Nature, Justice

On June 6 the annual town meeting in Sunderland, Massachusetts will be held outdoors at 4 p.m. People are required to wear a face mask and, if they want to sit on a chair, they should bring a chair. Sunderland borders Amherst. At the meeting people will decide whether to save 40 acres of open space in town from development.

2,000 Acres Close to Being Saved

In three towns that border Amherst, 2,000 or so acres of forestland is close to being permanently protected from development. The land is in the Massachusetts towns of Leverett, Pelham, and Shutesbury. The deal should be done within six months. Kestrel Land Trust is involved in the deal. Land trusts get much of their money from the government. The government invests a tiny amount of money in land protection compared to its investments in war, prison for non-violent people, and tax cuts for billionaires.

Environmental Victory

In a victory for the environment, a local land trust has permanently protected from development 122 acres of open space in Montague, Massachusetts. Montague borders Greenfield. The land is used to grow organic vegetables at Red Fire Farm. The land trust announced the news on September 12. It has a web site at

Land trusts use money from the government and private donations to protect farmland, wilderness, and forestland that is sustainably (not clear-cut) logged.

Eight Arrested, Land Saved

In the Valley, eight people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience and 184 acres of land were permanently protected from development. On June 24, eight people were arrested while protesting the construction of a fracked gas pipeline in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Sandisfield is in the Connecticut river valley, about an hour by car west of Springfield.

361 Acres Saved

Thanks to the work of environmental activists, about 361 acres of open space in the Valley have been permanently protected from development. On February 24, the Kestrel Land Trust announced in an e-mail to its members it had saved 161 acres of forestland in Pelham, Massachusetts. Pelham borders Amherst. The land is open to the public for hiking.

Quabbin National Park Proposed

A new group is working to stop clear cut logging in the Pioneer Valley's biggest area of protected open space. The activists want to do that by persuading politicians to convert the 87,000 acre Quabbin state forest into a national park. Of that area, 58,000 acres is land, the rest is water. Stopping logging on the land would make it more profitable for logging companies to buy forestland that might otherwise be turned into houses, roads, Walmarts, and parking lots. Logging companies can be required to log sustainably, not using clear cut logging. This kind of rule exists in Vermont.

Land Close to Being Saved

Swanzey, New Hampshire is about five miles from Massachusetts and Vermont. Activists are close to saving 29 acres in Swanzey from being paved. The land is along the Ashuelot river. When the deal goes through, dry parts of the land will continue to be used for hay farming. People will plant American elm and silver maple trees on wet parts of the land. “American elms were one of the dominant trees in the Connecticut river valley,” Mark Zankel told the Valley Post in a telephone interview December 14. He is director of the New Hampshire chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Most of the Valley is at Risk of Being 'Developed'

A new map of the the Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire shows that the vast majority of the farmland and forestland is vulnerable to being converted to houses, roads, parking lots, and Walmart stores and similar commercial buildings.

Click on the map to enlarge it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." Then click on the map again to enlarge it more. You can move the image using the arrows on your keyboard.

Environmental Victory

In Northfield, Massachusetts, near Greenfield, 142 acres of farmland, forest, streams and ponds will soon be permanently protected from development, David Kotker told the Valley Post on May 19. He works for the group that is fighting to save the land. The group has a web site at

A trail designed for people in wheel-chairs and for people walking will be open to the public. More than $330,000 to save the land and build trails came from the state and town government, and donations. When another $10,000 is raised, the deal will be done, Kotker said.

1,000 Acres in the Balance in Amherst Area

A group in Amherst that has saved more than 19,000 acres of farmland, forest, and wetlands in the Valley is fighting to protect more than 1,000 acres in the Amherst area “Range” that is at risk of being turned into parking lots, roads, strip malls, vacation homes and other kinds of so-called “development.”