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 protects more than 38,000 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's 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 135,000 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 www.massaudubon.org.