Former Amherst resident Michael Kamins has offered a $5,000 challenge to help raise the remaining funds that are needed to protect 45 acres of forested land in Pelham. Kestrel is working with the Fennessey family to conserve two parcels in the Pelham Hills, a large expanse of forest that is home to black bear, bobcat, moose and other wildlife as well as the headwaters of both Amethyst Brook and Heatherstone Brook—tributaries to the Fort River.
Kamins remembers clearly the magic of this forested area that he experienced as a boy exploring the Pelham Hills. “As a child, my backyard bordered the confluence of the Fort River and Amethyst Brook, which peeked out from the edge of the forest covering the Pelham Hills,” Kamins wrote recently to Kestrel. “This place created a memory that has never left me: a deep pool of slow moving water bookended by two mossy white ash trees perched on the pool’s edge. During summer, the banks were carpeted with patches of clover and tall grass that covered the banks down to the water’s edge. Huge wily trout flashed by sending a lightning bolt of excitement through me, though I never caught a single one. To an 8-year-old this place was irresistible.”
The two parcels to be conserved are north of Amherst’s popular Amethyst Brook Conservation Area, which is adjacent to public conservation lands owned by the Town of Pelham and Kestrel Land Trust. A network of hiking trails exists in the area, including the Robert Frost Trail, which crosses the Fennessey land.
Kamins has pledged to match donations from others who love the Pelham Hills and wish to support this forest conservation effort, up to a total of $5,000. Online donations may be earmarked for this project by selecting “Pelham Hills” as the gift’s purpose. Checks may be mailed to Kestrel Land Trust, PO Box 1016, Amherst MA 01004.
The Fields Pond Foundation has awarded Kestrel a $10,000 grant for this effort, adding to $36,000 in Community Preservation Act funding approved by the residents of Pelham. Kestrel Land Trust, based in Amherst, is an accredited regional land conservation organization that conserves and cares for forests, farms, and riverways in the Pioneer Valley and nurtures an enduring love of the land. The Fields Pond Foundation, based in Waltham MA, provides financial assistance to community-oriented nature and land conservation organizations that work to increase environmental awareness and connect people to the land.