these hills as coastal waters rise and the planet heats up.

But you’ll also make countless individual lives better, too.

Letters that come into the BNRC office regularly tell us this is true—written by people wondering who to thank. Really, their thanks are for you.

Some of these letters are from people grateful for accessible or mostly flat, easy trails you’ve created in Lenox, Hinsdale, and Great Barrington. Letters from people who don’t know how else they would get outside, how they thought their days of being in nature were over—because they are older, or because their kids use strollers, or they are recovering from an injury, or something else.

And these are just a few of the dozens of BNRC trails donors help care for.

People send thanks for how helpful it is that all of the FREE trail maps, at trailhead kiosks and on the BNRC website, are available—in both English and Spanish. And how much that means for public health across all the Berkshire communities.

With every conservation win that you’ve made possible comes a perpetual legal obligation to monitor and manage those lands for conservation characteristics.

The MORE you conserve, the MORE there is to care for—over 200 properties now.

So, if you are able, please consider giving generously. Giving more. Let’s MAXIMIZE those matching funds.


BNRC donors have long helped local farms, especially by way of BNRC assisting farmers in their applications for agricultural preservation restrictions with the state.

Still OTHER farmers call BNRC because they want to farm, but they can’t afford land—especially land with housing for farming families.

That Berkshire growers are looking to BNRC for help is because of what BNRC donors have made possible. People are so good at it… being BNRC donors… that the work is ours to own and continue together.

The Berkshires—and our neighbors—are counting on us. We are the ones who have chosen this place.

And those fireflies in the backyard? That long-sunset connection to being a kid? That quiet nirvana of the Berkshire summer that you wish you could hold?

Those lightning bugs are here because of a healthy mix of forest, water, fields, and temperate summers. That’s what they need. That’s what you do via BNRC.

For all these reasons… the lands still to conserve (according to the science)… for the lands we have already made commitments to together… for the wildlife, the farmers and food, the four seasons… for the extraordinary mix of the outdoors and the arts that we enjoy…

Please donate generously to this 200% BERKSHIRE fundraising drive.


And if you need any other assurances, here’s one more bit of BIG news:

BNRC was recently accredited by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Only about 10% of Massachusetts land trusts are accredited, and only about one-third nationally.

This signifies the Commission’s confidence that lands protected and cared for by BNRC will be protected and cared for in perpetuity. That BNRC has “strong standards, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

So what do you say?

Would you make a bold and loving donation to the Berkshire outdoors? A donation that will be matched?

The bobcats, trout, farmers, trees, climate, kids, codgers, dogs, and so many others will be better for it. They’ll be grateful. They won’t know who to thank. But that’s okay.

You’ll know.

And in July, the fireflies will offer a midsummer dance and lightshow, in appreciation for the part of yourself that you have generously given to these hills.


Rich Montone
Director of Development

P.S. You can quickly find your best way of going 200% Berkshire at

To help realize all the matching dollars available, you can give cash, stocks, from your IRA, donor advised fund, crypto, and more.

And check out to create a personal BNRC fundraiser of your own to share with friends!

Berkshire Natural Resources Council Earns National Recognition

I’m writing with news I’m so excited and proud to share with you. You may have noticed a new seal on recent BNRC communications, or on the website, showing that BNRC is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

What does that mean?

Accreditation demonstrates BNRC’s extraordinary commitment to excellence and trustworthiness, a dedication to sound finances, ethical conduct, and responsible governance.

And most importantly, it shows the Commission’s confidence that lands conserved by BNRC throughout the Berkshires will be protected forever.

It’s important to note that dedication to land conservation is also:

  • dedication to the wildlife that roam, make their homes, and raise their families throughout local wildlife corridors;
  • dedication to improving climate resilience in the region;
  • dedication to farmers who bet their lives on Berkshire farms and who provide food for our community;
  • and dedication to ensuring that everybody has access to green spaces, for free, forever.

You might be thinking, “BNRC was already doing these things.”

And you’d be right.

But accreditation is not just about BNRC, and not just about the Berkshires. It’s also about the bigger picture.

The United States currently has over 450 accredited land trusts, representing over 20 million acres of stewarded land.

That’s the equivalent of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined!

I know that each of these land trusts went through the same rigorous program that BNRC went through to receive accreditation status.

They have also each demonstrated a commitment to permanent land conservation, professional excellence, and maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

When I think about this growing group of devoted land trusts and the incredible conservation work that we are accomplishing across the country, I feel hopeful.

Together, we—BNRC donors, volunteers, board, staff, and community partners—ensure a better and greener space for ourselves and the next generations. And we join this community of resilient organizations, equipped to meet challenges and continue these important efforts in the long-term.

BNRC’s accreditation would not be possible without committed donors, dedicated volunteers, community partners, and a hard-working staff and board.

Thank you for all that you do! Congratulations on your national accreditation!

All the best,

Jenny Hansell


Your Spring Newsyletter

Your Spring Newsyletter

The other day, a pair of foxes ran through the back yard at BNRC HQ.

The staff meeting stopped short, and we all leapt out of our seats to watch these beautiful creatures sniff and explore, their tails impossibly fluffy, their coats dark and full.

It was a wonderful sight.

I hope we never lose our sense of wonder. Days at the BNRC office may be filled with appraisals and legal contracts, policies and planning. But we never forget why we’re here.

Still, sometimes it’s really fun, and really interesting, to get down into the weeds. The WHY is always the most important thing. But the HOW can be pretty fascinating.

Right now, BNRC staff conservation experts are building a geospatial model. I want to explain to you how incredibly cool it is.

A geospatial model is a high-tech mapping system, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We’ve used GIS for decades—it’s how we create the maps that show the various features of the parcels or landscapes we’re protecting and stewarding. But now we’re taking it to the next level.

BNRC can do this because of donors—folks like you—who make all things BNRC possible.


Many organizations—the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Nature Conservancy, and dozens of others—have gathered highly detailed data that can be added to a basic parcel map in layers.

GIS data not only enables us to view satellite imagery—similar to Google maps—but also provides more detailed data to inform us about conservation values like forest habitat types, stream and wetland locations, and important farmland soils.

As we get deeper into developing the BNRC strategic conservation plan, this model will enable us to ask complicated questions, and get answers that will help guide donor-funded conservation efforts.

Questions like:

  • What parcels or landscapes are most important to protect, to mitigate the impact of increasingly powerful storms?
  • How many parcels can be conserved within walking distance of urban areas?
  • Where are the most highly endangered and sensitive plant and animal species? What are the greatest threats to them?
  • Which landscapes are doing the most to sequester carbon and how can we best manage them to promote climate resilience?
  • As part of a much larger landscape that stretches from the Appalachians to Maine, what’s most important to know about where our efforts fit in?

And many others.

Not all the data we might like to analyze exists yet—data on farmland is limited.

That’s where BNRC staff and BNRC donors work in tandem . . .


Together, we can contribute to new layers through BNRC’s own work and research—research done by the only land trust that works across all of the Berkshires, and only the Berkshires.

All this work will be open source. So we are participating in a giant community of researchers and conservationists to use science, data, and technology for good (yes, that’s still a thing).

Having this data will help in one of the more common conversations we have, with people who are understandably worried that we’re going to conserve “too much” land and leave too little on the tax rolls, or available for economic development.

This geospatial tool helps target and focus, so we know which land is most important. That leads to a deeper understanding of which land is best left available for housing and other community needs.

By the way, about those foxes I saw:

A day or two after they ran through our yard, a wildlife rehabilitator I follow on Facebook posted a fascinating article about foxes. Right now, it’s denning season—between the end of March and early April, a mother fox will give birth to 4-5 kits.

They often choose den sites close to people, away from predators like coyotes. So, you might see foxes under your porch, shed, or garage.

The kits won’t leave the den at all until they’re about a month old, and by the end of the summer they’ll leave the den for good.

If you see the parents around, they’re probably hunting to feed the babies. No need to move or relocate them—they won’t harm your pets. Just enjoy them from afar and appreciate the wonders of nature!

One more thing:

I try to get up from my desk and get myself out talking to people about BNRC as often as I can—to listen to people’s ideas and concerns about the Berkshires, the land, and the work that we all do together through BNRC. (I welcome your questions and comments, always!)

Recently, I have heard a few questions over and over again, and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if a few people are asking the same question, a lot of people are thinking it.

Some people have asked me if all BNRC cares about these days is trail building, recreation and access. Has BNRC given up on land conservation?

Others have wondered whether we’re still working on The High Road, or if BNRC is just trying to conserve as many acres as it can.

(In other words, some have the exact opposite perception of what’s going on with BNRC!)

Still others question why BNRC works so hard to promote access to its trails, when they’re already free.

The answer to the first two questions is that both conservation and trails continue to be BNRC’s highest priorities. With help from that geospatial model I described, we’ll be able to strategically pinpoint the most important lands to conserve, and speed up efforts.

It will also help guide where trails should go, and where they should not. A tremendous amount of trail planning is underway right now, much of it focused on the next 5-10 years of The High Road. I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you over the next few months.

As those plans develop, and before creating any new trail networks, we’ll be able to review the model for sensitive habitats. In fact, trails are key to helping keep humans away from sensitive habitat.

And what about the third question, “Why do we need to promote access?

Have you ever heard the phrase “If you know, you know”? A corollary is that “If you know, you might not realize that some people don’t know.” It is important to BNRC that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, so we want to make sure everyone knows that these trails and lands are here for them, for free.

BNRC donors and volunteers make this possible.


BNRC staff engaged in conversations with partner organizations (like Latinas413, Unpaved Trails for All, Berkshire Family Hikes, the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Berkshire Language Management, DEI Outdoors, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation) to understand the needs for sharing information on how to get outside easily and safely.

With these partners and others, and with the help of donors, BNRC created two print and digital resources: “Everybody Can Hike / ¡Todos Pueden realizar Una Caminata!,” and “Berkshire County Trails for All / Condado De Berkshire Senderos Para Todos.” Check out the English language versions using the codes at the bottom of this letter!

Because of its partners, community members, and you, BNRC makes progress every day on conserving the Berkshire outdoors, protecting wildlife, supporting local farmers, and enhancing climate resilience in our landscape.

BNRC is donor funded, so please consider a donation to make all of the above happen, and more.

And if you’ve got questions or ideas, let’s connect! (Or just send photos of the wildlife you’re seeing in your backyard or around the Berkshires.)


Yours truly,

Jenny Hansell

P.S.  Want to see more of the land, wildlife, farms, and outdoor access that BNRC donors protect every day? Check out Everyone Can Hike and Berkshire County Trails for All using the QR codes below. BNRC donors make all this possible. You can be a part of the BNRC donor team at There are many ways to give. Please look for the one that’s perfect for you!

Job Posting: Land Steward

Berkshire Natural Resources Council
March 2023


Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is a nonprofit conservation organization in western Massachusetts that cares for the ancestral homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, who were forcibly displaced from the region by European colonization. As a land trust, BNRC conserves land, protects wildlife and habitat, preserves local farms, and provides free access to the Berkshire outdoors for everyone, at over 55 nature reserves across the region. Since 1967, BNRC has helped conserve more than 100,000 acres of forest, fields, wetlands, and farmlands, and now holds over 23,000 acres of land and conservation restrictions and manages over 60 miles of trails.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (El Consejo de Recursos Naturales de Berkshire) es una organización sin ánimo de lucro que conserva el terreno, protege la vida silvestre y el hábitat, preserva las granjas locales y contribuye a mantener los exteriores de Berkshire libres y accesibles para todos. El BNRC está contratando personal. Aunque el trabajo que se describe a continuación se inicia completamente o casi completamente en inglés, el BNRC agradece el interés de los candidatos bilingües que puedan ayudar a la organización a ser más inclusiva en su trabajo.


BNRC is seeking a full-time Land Steward to join its Stewardship team. This position will assist with the management of BNRC’s fee-owned reserves with improved public access, and support all other aspects of the stewardship department. The Land Steward will serve as a crew leader for a seasonal crew during the summer months. This position will report to the Property Manager, and will work closely with all members of the stewardship team.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • General property maintenance and land management including:
    • Grass trail and field mowing
    • Clearing trails of fallen trees
    • Installation of signs, kiosks, etc.
    • Identifying issues on trails and recording them online
    • Other trail maintenance tasks
  • Serves as crew leader for seasonal crew
    • Monitors BNRC’s fee-owned properties for misuse
    • Boundary marking and maintenance
    • Makes sure crew has tools and equipment they need
    • Maintains a high standard of quality
    • Provides motivation and support to crew members
  • Assists Trail Crew with trail construction as needed.
  • Assists with volunteer workdays and public outreach events as needed.
  • Workshop, tool, and equipment maintenance.


The successful candidate may not have all these qualifications so if you have some, and/or
demonstrably related experience, please go ahead and apply.

  • Ability and willingness to obtain chainsaw certification (BNRC will provide training)
  • Ability to work alone in natural areas, on and off trail.
  • Comfortable hiking long distances with heavy loads;
  • Experience operating or willingness to learn to operate power equipment like chainsaw, brush saw, walk-behind mowers, tractor and other power tools;
  • Willingness to work outside year-round, in all weather conditions;
  • Ability to work collegially and effectively with colleagues, landowners, contractors, and volunteers;
  • A valid driver’s license and ability to travel extensively throughout Berkshire County.

BNRC is an equal opportunity employer.

BNRC does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification and expression, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, genetic information, veteran status, being a member of the Reserves or National Guard, status as disabled or Vietnam Era veteran or status in any group protected against discrimination by federal, state, or local law.

We welcome applications from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, women, and veterans. BNRC is actively engaged in ensuring its properties are welcoming to all, and in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of its work.

Though the job described above will begin entirely or almost entirely in English, BNRC welcomes interest from bilingual candidates who can support the organization in being more inclusive in its work.

Compensation: $18.25 – $20.50 Depending on experience.

Benefits Include:

  • Medical and dental coverage
  • 24 days PTO (vacation/sick/personal) and 13 paid holidays
  • Flexible hours and hybrid remote/office work
  • 401(k) and employer match
  • Travel reimbursement
  • A great team of coworkers in a welcoming office setting in Lenox, Massachusetts

Start date: Position available now; resumes will be reviewed on a rolling basis, starting on March 13th, until the position is filled.

To apply: Email your resume and cover letter to with “Land Steward” in the
subject line.

Please note: this position requires up-to-date Covid vaccination.

Naturalista sin Complicaciones: Señales de la Primavera (caminata autoguiada) en Parsons Marsh, Lenox

El sábado 1 de abril hasta el domingo 30 de abril

Explore las hermosas vistas y sonidos de Parsons Marsh en la plenitud de la primavera en esta caminata autoguiada para toda la familia. Las señales le guiarán a lo largo del sendero accesible de 1/3 de milla, que serpentea a través de praderas y humedales, incitándole a observar su entorno desde la perspectiva de un naturalista. Aprenderá sobre las delicadas flores silvestres, los fascinantes polinizadores, los vibrantes anfibios y los cantos de los musicales pájaros que hacen de esta época del año algo muy especial.



170 Under Mountain Road

Desde Lenox: del centro de Lenox, diríjase al sur por Main St. Gire a la derecha en la primera calle transversal hacia MA-183 S/West St y continúe durante 1,4 millas. Gire a la derecha en Under Mountain Rd. El inicio del sendero estará a 0,9 millas por la carretera a la derecha