Right now, BNRC donors are helping put together one of the largest land protection projects in BNRC history—one that will result in over 14,000 acres of contiguous conservation land.
I’ll get to that in a minute. First it’s important to remember how these projects come to be.
When you walk a BNRC property, when you pick berries, spot birds, and pause to enjoy the rushing waters or the soft breezes, take a moment to remember that every one of these places was once cared for by a family who had a choice to make.
When the land’s future was up for grabs, they made a choice that benefits all of us. And you make it possible for families to make conservation-minded decisions that shape the Berkshires forever.
As this very busy summer winds down, it’s my pleasure to report to you on what you make possible when you donate to BNRC in 2022.
But first, this note about the past… and the future.
When I arrived at BNRC, we’d just celebrated its 50th anniversary with a big party. This year, BNRC is 55 and there’s no party. Instead, there’s… planning.
Yes, planning. If you’ve read some of my letters to you in the last few years, you’ll know I’m kind of a planning nerd. Along with BNRC’s (incredible) staff and (amazing) board, and you, we’re looking out 5, 10, 20 years and asking:
What does the Berkshires need that only BNRC can accomplish? (And by “BNRC” I mean all of us—staff, board, volunteers, donors, hikers…)
- What lands are most endangered?
- How can we build climate resilience?
- Who doesn’t have access to nature?
About that last question: a few weeks ago, a team of Roots Rising Farm Crew teens took a walk at the Old Mill Trail in Hinsdale, with BNRC’s Director of Public Programs, Mackenzie Greer. She’s also a Roots Rising board member and is passionate about its mission to empower teens through farming, food, and meaningful work.
She shared with me that the teens were particularly excited that the Old Mill is accessible—they really connected to the importance of making it easy for people to experience nature.
The Old Mill, and Parsons Marsh, and the Hoosac Range, and over 50 other properties that you’ve helped protect, make it possible for teenagers to connect to nature. For people with physical challenges to get outside. For toddlers to discover their first salamander.
You help people experience the transformative power of nature.
So, about those 14,000 acres.
You are leveraging enormous investment in nature.
Right now, you’re helping BNRC with one of the largest projects it has ever done—connecting over 14,000 acres in Monterey and Tyringham. It includes 836 acres of new conservation land (about the size of NYC’s Central Park).
Over $800,000 in donations from BNRC supporters will leverage nearly $2.4 million in grants and in-kind donations from state agencies and foundations.
The result: connecting, and adding to, large swaths of already-conserved land to create a habitat corridor for black bear, moose, and bobcat. Opening new opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, fishing, mountain-biking, and swimming. Building the climate resilience of the Berkshires.
This happens when we build partnerships:
- with families, who trust BNRC to look out for their interests and care for their land;
- with other conservation organizations, who work together on projects;
- and with state agencies, who know they can rely on BNRC to complete large and complex projects with integrity.
Huge as it is, this is only one of the projects in progress right now.
New land and farm conservation is going on in West Stockbridge, Richmond, Lenox, Great Barrington, Lanesborough, Williamstown, Sandisfield, and New Marlborough.
And trail and habitat improvements are underway in Great Barrington, Lee, North Adams, Dalton, and Pittsfield.
In other words, ALL OVER THE BERKSHIRES.
Thanks to you.
You’ll see some new faces in the field… and in the office.
The NEW office, I mean—BNRC recently moved to sunny, spacious new digs in Lenox. In the Landkeepers Report, you met the summer crew—those hardworking folk who are doing the backbreaking work of moving rocks, heaving logs, and creating those effortless-looking foot paths.
You may have also run into Charlotte Hood out on the trail. BNRC’s new Volunteer and Outreach Assistant, this NYC native always found herself drawn to the natural world, whether it be the pigeon outside the window or the classroom bunny.
She quickly found herself at home amongst the trees while attending Skidmore College in upstate New York. With a degree in Environmental Studies and a background in environmental education, Charlotte loves sharing her love for nature with you.
I’m also really excited to welcome Deanna Smith, High Road Manager. Deanna owned her own trail-planning and building company, constructing trails across the country and the Berkshires. She is committed to sustainable and equitable access to nature. Deanna is hard at work fleshing out the plan for the next High Road legs throughout the county. I know she is really looking forward to sharing them with you.
And a few key people behind the scenes, too: Ashley Winseck joins us as the Special Assistant to the President. That lofty-sounding title doesn’t come close to describing the wizardry she is bringing to every aspect of the organization. She does everything from figuring out the best project management software to keeping track of all the board committees, all the while keeping me and BNRC’s meetings organized.
And Kathleen Mosher is BNRC’s new Assistant Director of Development. You will be hearing a lot from her—she’s organizing all kinds of get-togethers to help you stay in the know and connected to the work going on to care for and protect your Berkshires.
One final summertime thought:
Everything we do depends on dozens, if not hundreds of friends.
That’s one reason we are determined to pursue ideas and initiatives that benefit the whole community… to foster a belief that land can be shared, with plants and animals as well as with each other.
Your friendship and financial support is indispensable to successful projects like these… it’s essential to building a stronger community.
Thank you for caring for this land we all share.