Two funding resources put to work preserving forests in Massachusetts

New York, NY — April 20, 2011 — Working with partners at the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, the Open Space Institute supported two recent projects that together protected more than 600 acres in the mountainous southwest corner of Massachusetts.

OSI's funding for the projects—Mount Darby and Camp Northrop—came from two different Conservation Finance initiatives—the Western Massachusetts Land Protection Fund and Saving New England's Wildlife, which are made possible with support from the Kohlberg Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, respectively. Both project sites are located in the town of Mount Washington and lie within a 17,000-acre contiguous forest that is one of the most biologically rich interior forest blocks in southern New England.

"This has been a goal of OSI's Conservation Finance Program from the outset," said Peter Howell, OSI's executive vice president, "to provide funding wisely, in such a way that it helps connect the dots from one protected landscape to another. These two properties are part of a cluster of conserved forestland in southwestern Massachusetts, and their preservation now creates greater linkage of habitat and unspoiled, dense forest."

The Mount Darby parcel, a 326-acre swath that OSI's $60,000 grant helped BNRC acquire, was one of the few remaining large, unprotected parcels on the Mount Everett massif of the Taconic Range. Bordering conserved land on three sides, its protection will help facilitate wildlife movement through the region for whitetail deer, wild turkey, snowshoe hare, black bear, bobcat and other wide ranging species. The property also contains breeding and feeding habitat for endangered reptile, bird and butterfly species

BNRC envisions allowing public access on the property for snowshoeing and hiking along a small network of trails.

OSI awarded TNC a $138,000 grant that helped place a conservation restriction on 292 acres of high-priority forest in the second project—Camp Northrop, a former summer camp for disadvantaged New York City youth. While camp operations may be revived on a limited portion of the property, the majority of the acreage will be conserved to benefit the rare wildlife found on the property.

This project contributes to regional efforts to build a network of protected forestland—over 36,000 acres—from the Hudson Highlands of New York through the Berkshires and Taconics and into Vermont's Green Mountains. By doing so, critically important habitat for dozens of rare species of plants and animals is being preserved.

"OSI’s role in enhancing conservation initiatives, particularly those focused on the implementation of the State Wildlife Action Plans in this region, is critically important,” said Rob Warren, TNC’s director of protection and policy for Massachusetts. “In this case, OSI’s different funding mechanisms were able to intersect so that one’s focus complemented another’s, which helps TNC as it seeks wide scale protection of intact natural systems throughout New England.”

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