Forest Defenders

Three local town governments will soon vote on whether to add 688 acres to a state park that’s near Keene and just a few miles from Massachusetts and Vermont. Meanwhile, a new organization is working to limit logging in the park. At more than 13,000 acres, Pisgah is New Hampshire’s biggest state park.

“This is on the Swanzey select board agenda for September 24,” Shane O’Keefe told the Valley Post. He is that town’s Administrator. “The meeting begins at 6 p.m. but [Pisgah] probably won’t be discussed until 7 or 7:30,” he said.

Environmental Victory

Forestland and wetlands have been saved. In Northampton, 84 acres alongside Fitzgerald Lake will soon be protected against pavers. In Belchertown, which borders Amherst, 100 acres were recently saved thanks to a unanimous vote by the townspeople at this year’s Town Meeting. “The last step is to finalize a Conservation Restriction over the (Northampton) land, which will be held by Kestrel Land Trust,” Kristin DeBoer told the Valley Post on December 20. She is director of the Trust www.KestrelTrust.org. Money for the deal came from the city of Northampton and other sources.

470 Acres Saved

In the first half of 2012, a local land trust saved 470 acres of farmland, forest, and wetlands from being turned into parking lots, strip malls, and other so-called “development.” Kristin DeBoer, the director of Kestrel Land Trust in Amherst, made the announcement on July 3.

Between January and June, the group saved the following Pioneer Valley land:

~147 acres of forestland, pasture, and wetlands on Teawaddle Hill Farm on Teawaddle Hill Road in Leverett, near Amherst;

~121 acres of forest in Northampton and Westhampton;

Pavers Battle Nature Protectors Near Keene

Hundreds of acres of wilderness on the lower slopes of Mount Monadnock, near Keene, are at risk of being clear cut logged, paved, Chem Lawned, and “developed.” But activists are racing to save the land so future generations will be able to hike there. Details about that struggle are below.

Vermont Emerges as a Guiding Star for Massachusetts, New Hampshire

From 2002 until last year, Vermont's republican governor vetoed almost all of the major initiatives passed by the state's progressive legislature. In January, governor Peter Shumlin, a democrat who lives near Brattleboro, took office. Already, Vermont is setting an example for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Activists Likely to Save 100 Acres Near Northampton

A local land trust needs to raise just $500 more to permanently protect from development a 100 acre farm in South Hadley, near Northampton. A spokesperson for the Kestrel Trust told the Valley Post on December 28 that the fundraising effort was nearly complete.

The farm is known locally as McCray's farm. It is the last remaining dairy farm in South Hadley. From the farm, one can see Mount Tom and the Mount Holyoke Range.

More information is at www.KestrelTrust.org

81 Acres Near Amherst Saved From Development

The Kestrel Trust recently saved an 81 parcel of land in Pelham, near Amherst, from development. The land, at 339 Amherst Road, includes farm fields and 65 acres of forest and wetlands. Funding came from the town of Amherst, which gets some of its drinking water from the land, and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The property is adjacent to nearly 2,000 acres of permanently protected open space.

Logging or Wilderness: Public Hearing Nov. 16

Members of a local environmental group are urging the public to attend a public hearing on November 16 near Springfield about whether Massachusetts state-owned forest land should be logged or kept as wilderness. Forest Watch members say people should speak out in favor of wilderness at the 6:30 p.m. meeting with representatives of Governor Deval Patrick at 380 Southampton Road in Westfield.

Greenfield Residents Fight Proposed Wal-Mart

A group of Greenfield residents who are fighting a proposed “big box” store which they say would be a Wal-Mart, released the following statement on March 4. Contact information for the residents follows the statement. Valley Post articles about the proposed store are at:

www.valleypost.org/2009/04/22/pro-big-box-greenfield-mayor-voted-out

www.valleypost.org/2008/10/02/big-box-battle

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New Amherst Group Seeks to Aid Public Schools, Save Open Space

A group of Amherst residents is gathering signatures on a petition that would have the town spend more on public schools, open space protection, and other items. The petition supports a so-called "proposition 2½ override."

"When the roof is leaking you fix it to protect your home," Andrew Churchill told The Valley Post. Churchill is a supporter of the petition drive and assistant director of the UMass Amherst Center for Education Policy. He said recent cuts to the town budget have resulted in a situation like a leaky roof on a house.