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Holyoke, MA – May 21, 2013 – On Saturday May 18th hikers, conservationists, naturalists, community leaders, and outdoor enthusiasts gathered at Lake Bray in Mt. Tom State Reservation to celebrate the opening of the new Woodland Trail, connecting the park to Little Tom Reservation, a 73-acre property managed by The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) which is adjacent to Mt. Tom. The opening of the trail connection will allow visitors to access an additional 2 miles of new trail that staff, volunteers, and the Trustees’ Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps have been building over several years at Little Tom.
Trustees’ Superintendent Josh Knox, who is responsible for the management of the property, says that “The new trail is the product of hundreds of hours of work by caring folks volunteering their time. On this trail as throughout our organization, we truly could not function without the help of people rolling up their sleeves and pitching in on behalf of the land.”
The Mount Tom Range, which includes both Little Tom and the State Reservation, is an iconic feature in the landscape of the Pioneer Valley which is also home to a large diversity of plants and animals, some rare and protected. The property at Little Tom that is now open to hikers includes a managed field area, woodland habitat, a scenic vista point, and a vernal pool that teems with life in the spring. It is a favorite spot of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, who take an annual spring trip to see Juniper Hairstreaks, an uncommon species in the Commonwealth. Julie Richburg, Regional Ecologist for The Trustees described the new hike, “The new woodland trail goes through hardwood-hemlock forest with several rock outcrops and patches of grassy openings. These habitats support many bird and other wildlife species.”
Saturday’s event was a milestone in on-going partnership between The Trustees and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to provide more access to healthy, natural spaces in Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley. Joanna Ballantine, Regional Director for The Trustees, Jen Soper, Land Protection Specialist for DCR, and State Representative Aaron Vega all spoke at the event about the efforts of the many organizations in Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley that are working to conserve ecologically significant land, open public recreational access to more sites, and engage people of all ages in the outdoors. Also speaking that day was Pat McDonagh, volunteer with The Trustees and wife of the late David Sigelman, in whose honor the new trail was built and dedicated.
The Little Tom property parcel was preserved by The Trustees in 2002 as part of a larger, 396-acre conservation project in partnership with DCR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club.
About Little Tom Reservation
In 2002, four entities – The Trustees of Reservations, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club – joined together to acquire and protect the 396 acre Mt. Tom ski area on the eastern slope of Mt. Tom. The successful acquisition yielded a cooperative management approach of the former ski area. With the closure of the quarry on Little Tom in 2012, the partners are now able to begin to form a collective vision for property use and public access.
About the Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest, statewide land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation organizations. We were founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891 to “hold in trust” and care for properties, or “reservations,” of scenic, cultural, and natural significance for current and future generations to enjoy. Supported by more than 100,000 members and donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 110 spectacular reservations located on more than 26,000 acres throughout Massachusetts. Our reservations range from working farms, historic homesteads and gardens, to community parks and barrier beaches, and include five National Historic Landmarks and a National Natural Landmark. Working to engage and activate people and communities in our mission, we offer hundreds of annual outreach programs, workshops, and events for all ages. Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, we are an established leader in the conservation and preservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. One of the largest nonprofits in Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 150 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in cultural resources, land protection, education, ecology, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more or to become a member or volunteer, please visit www.thetrustees.org.