Tracy Brook in Richmond Is Newest Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary
Michael P. O'Connor
RICHMOND, MA.—Thanks to the generosity of a conservation-minded couple, Mass Audubon is pleased to announce the creation of the Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, newly protected land in Richmond that will support biodiverse wildlife corridors in the Berkshires.
The 21-acre property—Mass Audubon’s 100th wildlife sanctuary statewide—was donated to Mass Audubon by Dr. Richard and Patty Levy, whose links to the region were forged in childhood, when they independently attended summer camps in the Berkshires. Those bonds deepened as they met and married, and continued to return regularly to the region.
As a recently retired couple, the Levys last year purchased Camp Marion White on Richmond Lake, where they intend to build a single home.
Their purchase of the former Girl Scout camp included a beaver pond and marsh to the east of the lake across Swamp Road, and it is this wetlands habitat which the couple presented to Mass Audubon. An endowment for the property also has been established.
Tracy Brook, whose prominent natural features include two beaver dams and an active lodge as well as a heron rookery, is named for the stream that flows through the wildlife sanctuary before emptying into Richmond Lake. Bear, bobcat, and otter activity have been noted on the sanctuary, which is also used extensively by waterfowl.
“Before we ever knew that the property including what would become the Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary was available for purchase, my wife and I would take our guests to see the large number of great blue herons feeding their babies in the nests in the middle of the wetlands,” Rich Levy recalled. “Once we decided to purchase the property, one of our first priorities was to ensure both continued viability of this unique site, as well as its availability to the public for generations to come.
“We are hopeful that others will join us in making contributions to Mass Audubon,” he added, “so that they can bring this property to its full potential.”
John Keenum, President of the Richmond Land Trust, echoed Levy’s comments. “With the beaver pond and the rookery, this habitat has been just a very valuable resource, and protecting it helps link a lot of other open space,” said Keenum, whose organization is a member of a broader environmental community that supported the land protection effort. “And I’m ecstatic that Mass Audubon is going to be the steward of it.”
Mass Audubon President Gary Clayton noted that “the addition of Tracy Brook as our 100th wildlife sanctuary is a significant honor for us and furthers a longtime commitment to land conservation. But perhaps more important, the property’s sanctuary status will ensure that its habitats, and the animals and plants dependent upon them, will always be protected.
“We are especially grateful to the Levys, Katie and Paul Buttenwieser, and other environmentally committed residents for their generosity. We also appreciate the support of a now-deceased Mass Audubon friend who established a special fund for land conservation in the Berkshires,” Clayton added.
“And Mass Audubon salutes the Richmond Land Trust, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Sanctuary Committee member Ken Kelly, and other dedicated volunteers who’ve supported this project,” he said.
Presently, the public can stop at a vehicle pull-off along Swamp Road to enjoy expansive views of the sanctuary, including the beaver lodge and rookery. Mass Audubon plans to erect basic signage to identify the property as a wildlife sanctuary, with an eye to possible trail access and interpretive programs in the future.
Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.