January 14, 2019
Beautiful unspoiled mountain views, open fields, and a large stretch of the Green River are now conserved through a partnership of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Together with landowners Deborah Menaker Rothschild and David Rothschild, the conservation organizations protected the legacy of the Oleson and Brookman families which cared for the land on Old Mill Road since the 1920s.
While the land is not yet open to the public, in the future WRLF envisions a walking trail to and along the Green River. WRLF owns the fee interest in the land while BNRC holds a Conservation Restriction over it, ensuring there will be no further development on the land. A building lot remains along Old Mill Road in the ownership of the Rothschilds.
This tract is designated a “Distinctive” landscape in the state’s Scenic Landscape Inventory, its highest ranking. The property contains over two thousand feet of frontage along the west branch of the Green River, a water body designated by the MassWildlife as a Coldwater Fisheries Resource – an important and sensitive wildlife habitat. The property also holds prime agricultural soils and prime forest, resources that can’t be replicated once gone. These natural resource values of the land are priorities for protection by WRLF and BNRC.
Projects like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through its Conservation Tax Credit Program which offers a helpful incentive for landowners who want to conserve their land, and support from the Town of Williamstown, which endorsed the conservation restriction over the land.
“We are so pleased to partner with BNRC to conserve this beautiful property,” said Phil McKnight, President of the WRLF. “This property contains excellent wildlife habitat, extensive stream frontage, and a potential link for proposed long distance trails. The Rothschilds’ generosity was instrumental in making this project happen.”
“Once land like this is gone, it’s gone forever,” said Jenny Hansell, President of the BNRC. “The Rothschilds understood the importance of protecting this beautiful parcel in perpetuity, and WRLF was a crucial partner in bring this project to fruition, so that generations to come can enjoy these lovely woodlands and open views.”
Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is a non-profit, member-supported land conservation trust founded in 1986 and dedicated to preserving the rural New England character of Williamstown and the surrounding area.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council is a non-profit land conservation organization founded in 1967. The Council currently protects over 12,000 acres with conservation restrictions and owns over 10,500 acres outright, with nearly sixty miles of trails open to the public.