Easthampton’s Pascommuck Conservation Trust is adding 22 acres of extensive floodplain and upland forest to expand an existing conservation area.

Dec 23 2011
Published by under Easthampton, Hiking Trails

We have some happy end-of-the-year news. We are proud to announce our newest property acquisition, a 22 acre parcel off Paul St which is near near Glendale St. This property adjoins our 15 acre Pomeroy Meadows conservation area. Adding to existing protected areas is especially rewarding. This new acquisition will provide an opportunity to open up both of these properties to the public while keeping them protected. Extensive trail work will be required to enable safe crossing of the diverse terrain.

The property was acquired in part with funds from Easthampton’s CPA fund and PCTs own revolving fund for acquisitions. We will be starting a special campaign in the near future to cover the cost of purchasing this property and also to help pay for trail construction. Please contact Doug Wheat at doug_wheat@yahoo.com if you are interested in assisting with this effort.

The newly completed acquisition, between the Manhan River, Paul Street, and Ranch Avenue, adjoins a planned subdivision on the upland portion of the same parcel, belonging to the LaFond family. The protected land expands the Trust’s existing Pomeroy Meadow Conservation Area, which until now had no feasible access for visitors.

The Paul Street property boasts nearly a quarter-mile of frontage on the Manhan River, a chief focus of the Trust’s land protection efforts, as well as upland pine and hemlock forest, rich wetlands, and dramatic steep ‘dingles’ leading down to the floodplain. Almost the entire parcel is designated by the state as ‘Core Habitat’, among the Commonwealth’s most valuable natural areas.

The purchase was made possible by a $45,000 grant from Easthampton’s Community Preservation Fund (CPA), along with $15,000 from PCT’s own revolving account for land protection, which helped ensure that planned extensive logging was forestalled. The City of Easthampton will hold a conservation restriction on the property. A simultaneous acquisition of a trail easement from a neighboring landowner will assist trail construction.

The Trust is beginning work on fundraising for the purchase and for construction of a new trail network, which should provide public access to the new conservation land by fall 2012.

Patty Gambarini, a resident of the neighborhood and Pascommuck committee member leading the protection effort, remarked, “This is a wonderful area with lots to see, but the erodible soils and steep slopes, along with the sensitive habitat, mean a lot of work to make it safe for people to visit without damaging the natural resources.” She asked that everyone be patient and wait for the trails to open.

Doug Wheat, a board member working on the effort, thanked the LaFond family, developer David Garstka and realtor Bob Canon, as well as City planner Stuart Beckley, for their cooperation in permanently protecting the land.

“This was really a great model for early discussions between landowners, builders, and the conservation community, and the positive results that brings,” Wheat said. “Stuart helped connect everyone and by voicing our concerns early in the project we were able to work together to meet the community and the developer’s needs in a non-adversarial relationship.”

John Bator, president of PCT, remarked that this acquisition when combined with the Pomeroy Meadows Conservation area will protect nearly a mile of the Manhan River bank. “We are very excited to expand an existing conservation area to increase both the protection of the environment and increase public access.”

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