Environmental Victories

On December 23, environmental groups announced they had saved 3,486 acres of forestland near Amherst from development. It is the biggest such environmental victory in the Valley in years. Smaller parcels of land were protected near Brattleboro and Keene.

“Never before has Kestrel had the opportunity to conserve such a large area of land in a single conservation project," said Kristin DeBoer. She is director of the Amherst based Kestrel Trust, which was founded in 1970. The Trust worked with other environmental groups to raise about $8.8 million, mostly from the government, to permanently protect the land in the towns of Leverett and Shutesbury. The land will remain open to the public for hiking. It will continue to be logged using sustainable forestry practices by the Amherst based W.D. Cowls Corporation.

More information is at www.KestrelTrust.org

Sullivan, New Hampshire is near Keene. This month, the Monadnock Conservancy www.MonadnockConservancy.org protected 308 acres of forest land there and in neighboring Gilsum. The land includes almost two miles of riverbank along the White Brook and Ashuelot River. The land will remain open to the public for hiking. The development rights were donated by the children of Rosemarie and John Calhoun.

Whitingham, Vermont is on the Massachusetts border near Brattleboro. This month, the Vermont Land Trust www.vlt.org announced it had protected a 105 acre sheep, maple syrup, and Christmas tree farm in Whitingham. Betsy and Don McKinley own the farm. They donated the development rights to the Trust, a non-profit organization that gets most of its funding from the state.

The vast majority of land in The Valley is still unprotected and vulnerable to being paved with roads, parking lots, “McMansion” vacation homes that are usually vacant, Wal-Marts, and other so-called “development.”

More information about land use in the Valley – including a map of protected land -- is at:

www.ValleyPost.org/node/137

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