Hoosac Range

Open Space Institute’s Western Massachusetts Loan Fund Helps Protect Parcel in New Salem

NEW YORK, NY - March 8, 2006 - The Open Space Institute's western Massachusetts Revolving Loan Fund, launched in 2005, announced today a loan to the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust (Mount Grace) to protect key watershed lands associated with the Quabbin Reservoir. 

Mount Grace, a regional land trust serving north central and western Massachusetts, and New Salem residents, joined forces with OSI to protect the 136-acre parcel adjacent to the historic New Salem common from development. West Hill is located within the Quabbin Reservoir Watershed, which provides drinking water for half the population of Massachusetts. The property combines wetlands and views and its rural character is a valued asset in New Salem's historic district. 

The West Hill property is highly visible from Rout 202 and stretches behind the row of historic houses on the town common. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has identified the central portion of West Hill as a Primary Protection Zone due to its key Quabbin Reservoir watershed lands and tributary streams. As a primary open space linkage between the Quabbin Reservoir and the greater Wendell State Forest, West Hill is also designated as a Biomap Core Habitat by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. 

Using the loan from the Open Space Institute's western Massachusetts Revolving Loan Fund, support from many New Salem residents, and its members, Mount Grace purchased West Hill for $775,000. In November, 2005, the Open Space Institute launched its western Massachusetts Revolving Loan Fund, making its first loan to Mount Grace for its acquisition of a 123-acre parcel of forested land near Brush Mountain in Northfield, Massachusetts. To date, the Loan Fund has provided 3 loans in western Massachusetts, protecting approximately 265 acres at a total cost of $1.15 million.

Mount Grace, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a goal of reaching over 20,000 acres of protected land in its twenty-three town region, will be able to continue its tradition of large block conservation projects, thanks to OSI's support. 

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