Trust for Public Land, National Park Service Protect 200 Acres Along the New England National Scenic Trail
Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conserved 200 acres along the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) in Southwick, Massachusetts.
The property, and about 1/3 of a mile of the trail itself, will be managed as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge.
“Trails have a unique power to connect, perhaps more than other green spaces, and protecting this Southwick section of the New England National Scenic Trail will create many more opportunities to bring people together outdoors,” said J.T. Horn, Director of the National Trails Initiative at Trust for Public Land. “Trust for Public Land is proud to keep this vital wildlife habitat and recreational space intact for generations to come.”
The New England National Scenic Trail is a 235-mile footpath that runs from the coast of Connecticut to the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The NET is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems. Congress designated the route a National Scenic Trail in 2009, and the acquisition announced today is the first federal acquisition for NET trail protection.
“As many residents in Western Massachusetts know, the NET trail offers the opportunity for families to get outdoors together, reap the health benefits access to nature offers, and provides sanctuary to a host of native wildlife,” said Jodi Valenta, Massachusetts State Program Director for Trust for Public Land. “I’m honored TPL has played such an important role in keeping this this segment of the New England Scenic Trail intact so it can continue to be utilized as a respite for thousands of residents and visitors alike and generate increased tourism dollars for local businesses.”
Although designated a National Scenic Trail by Congress, only about half of the 90-mile trail in Massachusetts exists on protected conservation land. The other half is vulnerable over time to shifts in ownership and changes in land use or development that could result in broken sections or lengthy road walks.
Trust for Public Land’s partnership with National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been instrumental in realizing these conservation goals. The Appalachian Mountain Club will continue to manage and maintain the property under the new federal ownership.
“The New England Trail is within ten miles of two million people, making it a tremendous resource for nearby residents and visitors alike, as well as a valuable corridor of wildlife habitat,” said Heather Clish, Vice President, Conservation and Recreation Advocacy at the Appalachian Mountain Club. “AMC is grateful for the partnership of the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Trust for Public Land in deploying the Land and Water Conservation Fund to assure the protection of this section of trail. We are also grateful for the longstanding partnership with the community of Southwick in helping to ensure people can enjoy the trail for generations to come.”
The Southwick property hosts a significant range of wildlife resources. The property includes part of Provin Mountain, a stretch of the traprock ridgeline running from the coast of Connecticut to the Mount Holyoke range. These rare landscapes host scenic cliffs, wetlands, and vernal pools as well as an abundance of rare plant communities in unique microclimates.
As visitors are drawn to these public lands, they also are spending time—and money—in the community. Local economies in Western Massachusetts will benefit from the protection of this trail.
Funding for the land purchase came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that reinvests revenues from offshore oil and gas leasing back into conserving lands and waters. Additional support for the project came from the National Park Foundation and a private fundraising campaign.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.