Baker-Polito Administration Preserves 1,300 Acres of Land in Northfield
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration and The Trust for Public Land announced that the state has purchased 1,287 acres of land within Northfield and Warwick from Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), an independent boarding school located in Gill, Massachusetts. The land, which will be managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), will be protected for public use and will immediately become part of Northfield State Forest.
“The significance of preserving approximately 1,300 acres of additional land for the public to benefit from for generations to come cannot be overstated,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The conservation of this land will preserve precious natural resources for wildlife habitats, provide recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy, and create additional access for people to foster a love for nature.”
“By protecting land within our state’s communities, we are ensuring that people from every corner of the Commonwealth have tremendous access to public green spaces to utilize for years to come,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “I am proud of our Administration’s efforts in the conservation of this land, and am happy that the residents of the Town of Northfield and those within the region will continue to have exceptional recreational opportunities.”
Located in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley, the land provides a picturesque backdrop to downtown Northfield and the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway, a Federal Highway Administration designation. It is also key to completing a protected habitat corridor from the Quabbin Reservoir to the Connecticut River. The project has been endorsed by the Northfield Board of Selectmen and the Northfield Open Space Committee.
“The approximately 1,300 acres of ecologically significant land preserved today by the state will continue to provide habitat for wildlife, and for the public to explore,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to examine opportunities that will not only conserve and protect vital natural resources, but will also increase access for people of all abilities to enjoy.”
“On behalf of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, I want to thank the Department of Conservation and Recreation and The Trust for Public Land for their efforts to conserve this property” said Peter Fayroian, Head of School. “Our 130 years of stewardship is coming to an end, but we are pleased that this land can continue to be a benefit to the people of Northfield and the Connecticut River Valley. This sale to a conservation agency is the right legacy to leave.”
The Trust for Public Land has been working for several years with NMH, the Town of Northfield, and the DCR to bring this complex purchase to fruition. This sale represents the first phase of a multi-phase process. Later phases will focus on conserving an additional 330 acres around the Grandin Reservoir, which serves as the primary drinking water supply for 300 households in Northfield. Northfield Mount Hermon currently owns and operates the East Northfield Water Company, which manages that water supply.
“The acquisition of nearly 1,300 acres of land by the Baker-Polito Administration is another example of state government continually seeking ways to protect, promote, and enhance the state’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “We thank The Trust for Public Land, Northfield Mount Hermon, and the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust for partnering with the agency in executing this extremely beneficial transaction.”
“Across America communities are seeking to protect places that strengthen their shared identity and sense of place, and this addition to Northfield State Forest is beloved and will be protected forever,” said Kevin Essington, Massachusetts Director for The Trust for Public Land. “And conservation at this scale is extremely rare in a small state and will benefit wildlife and help lessen the impacts of climate change.”
The land was bought for $2.5 million utilizing funds from the Massachusetts Landscape Partnership Program, the DCR land acquisition capital budget, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Acres for America Program. The NFWF Acres for America program is funded by Walmart Corporation and is one of the largest conservation funding programs in the country. Grants from the Bafflin Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation and numerous individuals to The Trust for Public Land helped pay for project costs.
“The expansion of Northfield State Forest exemplifies why Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently renewed the Acres for America program for another 10 years,” said Chris West, director of NFWF’s Rocky Mountain Regional Office. “The permanent protection of these 1,300 acres will ensure the survival of essential wildlife corridors, improve water quality and strengthen local recreational and forestry economies.”
“The purchase of 1,300 additional acres for the Northfield State Forest ensures that generations to come will be able to enjoy this natural resource for outdoor recreation,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “I thank the Baker Administration and the Department of Conservation and Recreation for their work on adding additional conservation land to continue to protect our open spaces.”
Quote from State Representative Paul Mark.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at http://www.tpl.org.