June 3, 2022
For those of you not signed up to receive BNRC’s “Newsyletters,” or for those wondering what a newsyletter is, these regular updates are one excellent way to keep up-to-date on BNRC’s recent accomplishments and upcoming plans – all sent right to your inbox! We hope that you’ll enjoy reading our spring feature below, and, if you like what you see, you can sign up to receive them by clicking here.
What do you love most about the Berkshires?
That question came up recently on a local Facebook group I follow. People were asked to respond with pictures.
Almost immediately, the photos started coming: serene lakes, mountain vistas, rugged trails. A secret tract of forest. Deer, bears, and bees.
Do you know why we have this serenity, beauty, and ruggedness? Why the views, and the quiet… why the wildlife isn’t gone?
It’s because of you, and people like you: people who love the Berkshires and who have decided its mountains, trees, and bees are important.
People who have chosen to act with their heart, their hands, and their money, to protect what matters most.
It’s funny, isn’t it, to measure success in what hasn’t happened?
What if together we hadn’t acted to protect Baldwin Hill in Egremont?
When you walk Baldwin Hill today, what you don’t see is development. You don’t see the collective efforts of hundreds of people like you. All you see is—beauty. Open fields. The majestic elm… Egremont’s most beloved resident!
But it IS the work, the coming together, the focusing of our time, energy, and money on what we value, that ensured that Baldwin Hill… and Undermountain Farm in Lenox… and Hollow Fields in Richmond… and hundreds of other places across the county… will stay as they are—as our generations received them.
You did that. You and folks like you can do that this spring by donating to BNRC.
But this wasn’t meant to be a typical fundraising letter! Actually, at this point in the year, I usually write what we call a Newsyletter—filled with updates on recent accomplishments and plans for the coming seasons.
So here’s some great news:
- Thanks to the generosity of the owners of Ice House Hill Farm, BNRC has accepted a conservation restriction on 130 acres of the farm (formerly part of the Malnati Farm). This means the farm is preserved and its scenic views are protected in perpetuity. Because of donors, BNRC has expert land conservation staff who can act on opportunities like these on a moment’s notice…
- Speaking of a moment’s notice, last November, BNRC was contacted by Cynthia and Randolph Nelson who wanted to donate their property of 120 acres that bordered Sleepy Hollow and Dublin Roads in Richmond. Their hope was to complete the donation quickly, and thanks to folks like you, it all came together just in time for the New Year’s Day holiday. This was a new opportunity for BNRC to offer more open land for public enjoyment, deepen its commitment to ensuring that farmers have access to farmland, and help land donors achieve their conservation goals. BNRC is in the process of learning more about this parcel and how best to open it fully to the public.
- Over at Basin Pond in Lee, I’m thrilled that BNRC’s land stewardship team is currently in the permitting phase of improving the stream crossings along the trail that lead to the pond—a place that is perfect for picnicking, birding, and writing. Getting into those improvements this year will make it easier for more of us to use the trails (the stream crossings have been a bit precarious the last few years). It will be good for the streams too, keeping the edges of those beds in shape.
- There’s also going to be improved access at the Olivia’s Overlook reserve on Yokun Ridge South—it’s seen a sharp rise in use since the start of 2020 and is also part of the newly opened High Road segment of trails to towns, thanks to the 600+ households that donated to the project several years ago.
- Access is about more than trails too! Folks have written to the BNRC office and shared on social media that the Spanish language trail maps for BNRC reserves that you made possible are a huge hit!
- You’ve also helped BNRC acquire outdoor equipment like snowshoes and gear packs, to share with local outing groups such as Berkshire Family Hikes and Latinas413.
- In 2022, there will be new trail at Thomas & Palmer in Great Barrington, designs for parking access at the forthcoming Tom Ball reserve, and lots of other work on dams, bridges, culverts… which you might not notice but you would if they didn’t get done!
- More conservation is in the works too. All in all, there are at least ten pending conservation projects, in various stages, amounting to over 2,000 acres of Berkshire forests, fields, vistas, farms, and waters—places that will remain unspoiled… where you can notice what hasn’t happened.
A final note: I wrote earlier in this letter that you all, together, are why the Berkshires look the way they do—why so many people on Facebook were able to share images of Berkshire beauty.
But I want to single out one particular person, who painstakingly, ferociously, persistently did the work to make these conservation projects happen.
If not for BNRC’s Director of Land Conservation, Narain Schroeder, the Berkshires would look very different today.
Narain is not someone who calls attention to himself. The only reason I’m doing so now is that, after 19 years, he’s decided to conclude this chapter of his career and seek new opportunities. As he told me, his kids have left for college and beyond, and now is the right time to go. He will be deeply missed.
For Narain… for the Facebook pictures… for the bobolink and moose… for the places where we fall in love… for the conservation projects in process… for free public access to nature…
…please donate this spring to provide for everything we accomplish together through BNRC. It’s great having you on the team!