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A Vision to Protect Wildlife: Land Donation Expands the Old Mill Reserve

Posted Monday, March 1, 2021

Richard Clapper’s life has changed in many ways since he purchased a home and wooded land on East Street in Dalton in the late 90s.

On one of his walks in these woods, Richard met Peg White, a neighbor at the other end of the street. Later, after many walks together, they married. Richard took up beekeeping, and retired from his job with Pepperidge Farm. He envisioned conserving the land, even after he and Peg found a quieter spot in the woods of nearby Peru, writing this wish into his will.

This land is special to Richard, not just because he met his wife there, but also for the wildlife he regularly observed: bear, bobcat, deer, moose, and fishers. He wasn’t sure how to go about protecting it until he attended an estate planning workshop focused on conservation, sponsored by the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). There he learned about BNRC’s work with landowners to conserve their properties.

"After living most of my adult life in Pittsfield, moving to Dalton gave me the chance to live near the woods and nature I so loved. I soon came to realize what a gem this land is by offering a wildlife habitat and corridor. I am so pleased it is going to be preserved and shared." —Richard Clapper

Richard has generously donated this property to BNRC out of his own desire to protect the land, and with financial support from the Massachusetts Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program. CLTC has provided a financial bridge for landowners donating land to conservation organizations in Massachusetts. While relatively small, the property joins the adjacent Old Mill Reserve, opening access to it from the west.

BNRC partnered with Crane & Company, MassWildlife, the Town of Hinsdale, and the Housatonic Valley Association to conserve the Old Mill Trail reserve along the East Branch of the Housatonic River, and open it for public access. The MassTrails program is funding a portion of upcoming work to improve parking at the accessible portion of the trail (located along the first .7 miles, with a trailhead located off Old Dalton Road in Hinsdale).