Friday, December 27, 2013
The Nature Conservancy has added 104 acres of land in the Westfield River Watershed to its list of protected areas in the Commonwealth.
The organization purchased two tracts of primarily wooded land from the Pease Richardson family in Middlefield.
One 55-acre parcel was sold for $80,000 while a 49-acre parcel went for $67,500.
“This sale is historic, in that this land has been part of the Pease family since my grandparents bought it just after they were married,” said Myrtle (Pease) Richardson.
Nature Conservancy Land Protection Specialist Markelle Smith said the land is critical to protect because of its location within a large area of intact high-quality forest.
The land borders a 31-acre piece also owned by the Conservancy, which means it creates a corridor of protected land that includes Factory Brook, a tributary to the West Branch of the Westfield River.
The upper Westfield River is one of a handful of spawning areas in the state for the Atlantic salmon.
The dense woodland in the watershed serves as a buffer the wetland ecosystems and provides important habitat for wide-ranging mammals like black bear, mink, fisher and bobcat, while sheltering birds that seek safety in the forest cover.
Nationally designated as a Wild and Scenic River, the Westfield River is one of the most healthy and intact river systems in southern New England.
Smith praised the landowners for helping to protect 104 acres of land.
“Thanks to the property owners’ foresight and conservation values, we’ve been able to protect more than 1,100 feet of frontage on Factory Brook, along with many acres of intact forest that surround it,” Smith said. “They were really great to work with.”
Myrtle said that the her family is “pleased to have worked with The Nature Conservancy to conserve an area so rich in natural beauty that will serve as a tribute to the family’s historic legacy in the area.”