Land trust acquires 31 acres from Eversource
HADLEY — A 31-acre span of Hadley grassland will be protected forever with its acquisition from Eversource Energy by the Kestrel Land Trust.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to see the landscape protected, especially a piece of land that is so beloved by the community,” Kestrel Land Trust Executive Director Kristin DeBoer said. “This property, in particular, really struck a chord with the community and we got many calls about protecting the land.”
The land at the corner of South Maple Street and Moody Bridge Road in Hadley will be conserved as part of the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
The land contains wetlands and fields, abuts land already protected and is a “keystone parcel” of the farmlands, grasslands, wetlands and floodplain forest between the Mount Holyoke Range and Fort River in Hadley. According to information provided to news organizations, the property is essential to drinking water protection, wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities.
Andrew French, project leader at the Conte Refuge, said the acquisition will expand the several hundred acres already protected in the surrounding area and will provide uninterrupted habitat for grassland nesting species and floodplain forest species.
“It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle,” French said. “In order to complete a puzzle, you need all the pieces and every piece is important.”
The sale of the land from Eversource will be covered by $680,000 from the Massachusetts Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to the information provided.
The land is in an agricultural area, but the wet soils were not eligible for the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, often used to protect active farms in the area, according to the information. Instead, as part of the refuge, the land will provide grassland bird nesting habitat and will be open to the public.
DeBoer said that when the property first went on the market in 2016, dozens of people called the land trust to support the conservation of the land and stop housing development on the property. It took two years to finalize the negotiation with Eversource and to secure public funds for the acquisition. She said the land trust appreciates Eversource’s willingness to sell for conservation purposes.
Eversource owns more than 42,000 acres in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to its website, and has its own land trust which conserves four properties in Connecticut.