Aaron Family Homestead
The Aaron Family Homestead
In 2008, Jim Aaron approached the Franklin Land Trust on behalf of his father, then 96 years old. The Aaron family wished to donate a conservation restriction (CR) on the 70-acre family homestead at the end of French Road, just above the Cummington Fairgrounds. Because of unresolved due diligence issues, the CR was never recorded. This past winter, Jim contacted FLT again. His father, now 102 years old, was anxious to put his affairs in order. Jim contracted with Rich Roberge to complete a survey, and FLT proceeded with the CR approval process. We were pleased to fulfill Mr. Aaron’s wishes this past July when the CR was finally recorded, one month before his 103rd birthday.
Natural Resources & Conservation Values:
The Aaron property is at the end of French Road (aka Goddard), a discontinued, abandoned road. There are three fields (two of which are currently being hayed by a local farmer) containing more than eight acres of open land. A third field has been abandoned for a few years and is becoming prime early successional habitat critical for a variety of avian species and other wildlife. Since 1983, more than 60 acres of the property have been managed under a Forest Management Plan and enrolled in Chapter 61. The woodland is a mix of northern hardwoods including sugar maple, black cherry, white ash, the occasional American elm, and red, black, and yellow birch. Soils are fairly deep and support healthy hay production as well as forest growth. Spring wildflowers include Jack in the pulpit, purple trillium, marsh marigold, and dicentra species. The property is situated on the ridge just west of Mount Road and almost entirely bounded by stone walls.
The property contains several drainages, seasonal streams, vernal pools and forested wetlands draining into Tower Brook, located 1,300 feet downstream. Tower Brook is a major tributary of the nearby Westfield River and runs through the Warner Farm CR. As the map illustrates, the property is less than ¾ of a mile from Chesterfield State Forest, the Paul Cuddy Wildlife Management Area, and the Warner Farm CR. It is close to several Department of Agricultural Resources APRs on private farms, as well as Department of Fish and Game CRs. The property is adjacent to BioMap2 Core Habitat, Priority Habitats of Rare Species, and Estimated Habitats of Rare Wildlife. It also contains a small portion of BioMap2 Supporting Natural Landscape. The majority of the property is in the Living Waters Critical Supporting Watershed as designated by the Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program.
The Franklin Land Trust was awarded a grant from the Wild & Scenic Wesfield River Committee Riparian Conservation Grant Program to support due diligence costs including recording fees, legal assistance and title expenses. Grants such as these make projects such as the Aaron Family gift CR possible. http://www.wildscenicwestfieldriver.org/riparianGrants.html
Conservation Restriction (CR):
The existing house, barn and small outbuilding are contained in an envelope as part of the CR premises; it can never be separated from the conserved land. Within this envelope, only improvements for a single-family dwelling can be built. The CR allows for the standard rights of forestry, agriculture, trail and woods road maintenance and passive recreational uses. Based on the road frontage being conserved, several house lots might have been subdivided from this property if the CR was not completed, thereby forever altering this stunning, rich landscape of fields and woods.
Happy Birthday Daniel Aaron!