Partnerships in Progress
Thanks to you and your neighbors’ commitment to conservation, Massachusetts is blessed with one of the highest number of land trusts in the country. Many
of these land trusts are run by volunteers and are focused on one town or a small region where your knowledge of the local landscape is key to connecting
Though volunteers play an invaluable role in both staffed and unstaffed land trusts, the business of land conservation and running a land trust can be time-intensive and complicated.
FLT has been working with two smaller volunteer land trusts over the past several months, and using our professional staff capacity to help meet the needs of two different volunteer land trusts at very different stages of their evolution.
Winding River Land Conservancy
Nearly 20 years old, the Winding River Land Conservancy started in Westfield and now works in western Hamden County and parts of western Hampshire County. Initially focused on Westfield, Winding River expanded to conserve farmland, wildlife habitat, and recreational lands in the nearby cities and towns several years ago. Winding River has protected 3,000 acres of land and owns several properties in Westfield, West Springfield and Blandford.
However, the increasing workload involved in land conservation has stressed this volunteer-run land trust, and the board members are looking for help in meeting their obligations. FLT has a history of partnering with WRLC, offering staff assistance to the organization for several years in the mid 2000’s, and is currently undertaking an ambitious campaign to protect 147 acres of waterfront land in Southwick (see North Pond article on page X).
FLT will be working with Winding River in the coming months to raise funds to boost Winding River’s capacity for more conservation and to steward their properties and conservation restrictions. “We’re thrilled to be working more closely with FLT”, said Winding River’s Board Chair Rosemary Arnold, “and are looking forward to furthering Winding River’s legacy in the southern Pioneer Valley.”
With your support, FLT is already meeting the needs of landowners on several projects in the region, putting a CR on a town owned parcel in Granville and pursuing an APR on farmland in Westfield.
Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (RGT)
When Rattlesnake Gutter Trust wanted to make sure the lands they own had the highest possible protection, they also turned to FLT for help. As a small all-volunteer organization focused on conserving land in Leverett, the board members looked ahead and wanted to safeguard their lands against any kind of encroachment, and to have a double layer of protection. They decided that a conservation restriction, or CR, would ensure that their goals and intentions for their properties would remain in place forever.
“We want the land trust properties to have the same level of protection that private landowners are receiving for their conserved lands in perpetuity,” explained Eva Gibavic, a board member of Rattlesnake Gutter and one of the people who spearheaded the work with FLT. “Our board was very familiar with FLT from all the work you’ve accomplished in Leverett, so we trusted FLT and knew the organization knew Leverett,” said Eva.
Rattlesnake Gutter Trust received a grant from the William P. Wharton Trust to help facilitate the CR. “The grant gave us the momentum and extra motivation to make this happen,” said Mary Alice Wilson, a former board member who was involved in the initial stages.
After many months of work by both Rattlesnake Gutter Trust board members and FLT staff, a CR was placed on the Ellamoose Repose property, the first of 9 Rattlesnake Gutter Trust properties. Another CR will follow on an additional property early next year. The Ellamoose Repose property is a 24.6 acre property near an expansive corridor of conserved land including Brushy Mountain. By placing a conservation restriction on this Rattlesnake Gutter Trust property, RGT is partnering with FLT so that the land will be will be monitored and safeguarded forever.