Main content

What will you make possible?

Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Dear friend,

Jean was the first to find out the property was going on the market.

A third-generation farmer in Stockbridge, Jean’s parents conserved their own farmland more than a decade ago. Now, a 350-acre parcel next door was about to be sold.

Surrounded by already-protected land, Fenn Farm was a perfect opportunity for conservation, for all kinds of reasons:

  • The connectivity—providing unimpeded passage for wildlife is an important way to help protect nature.
  • The presence of rare and endangered plants.
  • The beauty, beloved by local residents and visitors alike.
  • And, its abiding importance to the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.

This is exactly the kind of project BNRC looks for: the opportunity to bring together and support partners, and leverage dollars, to benefit humans, wildlife, and natural systems.

All of this mattered to Jean, too—a staunch defender of nature and the environment. She reached out to BNRC and its partner, the Stockbridge Land Trust, to see if we could assist with a conservation and funding strategy to protect this incredibly important piece of land.

This is where you come in.


In situations like these, you make it possible for BNRC staff to jump in quickly, before any plan has been finalized, to begin work to protect/save the property.

Thanks to donors, BNRC was able to negotiate with the seller, ensuring time for all the partners to line up funding, and for the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation to consider what role they wanted to play in the future of the land.

Eventually, you assisted the Tribe in securing over $2 million from the state to support their purchase of Fenn Farm, protecting it forever. Thank you.

In this situation, Jean was a critical connecter—she introduced BNRC to the landowners and the family. Jean made sure BNRC was in touch with leaders in Stockbridge and among the Tribe to make sure its work aligned with the goals and values of the community.

(I should mention here that Jean is not her real name. She doesn’t want to take any credit for how the project unfolded—the focus should be on the thrilling outcome. And yet her role was incredibly important.)

Your role is important too.

Will you make sure BNRC can jump on the next critical opportunity with a donation today?


Projects like Fenn Farm protect nature and help make the Berkshires a better place for humans—that’s at the heart of what we do together. It’s right there in BNRC’s mission statement:

BNRC is here to “protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment.”

Who is the public? You are. And your children and grandchildren.

So are the spotted salamanders and beavers and leafy white orchids. Longtime town residents, visitors, and indigenous people who lived here for thousands of years.

Every living thing in the Berkshires is affected by the health of our natural world.

That’s the job—yours and ours together. Caring for the natural and the built environment around us for the health and well-being of all living things.

And believe me, there would be no chance of doing it without your help.

Sometimes that means (gently) balancing needs, like when BNRC installed beaver deceivers at Thomas and Palmer to protect the accessible trail. The beavers moved downstream a bit, and folks using wheelchairs and walkers can still experience this beautiful reserve.

Sometimes it means rebuilding infrastructure on BNRC reserves. If a culvert fails, the sediment and other materials can destroy the delicate ecology of a stream, and thereby the trout, mink, and columbine that rely on it. If a dam fails . . . well, we all know what happens then. It’s urgently important to repair and shore up these human-made parts of the landscape before it’s too late.

And at the heart of this mission is, always, a project like Fenn Farm, with its forests, wetlands, wildlife, and open space. Where someone—you, maybe?—sees an opportunity to conserve and protect. Where you can join BNRC to rally those who have the skills and resources to make it happen, resulting in . . .

. . . Green open space, with views for miles. Farms that produce food for our community. Safe haven for deer, bears, woodpeckers, and frogs.

Would you make a year-end donation to the Berkshire outdoors for all this, and so much more?


BNRC’s community mission boils down to this: protecting what we have, to make us stronger, healthier, safer. (And by us, I mean ALL of us—human, plant, animal.)

Thanks to donors like you, BNRC is good at that, going back decades to the conservation of Gould Meadows near Tanglewood and Baldwin Hill in Egremont, and tens of thousands more acres conserved all the way up to Fenn Farm in Stockbridge today.

Tens of thousands of acres protected, that could have been bulldozed, paved, polluted. Tens of thousands of acres that today directly contribute to the 78% of regional forest cover that protect the Berkshire climate by storing and sequestering carbon.

That exists because you and people like you choose to make it happen by putting your heart into your donations.

On every single project, BNRC works closely with partners—towns, state agencies, indigenous nations, and other conservation organizations.

One of those partners is you.

It’s great to look back at projects like Baldwin Hill in Egremont—we should feel an amazing, shared pride at what we’ve accomplished together, along with the Egremont Land Trust, and our generous neighbors on that hill.

Now, let’s look forward and ask: What will the Berkshires look like in 2030 if we do our best work, together?

What, together, can we make possible?

Fenn Farm is one of the most exciting and important projects BNRC has ever had the privilege to work on. It would not have happened without you.

Thanks to you, this historic parcel will be owned and stewarded by the Stockbridge-Munsee, with ongoing support in the care of the land from BNRC. It’s a story I will tell with pride and gratitude for decades to come. Thank you!

The months ahead will bring opportunities to conserve thousands of crucial, connected natural acres along the northern Taconics, and acres that connect city neighborhoods in Pittsfield to expansive outdoor experiences—to name only two of many pending collaborations.

Your gift makes it possible to . . .

. . . save Berkshire farms and keep them producing food that sustains us all . . .
. . . defend the rivers and forests—the habitats and corridors where wildlife can roam free . . .
. . . shore up the dams, culverts, and bridges that allow us humans to live safely within beautiful healthy nature . . .

Together we do BIG things. And as you know, the work is not done.

Let’s keep going this season. Please donate today.


Thanks for all you do for and give to the Berkshire outdoors.

Jenny Hansell

PS: Together we can do more BIG things to protect wildlife, farms, and public access to the outdoors. Give online at—or check out the many ways you can continue the work to protect landscapes hundreds of years in the making . . . stock donations, gifts from your IRA, or your donor-advised fund, cryptocurrency, land, annuities, and more. There are so many ways you can make a difference forever.

Photos by Gabrielle K. Murphy