82 Acres Protected Along Fort River in Hadley, MA
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, announced today that 82 acres on Moody Bridge Road in Hadley have been acquired and will be managed as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
The property contains several thousand feet of frontage along the Fort River (the longest free-flowing tributary of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts), open fields and other important habitat for fish, federally endangered dwarf wedgemussels and other rare species. These include the bridle shiner dragonfly and several species of state-protected turtles. The parcel supports significant populations of grassland birds. It comprises one of the most scenic areas in the Pioneer Valley, and is entirely within the recharge zone for the Town of Hadley's new public drinking water source, the Callahan Well.
The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge protects prime fish and wildlife habitat in the Connecticut River watershed in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. This property lies within a focus area of the refuge known as the Fort River Division.
The support of U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and U.S. Representative Richard Neal, and especially the leadership of U.S. Representative John Olver, a member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, helped to secure nearly $2 million in funding for the acquisition from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund supports the acquisition of lands for the
National Wildlife Refuge System and other federal units throughout the nation.
"I'm very pleased that we were able to include this land in our national wildlife refuge system, so that it will be permanently protected habitat. I commend all of the project partners who worked together to make this acquisition happen," said Sen. Kennedy.
"Protecting 82 acres more of our state's incredible natural habitat is a victory for those who treasure the special character of Massachusetts and want to see it preserved for future generations. I am grateful for TPL's and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's conservation efforts. Their effort is increasingly important as we work to conserve our region's natural beauty in an age of increasing over development," said Sen. Kerry.
"I am very pleased that I was able to secure funding for the Conte Wildlife Refuge," Congressman John Olver said. "In light of current development pressures in the Connecticut River watershed, it is increasingly important that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have the resources to preserve the most critically sensitive ecosystems within the Connecticut River Valley."
"As a strong supporter of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, I am pleased that this pristine land in the Pioneer Valley will be preserved," said Rep. Neal. "The Connecticut River is a national treasure and the acquisition of this public property will ensure that its habitat will be protected for years to come."
Clem Clay, director of The Trust for Public Land's Connecticut River program, acknowledged the central role that federal investments play in protecting threatened local landscapes. "We are thrilled to work with committed landowners to permanently conserve this incredible piece of land, a result that could not have been achieved without the dedication and patience of our federal delegation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," he said.
"The addition of the 82 acres to the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was made possible by our dedicated conservation partners and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. The combined efforts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Trust for Public Land, The Conservation Fund, Valley Land Fund, The Kestrel Trust and the national wildlife refuge are clearly making tangible and vitally important investments for plants, fish, wildlife and people in the Hadley and Amherst area. The Fort River acquisition is a success for the conservation community," said Andrew French, USFWS project leader for the Conte refuge.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped to protect more than 2.3 million acres nationwide, including nearly 12,000 acres in Massachusetts and over 170,000 acres in the Connecticut River watershed in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.