Crowningshield Conservation Area Project

West Branch of the North River, Heath MA
West Branch of the North River, Heath MA

The Crowningshield Project is a first of its kind partnership with TU and the Franklin Land Trust to preserve close to a mile of pristine wild trout water on the headwaters of the West Branch of the North River in Heath, Massachusetts.  This project began when Josh Morse and Will Anderson from FLT were evaluating the property of Phyllis Crowningshield for a potential land trust acquisition. The criteria for FLT historically has been for the property in question to have forestry or agricultural value.

Cleanup Crew Crowningshield Fall 2015
Cleanup Crew Crowningshield Property – Fall 2015

The Crowningshield parcel came up short in both categories, and but for the diligence of Will and Josh, would likely have been declined for potential acquisition by the land trust. What they found in hiking the property was a pristine trout stream teeming with wild trout, solid riparian habitat and fields that had turned into prime upland game habitat. They realized that this property had value beyond just the standard forestry and agricultural criteria. FLT reached out to our chapter to see if we had interest in helping acquire this property to preserve this important headwater area. Realizing that the project was to large for our chapter as a single partner with FLT, our Board of Directors chose to bring this important project to the MA/RI Council of TU and the Greater Boston Chapter of TU for help.

To the credit of our colleagues at GBTU and the MA/RI Council, the importance of this project was recognized immediately.  Council President John Troiano  added the Crowningshield project to the agenda for the next Council meeting. The fast-tracking of Crowningshield was an important element as the owner/seller Phyllis Crowningshield had set a time limit for the deal to be completed.

$1,500 Check presented to Franklin Land Trust For Crowningshield Property
$1,500 Check presented to Franklin Land Trust For Crowningshield Property

At the Council meeting Will Anderson and Josh Morse  from FLT made an excellent presentation of the Crowningshield property and  the elements of the deal to the delegates that form the body of the MA/RI Council. The response from the Council body was overwhelming-all attending chapters save one voted to support the project and help raise the funds to meet the financial  benchmark.

Fast forward to April 2015 and of all of the hard work by the staff of FLT, the Deerfield River Watershed TU, Greater Boston TU, and the MA/RI Council has come to fruition. The Crowningshield property has been purchased by the Franklin Land Trust and will be preserved in perpetuity – with the conservation restriction (CR) held by the state of Massachusetts.

Crowingshield Conservation Area Dedication
Crowingshield Conservation Area Dedication

A celebration of this accomplishment  occured on Wednesday October 19th, 2016 at theCrowningshield Conservation Area site in Heath.  Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and Dept. of Fish and Game Commissioner George Peterson presented thoughtful comments along with TU members and representatives of the FLT.