Land Conservation Project Adds 120 Acres to Lime Kiln Farm Sanctuary
Michael P. O'Connor
SHEFFIELD, MA.—Mass Audubon is increasing by half the size of its 240-acre Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse tracts of protected land in the southern Berkshires.
The state’s largest conservation nonprofit has worked with local landowners, the Housatonic River Natural Resource Damages Fund (HRNRDF), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to add almost 120 acres to the wildlife sanctuary in Sheffield, which will now total more than 360 acres.
Mass Audubon will be reimbursed nearly $460,000 by the Natural Resource Damages Fund to cover the purchase price of three parcels adjacent to the sanctuary as well as related acquisition costs. The HRNRDF is funded by General Electric, as part of the company’s mitigation agreement developed in the wake of pollution caused over generations by GE’s former manufacturing complex on the Housatonic in Pittsfield. The state DEP oversees fund disbursements.
Mass Audubon will also hold a Conservation Restriction on an additional 16.2 acres.
The acquired land is situated within a wetland habitat known locally as the Barnum Street Swamp and will further support groundwater protection, biodiversity, and passive recreation.
The limestone-dominated bedrock in the region supports a high diversity of plant and animal life; more than 500 species of rare plants and 50 butterfly species have been observed at the sanctuary, along with a broad variety of birds and mammals.
The acquisition also bolsters the connectedness of open space in Sheffield and southwestern Massachusetts. The closing took place March 1.
“In adding more than hundred acres to Lime Kiln Farm, we re-affirm our commitment to conserving ecologically important and biodiverse land in the Berkshires,” said Gail Yeo, Mass Audubon Vice President for Wildlife Sanctuaries and Programs. “And we extend our gratitude not only to the Housatonic River Natural Resource Damages Fund and Mass. DEP but also to the conservation-minded and far-sighted landowners who’ve helped make this project possible.”
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.