MacLeish Field Station
Tucked up in the hills of West Whately, far from Smith College’s main campus in the City of Northampton, is the Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station.
The hilltop forest and farmland owned by the College offers a place for students and faculty to conduct environmental research, outdoor education, or to simply enjoy a walk in the woods. In 2013, Smith College donated a conservation restriction on 190 acres to Kestrel, and in 2016 the College donated an additional 20 acres, ensuring that those uses will continue, while protecting wildlife habitat for the future.
“This conservation agreement sets in stone Smith’s good intentions now and into the future,” said Andrew Guswa, director of Smith’s Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability (CEEDS). “Protecting the MacLeish land is a way of demonstrating Smith’s leadership in environmental sustainability.”
The MacLeish Field Station also includes the Bechtel Environmental Classroom, which was designed for Smith by Coldham and Hartman Architects to meet the Living Building Challenge, the highest standard for ecological design in the world. This Conservation Restriction on 210 acres of the Field Station far exceeds the land conservation component of the Living Building Challenge protocol.
The MacLeish Field Station is part of a critical contiguous block of forest identified by the Nature Conservancy as a “resilient” landscape: an area that has the potential to support a wide diversity of plants and wildlife as they adapt to climate change in the future. Adjacent lands protected by the Northampton Watershed Department, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Conway State Forest, and Franklin Land Trust create a large block of protected forest totaling over 5,000 acres.
For Kestrel, the conservation of the MacLeish Field Station also marked an important milestone for our land trust’s efforts to partner with the Five Colleges to advance land conservation in the Valley. Robert Jonas, Kestrel’s Board Chair said, “Kestrel is honored to be invited by Smith College to become a steward of their land. Together, we can ensure the conservation and stewardship of forest habitat, encourage ecologically responsible education and research, and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture.”