Conservation Projects Completed in Colrain, Leyden, Sunderland, and Ashfield

Young person with binoculars looking into a forested area


The scenic Arthur Smith covered bridge crossing the East branch of the North River in Colrain is now the site of a permanent trail along land owned by farmer and woodworker Jeremy Topitzer. This “Lyonsville Trail” runs from the eastern side of the bridge to the shade of an old sugar maple, with public access to the trail only. Jeremy has plans for placing a bench along the course of the trail. This voluntary access program was made possible in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, using funds supplied by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Through this program, Franklin Land Trust has completed over a dozen trail easements, allowing access to almost 11 miles of trails promoting wildlife viewing, hiking, and quiet walks in the forest.


Landowners Tom Luck and Liz Kidder of Leyden have added 3 acres to the 11 acres that they previously protected by conservation restriction in 2008. These lands lie in the watershed of the Greenfield Water Supply area.


The Franklin Land Trust was pleased to partner with the Town of Sunderland to permanently conserve the 7.6-acre Sunderland Riverside Park, a popular site for visitors stopping by the library and the town hall. Using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding, Sunderland has made a number of improvements to the park, including a floodplain forest river-walk with interpretive signs and benches, additional land acquisition to expand the park, and improvements to the boat launch. Located along the east side of the Connecticut River on School Street, the park is also home to a baseball diamond, volleyball court, soccer field, and an accessible walking path.


Susan Todd of Ashfield has worked with FLT to add 17.5 acres to land that her family has previously conserved along John Ford Road in Ashfield. This land is located within a region of significant conserved lands, including FLT’s Guyette Farm and the Swift River Wildlife Management Area. It includes a tributary to the Swift River, designated by the state as a cold-water fisheries resource, as well as being listed as core habitat and critical natural landscape in the state’s Biomap 2. In addition to all the lands that they have protected, the Todd family conservation legacy includes thousands of acres that were conserved under the leadership of the late Richard Todd during his service as chairman of the board of the Franklin Land Trust.