The Town of Shutesbury will soon have a new conservation area open to its residents and the public. Thirty-four acres of prime forest land that includes the headwaters of Amethyst Brook has been protected thanks to strong community support, including the use of Community Preservation Act funds, as well as the efforts of local volunteers and town committees.
The new conservation area located in the southwest corner of the town along Pelham Hill Road will be owned and managed by the Shutesbury Conservation Commission in partnership with Kestrel Land Trust, which will hold the Conservation Restriction on the land. Plans for the area include a formal trail system and a parking area—two features that many residents have welcomed. Improved access to well-marked trails is one of the most-identified community needs in Shutesbury’s latest Open Space and Recreation Plan.
Unique scenic qualities of this new public forest include the remnants of a historic dam, as well as a tributary stream that flows into Amethyst Brook. Conserving the land around the headwaters of a stream is a critical means of protecting surface drinking water, which makes up 70% of all drinking water in the United States.
Along with these benefits, the land will connect two existing conserved areas to the north and south, and tie into a large block of protected land within the West Quabbin region, an area identified as a priority for conservation because of its high ecological value and interconnected wildlife habitat. This project is part of the 10,000 acres conserved in the West Quabbin area over the last 20 years.
This project is supported by Kestrel’s Promise to the Valley campaign to help conserve 5,000 acres in the next five years.