HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, MA (July 19, 2017)—The double peaks and ridgeline of Horse Mountain are an iconic landmark for several rural towns in Massachusetts’ Connecticut River Valley. Now, with the support of the Open Space Institute (OSI), Kestrel Land Trust and its municipal partners have succeeded in permanently conserving land to enhance local recreation and provide a climate refuge for plants and animals.
The property, totaling 128 acres, consists of forested uplands and diverse wetlands that straddle two towns, Williamsburg and Hatfield. OSI chose to support the project through its Resilient Landscapes Initiative because the property provides an excellent diversity of wildlife habitat, and its varied topography helps make the area resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.
“The successful conservation project at Horse Mountain will ensure that these precious acres remain available to human, plant and animal communities, even as the climate changes,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president in charge of the Conservation Capital Program. “As we look to the future, land conservation is a critical tool in the fight against climate change. We commend Kestrel Land Trust and its partners on this land protection win.”
The area is also critical for large animals like black bear and bobcat that require wide ranges, as it provides connections to hundreds of acres of other conserved lands. But smaller species rely on it as well: the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program has found that the property supports several threatened salamander species.
OSI supported the Horse Mountain project with a $40,300 grant. The project was made possible by $163,000 in grants from the Massachusetts Land Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program to the Towns of Williamsburg and Hatfield, as well as $40,000 from Hatfield’s CPA Fund approved this spring.
“Everyone involved—the landowners who gave a bargain sale, the Town Select Boards, Conservation Commissions, Open Space Committees and Trails Committee—have worked very hard together to make this project happen,” said Kat Deely, Kestrel’s Community Conservation Manager. “The Open Space Committees and Conservation Commissions of both Towns were instrumental in supporting this project and seeing it through to completion.”