Agreement Would Protect 66 Acres Along Fort River, MA

Hadley, MA 1/8/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase 66 acres of land located on Moody Bridge Road in Hadley for addition to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

The property is owned by Martha Zuckerman and was approved for a 43-lot subdivision in 2005. TPL’s agreement temporarily removes the threat of development, providing a brief, one-time opportunity to secure the $2.1 million needed to fund the purchase. “Putting this property under agreement is an important first step in this process. TPL would like to extend its gratitude to Martha Zuckerman for providing this opportunity and to the Town of Hadley and the Kestrel Trust for their unwavering support for the protection of priority lands along the Fort River,” said TPL Project Manager Nellie Aikenhead.

The Moody Bridge parcel, which includes more than 4,000 feet of frontage on the Fort River, is the Refuge’s top preservation priority in Massachusetts and has long been targeted for preservation by the Kestrel Trust and the Valley Land Fund. Under the terms of the agreement, TPL will acquire the property on September 30, 2009, relying on appropriations from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund. At the urging of Congressmen John Olver, a senior member of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, and Richard Neal, and U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, Congress is now considering timely funding for the purchase.

Valuable grasslands, wooded riverbank, and wetlands, as well as prime habitat for the wood turtle, a state-recognized species of Special Concern, are located on the premises, which also currently house an equestrian business known as the Bri-Mar Stable. “If the land is conveyed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we will manage the upland areas as grasslands for ground nesting birds, such as grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, and upland sandpiper. The riparian and wetland areas will be managed as habitat for wood turtles and a wide variety of migratory birds. We also plan to promote appropriate and compatible public uses on the property and on future lands acquired for the Refuge,” said Andrew French, project leader for the Refuge.

Owner Martha Zuckerman stated, “We are pleased to participate in the conservation of our property. Although the sale price to TPL is lower than what we would receive from a developer, our family feels this land will be a valuable addition to the wildlife refuge and for that reason we have agreed to sell at a discount. We also set a September closing date so that the 2009 spring/summer foaling season will not be disrupted.”

According to Kristin DeBoer, Executive Director of the Kestrel Trust, “The grasslands and farmland between the Fort River and the Mt. Holyoke Range are a MUST SAVE area of the Valley. By protecting this key parcel, we can help restore the integrity of the Fort River and safeguard the beauty of this gorgeous area.”

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. The Refuge’s Fort River Division focuses on a grassland bird habitat and is part of a scenic landscape boasting more than 600 acres of protected farmland beloved by valley residents. In combination with the four other Fort River Division properties protected by TPL and USFWS in recent years, the Moody Bridge Road land will help protect the water quality for Hadley’s Callahan Well and the Fort River, the longest free-flowing tributary of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and home to the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel.

Clem Clay, Connecticut River Program director for The Trust for Public Land, said, “TPL is proud to continue our work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Massachusetts congressional delegation, the Town, and local partners. Together we can conserve one of the Valley’s truly special landscapes and protect important habitat that would otherwise be lost forever.”

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 2.5 million acres nationwide, including nearly 12,000 acres in Massachusetts and over 170,000 acres in four-state Connecticut River watershed. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and business to achieve its land for people mission. For more information, visit

Photos or a map showing the property are available by request; please contact Kim Gilman at The Trust for Public Land, 617-367-0526, or