(Photo of Northfield State Forest courtesy of Glenn Minshall)
The Baker-Polito Administration and The Trust for Public Land announced that the state has purchased 1,287 acres of land within Northfield and Warwick from Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), an independent boarding school located in Gill, Massachusetts.
Governor Charlie Baker said the conservation of this land “will preserve precious natural resources for wildlife habitats, provide recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy, and create additional access for people to foster a love for nature.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said, “By protecting land within our state’s communities, we are ensuring that people from every corner of the Commonwealth have tremendous access to public green spaces to utilize for years to come.”
Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) said, “The purchase of 1,300 additional acres for the Northfield State Forest ensures that generations to come will be able to enjoy this natural resource for outdoor recreation.”
Located in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley, the land provides a picturesque backdrop to downtown Northfield and the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway, a Federal Highway Administration designation. It is also key to completing a protected habitat corridor from the Quabbin Reservoir to the Connecticut River. The project has been endorsed by the Northfield Board of Selectmen and the Northfield Open Space Committee.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said the Baker-Polito Administration will “continue to examine opportunities that will not only conserve and protect vital natural resources, but will also increase access for people of all abilities to enjoy.”
The Trust for Public Land has been working for several years with NMH, the Town of Northfield, and the DCR to bring this complex purchase to fruition. This sale represents the first phase of a multi-phase process. Later phases will focus on conserving an additional 330 acres around the Grandin Reservoir, which serves as the primary drinking water supply for 300 households in Northfield. Northfield Mount Hermon currently owns and operates the East Northfield Water Company, which manages that water supply.
Kevin Essington, Massachusetts Director for The Trust for Public Land, said that communities across America “are seeking to protect places that strengthen their shared identity and sense of place, and this addition to Northfield State Forest is beloved and will be protected forever.”
The land was bought for $2.5 million utilizing funds from the Massachusetts Landscape Partnership Program, the DCR land acquisition capital budget, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Acres for America Program.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.
For tourist information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.