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Help Us Make Magic in Shutesbury

Viewing platform at Ames Pond

THINKING OF VISITING? Please be aware that trail work continues at Bright Water Bog until further notice. Many portions of the trails can be used, but you may encounter active work zones. (See the map.) Please avoid these and heed all work-related signage and/or barriers. Note that directional signs have not yet been installed.

CLOSE, BUT NOT DONE YET! There’s a magical place in Shutesbury where rocky forest ledges rise above wetlands, hemlocks and oaks surround a 22-acre mill pond, and cranberry and sundew nestle among other native plants in a natural bog. This remarkable 152-acre conservation area surrounding Ames Pond is Kestrel’s newest Nature Retreat: Bright Water Bog.

Kestrel worked with Dr. Julian Janowitz—a psychiatrist and amateur artist who lived next to the pond for 40 years—to conserve much of this land. To ensure that this special place continued to welcome the public, Julian included in his will a bequest of the land to Kestrel. In the two and a half years that Kestrel has stewarded these lands, we’ve embarked on an ambitious trail maintenance plan to restore access to its many remarkable features, consistent with Julian’s wishes.

As we enter the final stage of this ambitious project, we’re seeking support from the community to help create a safe trail experience that opens up the beauties of this place to all. Here’s what we’ve done, and how you can help us finish the job!

Last year, Kestrel’s stewardship team expanded the parking area, removed invasive plants between the parking area and entrance meadow, installed a kiosk, and created a 400-foot accessible raised pathway and 10’x24’ viewing platform looking out on the pond.

Entrance to Ames Pond/BWB before and after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In early 2024 we’ve undertaken the second phase of trail improvement efforts, including:

  • Replacing 870 feet of boardwalk through the bog (NEARLY COMPLETE)
  • Constructing approximately 190 feet of boardwalk over a beaver-flooded walkway (COMPLETE)
  • Replacing and extending a 140-foot wooden wetland walkway (NEARLY COMPLETE)
  • Stabilizing rock steps to the ledge overlook (ONGOING)
  • Installing directional and interpretive signage (NOT YET COMPLETE)
  • Work continues as of July, with some new tasks added, including repair of two large muddy spots along one trail, and expansion of our new pond viewing platform to span another puddle location.

Flooded trail before with boardwalk after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall project budget is approximately $270,000, with seed funding provided by Kestrel’s recent Promise to the Valley Campaign. As the most ambitious and most costly of Kestrel’s nature retreat projects to date, this effort is possible because of generous support from multiple public and private sources, including:

  • The Town of Shutesbury Community Preservation Act funds
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Mass Trails grant program
  • The Fieldstone Foundation
  • The Fields Pond Foundation

Earlier this spring, a donor offered a $50,000 challenge gift to inspire Kestrel members and others who love Valley lands to help with this effort. This inspired others to pitch in, which brought us to within $15,000 of our fundraising goal. Now that we’re so close, we’re excited to share a new challenge: A donor has offered a 2:1 match for gifts made to this project before July 14. Contribute $50, $100, or another amount for Bright Water Bog, and your gift will have three times the impact! Click here to contribute a gift of any amount.

If you already love this special place, or you’re excited to explore the bog boardwalk and admire the view from the ledges, please consider a gift to help meet the Bright Water Bog $50,000 challenge. Every gift counts! Make a special project gift online here or mail a check with “Bright Water Bog” in the memo line to Kestrel at PO Box 1016, Amherst MA 01004.

Other ways to give:

  • Do you have a Donor-Advised Fund? Consider making a gift from your DAF.
  • If your 70th birthday was more than six months ago, consider making a gift from your retirement account.
  • If you have investments, this may be a good time to consider donating appreciated securities and avoiding capital gain.

Thank you for helping us create a magical place for all!

Ames Pond bog summer old boardwalk

 

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