Landowners from Northampton donate 24 acres to Franklin Land Trust

  • Will Sloan of the Franklin Land Trust stands alongside Bradford Brook at property acquired by the land trust off South Ashfield Road in Conway. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Will Sloan of the Franklin Land Trust at property acquired by the land trust on South Ashfield Road in Conway. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Having removed a “no trespassing” sign, Will Sloan of the Franklin Land Trust puts up a FLT emblem at property acquired by the land trust on South Ashfield Road in Conway. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Bradford Brook flows through land the Franklin Land Trust acquired on South Ashfield Road in Conway. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2021 10:42:32 AM

Two private landowners from Northampton donated 24 acres of land in Ashfield and Conway to the Franklin County Land Trust this month with the goal of ensuring the land be properly managed and conserved for future generations.

“We know the land will always be there, and that we can still go there with our families to enjoy it,” Larry Hott, one of the two landowners, said in a statement. “We also know that (Franklin Land Trust) has expertise and resources to manage this land, which is important to us as we think about climate change and the various threats to our forests, like invasive pests and plants.”

According to the Franklin Land Trust, the forested land off South Ashfield Road that Northampton resident Ed Etheredge and Hott, of Florence, purchased in 1979 sits at the intersection of Ashfield and Conway, with views of Mount Monadnock, Mount Wachusett and Mount Greylock in the fall and winter months. Etheredge and Hott originally bought the land with the intention of using it as a woodlot for firewood for their homes.

“They say cutting your own firewood warms you twice, but in our case, it was more like 15 or 20 times,” Hott said.

Hott and Etheredge hired Consulting Forester Lincoln Fish, who encouraged them to get a Forest Stewardship Plan, which they did and renewed every 10 years since 1980.

The Franklin Land Trust is in the process of applying for a Forest Stewardship Plan under its own name, according to Melissa Patterson-Serrill, director of community outreach and education at the trust.

The Forest Stewardship Program is a state program that aims to help landowners “protect the inherent ecosystem values of their forest,” according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

“As part of that, you can include a Bird Habitat Assessment,” Patterson-Serrill said.

The Bird Habitat Assessment Program, in partnership with Mass Audubon, “provides funding assistance to landowners to work with a consulting forester or other qualified professional to evaluate existing and potential habitat for a selection of birds,” according to DCR.

In an announcement about the land donation, Alain Peteroy, director of land conservation at Franklin Land Trust, said the nonprofit “immediately saw the conservation value in this land.”

The entire parcel is part of the BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape, which is a framework for the protection and stewardship of lands and waters most important for conserving biological diversity in Massachusetts, according to MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

“(BioMap2) sort of takes a big picture look at the parcel and how it can boost overall resiliency in the region if this parcel remains protected,” said Patterson-Serrill, noting that resiliency could be from climate change or extreme weather events, for example.

The Franklin Land Trust plans to manage the 24 acres for forestry, wildlife and recreation.

“We look forward to developing public access so visitors can enjoy the stream and managed woodlot,” Head Land Steward Will Anderson said in a statement. “We also hope to develop trails that climb through the forest and clear areas to take advantage of potential views.”

Hott and Etheredge, for whom the land was a “summer playground” for both their families, said they are glad to see the land go to the Franklin Land Trust.

“It is a lovely New England forest,” Etheredge said. “And we know the Franklin Land Trust will secure its beauty for years to come.”

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