While there are usually many benefits to conserving a parcel of land—including recreation, water quality, or carbon sequestration—wildlife habitat is often at the top of the list of benefits. This year, Kestrel’s conservation team is working on projects around the Valley that will support the biodiversity of our region, including a landscape-scale initiative that aims to permanently protect more than 1,000 acres of wild and working lands primarily in Southampton.
The Mountain Waters Project is named for Pomeroy Mountain, as well as the waters that flow through its surrounding forests, feeding the Manhan and Connecticut Rivers. Kestrel is working with multiple willing landowners to protect 1,054 acres over the next two years in Southampton and adjacent towns. We’ll be working with the Town of Southampton, Mass Audubon, and other partners supported by $1.25 million in funding from a MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Landscape Partnership Grant. Read more in this feature from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Two-thirds of the parcels to be conserved through this project are recognized by the science-based BioMap tool for providing Core Habitat and nearly 100% are designated as Critical Natural Landscape. (Learn more about what this means here.) These lands generally have high climate resilience and provide valuable landscape connectivity to intact forest blocks, as well as clean drinking water for the Tighe-Carmody Reservoir and Barnes Aquifer.
In collaboration with the Town of Southampton, Kestrel is working with several landowners to conserve multiple parcels, including:
- Smith Family Forest: 236 acres of BioMap Core Forest Habitat, which will be open to the public for passive recreation. Justin Smith, of Northampton, will place a Conservation Restriction held by Kestrel to preserve his family forest for future generations. When he was growing up in Huntington, Justin spent time fishing, camping, hiking and playing on this land that he acquired from his father in 2010. “This is an incredibly special place to me. It’s surrounded by thousands of acres of watershed land and state forest,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be working with Kestrel Land Trust to protect this land into the future.”
- Garfinkle-Minard Forest: 117 acres of BioMap Forest Core Habitat and Prime Forestland in the Town of Westhampton will be owned by Kestrel with a CR held by MassAudubon. An additional 157 acres in Southampton will be owned by the Town, with a CR held by Kestrel. This land ranked the highest for climate resiliency and provides valuable habitat connectedness and landscape diversity. A local naturalist documented a number of unique and rare plant species here.
- Pomeroy Mountain: A beloved and iconic landscape feature in Southampton, cared for by the Geryk family for generations, the Town has identified this area as a high conservation priority for more than 20 years. 150 acres on Pomeroy Mountain in Southampton and Westhampton will be conserved including the majority of its breathtaking summit.
- Glendale Ridge Vineyard: Known for its excellent wine and dramatic views, Glendale Ridge is a popular destination in Southampton. Owners Ed and Mary Hamel’s lands contribute to the scenic and agricultural character of the town. (The image at the top of this post shows the vineyard and its view of Mount Tom.) 77 acres of the vineyard and woodlands will be protected by Kestrel and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources. This project includes 53 acres of BioMap habitat—showing that farms are also a critical resource for wildlife.