A New Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary for the Berkshires!
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On December 23, 2016, the deed to the new Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Richmond was recorded. Tracy Brook—which includes 21 acres of wetlands and a nature trail—was donated to Mass Audubon by Rich and Patty Levy. The property is primarily a ponded area created by a beaver dam on Tracy Brook. Evidence of beaver activity on the site goes back to 1971. Earliest maps show the property as undeveloped, surrounded by woods and farmland.
Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary provides a special place for viewing all sorts of wildlife, including birds, beavers and otters. This property was previously owned by the Berkshire Hills Girl Scout Council and, with the adjacent property across Swamp Road, used for years as a campsite and nature center known as Camp Marion White.
A couple recently purchased the lakeside property and donated the portion containing the 21-acre beaver pond to Mass Audubon. Rich and Patty Levy have lived for the past 20 years in the Wilmington, Delaware, area. They came to the Berkshires independently as kids and, after they met, started coming up each summer.
Following their retirement last year, they decided to look for property in or near Berkshire County on a lake. They were familiar with the heron rookery, stopping frequently on the side of the road with binoculars. As members of Mass Audubon, they enjoy the challenge of hiking to the top of the mountain at Pleasant Valley. Eventually, they decided to purchase the house and donate the rookery on Swamp Road to Mass Audubon to assure the preservation of the property and continued access by the community.
Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary gives Mass Audubon an opportunity to preserve an ecologically significant and locally popular natural area. Additionally, it has the potential to connect with Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary trails, which would provide educational programming and wildlife viewing areas.
The Township of Richmond was a strong partner in its support for conserving this area and making it available to the public. The Berkshire Environmental Action Team and other volunteers explored the property to look at the beaver dam and find active signs of wildlife activity.
In addition, generous donations from individuals have helped to start a stewardship fund for the property.