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Generous Landowners Protect Habitat for Climate Resilience

Posted Friday, April 7, 2023

Multi-parcel project links 14,000 acres of conserved land in Monterey and Tyringham.

Thanks to several generous and conservationminded landowners—and with partners that include BNRC donors, the Monterey Preservation Land Trust, and the Massachusetts Departments of Conservation & Recreation, Fish & Game, and Conservation Services—BNRC recently led an effort that has preserved woodlands, wildlands, open space, and water resources in Monterey and Tyringham.

The project places a string of parcels totaling over 750 acres into conservation. This includes large swaths of Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape, according to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species program. The Nature Conservancy has also identified these lands as having above average climate adaptation characteristics.

These newly conserved parcels connect a total of 14,000 acres of preserved lands—a land area comparable in size to the island of Manhattan. This expanse includes BNRC’s Steadman Pond and Bob’s Way reserves, the Mount Hunger reserve, and Beartown State Forest.

Over a mile of buildable frontage along Brace Road is included in the project, which will now remain unfragmented and undisturbed for wildlife. These lands are significant for both local indigenous and Shaker histories as well.

Fairview Hospital, of Berkshire Health Systems, was one of the other landowners involved in the deal. Anthony Rinaldi Jr., Executive Vice President at Fairview Hosptial, said “Preserving this open space is a gift of health and wellness to the southern Berkshires. Alice Hanlon gave this land to Fairview, and with BNRC’s help the land she loved will remain open, offering outdoor recreation and protection for the well-being of the many species that depend on this natural habitat.”

The permanent conservation of these lands was possible thanks to $3.27 million in funding provided by the Nion Robert Thieriot Foundation, Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, Bafflin Foundation, Feigenbaum Foundation, individual and anonymous donors, the Department of Conservation Services Landscape Partnership Grant, and bargain sales by landowners.

Peter Bray and Bridget Reel donated to the effort in memory of Bridget’s father, Grenville “Bucky” Rogers. The project “conserves an unspoiled part of the Berkshires landscape that has a special importance to us since we stayed in Tyringham on our first visit to the Berkshires in 1983,” wrote Peter. “We immediately fell in love with the Berkshires’ rolling hills, historic towns and cultural offerings. It has become our favorite place on earth.”

“When my children were young, we hiked Mt. Hunger regularly in all four seasons,” adds Jon Sylbert, longtime president of the Monterey Preservation Land Trust (MPLT). “Exploring the Ledges was particularly exciting because they could crawl inside—through the interior shelves— and return to daylight from a gap further along.” MPLT’s addition of the Mount Hunger reserve to this corridor is key to realizing the connectivity potential that made this opportunity so special.

“Projects like this illustrate the best of what the BNRC community can do together,” said Jenny Hansell, BNRC president. “Generous, conservationminded landowners, donors, partner organizations, state agencies, helpful attorneys, great staff, and thoughtful volunteers work together to make something like this happen.”