Against All Odds, Hawley Project Closes

The core of this conservation effort is the 525-acre Singing Brook
Farm Trust conservation restriction, a fourth-generation familyowned
property managed for timber, wildlife and recreation.
Abutting the Singing Brook Farm Trust property are three smaller
properties, totaling almost 70 acres, belonging to members of the
Sears family and protected with conservation restrictions. Richard
Ohmann of Labelle Road granted a conservation restriction on 155
acres of his land that protects an actively managed forest, a growing
beaver pond, streams and hayfield.

“I wanted to make sure the land would stay as it is,” Ohmann
said, “without commercial development, but open to people of
neighboring towns for pretty much the same recreational activities
they enjoy now. Franklin Land Trust showed the way, and guided me
and my family through a complex process.”
These properties contain well managed forests with diverse wildlife
habitat and add to already existing blocks of conservation land. The
Singing Brook Farm Trust and Sears conservation restrictions are
adjacent to the Kenneth Dubuque Memorial Forest. The Ohmann
property connects to the 250-acre MA Department of Fish and
Game’s Hawley Natural Heritage Area to the west and two privately
owned conserved properties to the north.

The Hawley project was approved for funding about the time Hawley
found itself reeling from the environmental, economic and political
impacts of Hurricane Irene. Landowners and funding partners
showed great patience in working through Hawley’s difficult
time while continuing to partner with Franklin Land Trust in an
important land conservation effort.
The Hawley Focus Area Project was funded in part by the
Commonwealth’s Landscape Partnership Grant Program that
seeks to preserve large, unfragmented, high-value conservation
landscapes, including working forests and farms. Private funding
sources included the Open Space Institute’s Western Massachusetts
Land Protection Fund, which supports the conservation of forested
landscapes in western Massachusetts with a focus on protecting
wildlife habitat and compatible human uses, such as sustainable
forestry and low-impact recreation. The Fields Pond Foundation
and William P. Wharton Trust supported the acquisition of the five
conservation restrictions as well. The Franklin Land Trust secured
short term loans from The Conservation Fund to purchase the
conservation restrictions which are co-held by FLT and the Town
of Hawley.