When Mass Audubon acquired land adjacent to Lenox’s Kennedy Park in 1993, the ultimate aim was to swap it for a parcel just south of Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary along the western side of West Mountain Road.
This exchange as originally envisioned did not take place—but after 26 years, a slightly modified version has.
Mass Audubon and Lenox have worked closely together the last two years arranging the swap of two lots owned by Mass Audubon—east of West Mountain Road and adjacent to Kennedy Park—for the Lenox-owned "School Lot" on Yokun Ridge.
The Town of Lenox and the Board of Directors of Mass Audubon approved this transaction, and the exchange became official on February 21, 2019, when deeds were recorded at the Berkshire Middle Registry in Pittsfield.
Trail and land management along the Yokun Ridge from Bosquet to the Lenox Watershed lands will be coordinated with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC). The land exchange will help consolidate land ownerships for Mass Audubon and the Town, ensuring consistent protection of the ridgeline as well as appropriate recreational opportunities in Kennedy Park.
The two lots conveyed by Mass Audubon to Lenox are subject to Conservation Restrictions, one held by BNRC and the other held by the US Forest Service, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, and BNRC.
The 95-acre School Lot will fill a gap to the north and west in Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Tom Lautzenheiser, Mass Audubon Regional Scientist for Central and Western Massachusetts, notes that "this area’s complex topography, harsh climate along the ridgeline, relatively sheltered conditions on the (very steep) eastern slope, and shallow soils in much of the area combine to make a diverse, interesting, and basically intact system."