History of Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

PV early history - visitors birding on hill

In 1929, the Roadside Committee of the Lenox Garden Club purchased the Powers and Crockett Farms to create the 300-acre Pleasant Valley Bird and Wild Flower Sanctuary. A young man from Boston—Maurice Broun—worked tirelessly to create a sanctuary from scratch, laying out trails (most still in use today) and erecting hundreds of bird nest boxes. The idea took hold almost immediately as 4,000 people visited in 1930.

On October 7, 1932, a momentous event occurred when Sanctuary Warden Morris Pell re-introduced beavers to the valley. Today, the sanctuary's beaver colony is among its most "watchable wildlife." Subsequent sanctuary directors and staff members implemented ecological inventories, research projects, and especially nature education beginning in the early 1940s. 

An award-winning school outreach program still flourishes today. Alvah Sanborn, who served for 27 years, founded Pleasant Valley's popular natural history day camp in 1947.

Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries

Mass Audubon acquired Pleasant Valley by gift in 1950. During the next three decades, the sanctuary's education program attained new heights as a succession of Mass Audubon teacher naturalists left a lasting impression on the area's youth. The 1980s and 90s saw the addition of 600 acres, bringing Pleasant Valley’s total land base to 1,300 acres.

In the intervening time, two new wildlife sanctuaries in the Berkshires came under Pleasant Valley's management—Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield and Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield. Today, the Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries collectively protect over 3,400 acres of land across the county.

Celebrating 90 Years

Since 1929, Pleasant Valley has inspired the conservationists of tomorrow and educated our community to protect our environment. Support and engagement through our 90th Anniversary Celebration makes it possible for us to continue:

  • expanding the reach and impact of our Berkshire Environmental Literacy Program (BEL) to cultivate the next generation of leaders in natural resource conservation and improve science learning outcomes
  • increasing our intern program to provide additional opportunities for Berkshire County high school and college aged students to gain real world experience and job skills for future employment
  • connecting visitors to the natural world through exploration of the sanctuary’s ponds, forest, and meadows with skilled naturalists
  • facilitating healthy, outdoor activities for families to participate in together that strengthen positive family relationships
  • protecting the land and water in the Berkshires that sustain us physically, mentally and emotionally
  • managing essential habitats for local flora and fauna