May 24, 2005
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass: The Town of South Hadley and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization, announced today that the Town of South Hadley has acquired the 284-acre Bachelor Brook/Stony Brook property along the Connecticut River on the west part of town. The property was purchased from two subsidiaries of Northeast Utilities for $1.55 million. At a special town meeting held on January 18, 2005 town meeting members unanimously approved the acquisition. The property runs from the Town Farm on Route 47 south to the Connecticut River. The 3,000 feet of Connecticut River frontage includes the confluences of both Stony and Bachelor Brooks.
"This is an amazing accomplishment for South Hadley", said Badge Blackett, Senior Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land. "It's been years in coming, but what a result. When you realize how rare opportunities are becoming to provide public ownership and enjoyment of land of this scale along the Connecticut River, you can't help but conclude that generations to come will revere the Board of Selectmen and the other Town boards and officials whose leadership and vision brought us to this day."
The Town's acquisition was helped by a $500,000 grant from the State's Self-Help Program, and a $300,000 contribution from Mount Holyoke College. The property received the maximum grant award by the Self-Help Program due to its abundance of natural resources and the recreational opportunities it offers.
The State Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has identified thirteen rare or threatened species on the property. As a condition of the State grant, the property will be permanently restricted to passive recreational uses such as hiking, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing and horseback riding. An extensive trail system is already well-used by area residents. The current agricultural use will also be allowed under the terms of the grant. The Town intends to continue the agricultural lease currently in place with a local farmer who grows silage corn on the property's open fields.
"Preservation of this land has been the number one land use priority of the Town for the past several years," stated Richard Constant, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. "This Board is indebted to the Trust for Public Land for becoming our partner in helping acquire it, as well as the Commonwealth and Mount Holyoke College. We are also grateful to other town boards, our Town Planner Richard Harris, and particularly our Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi and State Representative John Scibak for following through and shepherding this project with the Trust to completion. It is a wonderful legacy this Board will leave to our residents."
In January, many Town Meeting Representatives cited the importance of acquiring the Bachelor Brook/Stony property as a way of preserving one of South Hadley's last, large agricultural landscapes. Others highlighted the importance of the property to the ongoing efforts of the State's Department of Conservation and Recreation to create a network of protected land from Holyoke Range to the Connecticut River.
The Bachelor Brook/Stony Brook project is the latest acquisition in TPL's Connecticut River Program, which has protected more than 175,000 acres in the Connecticut River Watershed since the inception of the program two years ago. Earlier this year, TPL acquired 8 acres on the Connecticut River in Holyoke on behalf of Nuestras Raices, a Holyoke-based community farming and development non-profit. "The Bachelor Brook land is the quintessential Connecticut River property, and has everything that motivated the Trust for Public Land to establish its Program," said Clem Clay, TPL's Connecticut River Program Director. "This was the Town's top land protection priority. It has prime agricultural soils and a host of other important natural resources. The land fits into the mosaic of properties already protected through the hard work of Department of Conservation and Recreation and local land trusts. It's an honor for TPL to be part of this rich land protection legacy."
The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 10,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact us at 617-367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org/massachusetts.
Kim Gilman, Public Affairs Manager, The Trust for Public Land, 617-367-6200, ext. 326.
Patricia Vinchesi, South Hadley Town Administrator, 413-538-5017.