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The Trustees of Reservations Aim to Protect Bottass Farm

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Kristi Perry
Public Relations Manager

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The Trustees of Reservations Aim to Preserve & Protect
Scenic, Working Shady Maple Farm in Salisbury, CT
$145,000 Needed to Help Complete Project

Ashley Falls, MA – February 13, 2009 – “I really want to protect this farm,” said farm owner John Bottass, looking across a field of winter rye to the Housatonic River at the edge of his land.  Bottass, 70, has been working his neatly run, 77-acre Shady Maple Farm on Weatogue Road in Salisbury, CT since 1966, often with the help of his two sons. Facing retirement, he approached The Trustees of Reservations, who own and manage the adjacent Bartholomew’s Cobble Reservation in Sheffield, Massachusetts, for help in conserving his land.  If The Trustees can secure the final $145,000 needed, they will be able to purchase a conservation easement (i.e., restriction) on the land this spring, permanently protecting it from further development while still enabling Bottass to own and farm the land.

“We were just thrilled when we got the call,” said Rene Wendell, The Trustees’ conservation ranger for Bartholomew’s Cobble.  “John’s farm stretches a mile along the river – a stretch where we see bald eagles on our canoe trips – and the tip of our Spero Trail has an amazing view across his fields with the river and the mountains as a backdrop.  It’s a really important piece of land to protect.”

“What has been most inspiring as we work to protect this land is the generous support we have received from community members and fellow conservation organizations,” added Lee Alexander, community conservation specialist with The Trustees.  “The Salisbury Association Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut Farmland Trust, the Sheffield Land Trust, the Housatonic Valley Association and Greenprint have all assisted in one way or another.  We are all passionate about protecting the incredibly scenic farmland and rich historical, cultural and ecological legacy of the Housatonic Valley, and we can conserve that landscape more effectively by working together.”  The beauty of this river valley was immortalized by author Hal Borland and has remained largely unchanged since his last New York Times editorial nearly 30 years ago. 

“The Salisbury Association Land Trust is delighted that The Trustees of Reservations will protect John Bottass’ Shady Maple Farm, which provides great ecological, agricultural and scenic benefits to our town,” offered George Massey, who co-chairs the land trust with Lou Hecht.  “The Land Trust and many Salisbury residents are glad that we have been able to help.”

Henry Talmage, Executive Director of Connecticut Farmland Trust, added, "The Connecticut Farmland Trust commends John Bottass and The Trustees of Reservations for permanently protecting Shady Maple Farm.  Their vision and tenacity will ensure that this scenic working farm will remain an important part of the agricultural heritage in northwest Connecticut."

"In protecting Shady Maple Farm from the modern pressures of development, the Trustees are carrying forward a tradition of stewardship long practiced by the farming community in the Berkshires,” said Jason Miner, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program.  “Wise agricultural stewardship along the Housatonic River in places like Shady Maple Farm has helped protect remnants of the river’s floodplain forests, which are a particularly important to migrating songbirds. The river in this area is amazingly dynamic – rising in the spring, overflowing its banks and replenishing the soils of the floodplain and the unique mix of species that comprise floodplain forests."

“John Bottass has been a great friend to the Cobble,” said Wendell. “For years now, John has partnered with us on managing the Cobble’s hayfields for the benefit of both breeding bobolinks and agricultural productivity.”  Bobolinks, birds that need large, open grasslands, have declined in recent decades due to shrinking habitat and early mowing schedules.

Bartholomew’s Cobble was designated a National Natural Historic Landmark in 1971 and enjoys thousands of visitors annually.  Supported and cared for by local members, volunteers and donors, the reservation is home to more than 700 different plant species and an astounding array of birds, mammals and natural habitat types.  Visitors from near and far enjoy panoramic views of the Housatonic River Valley and the chance to spot migrating hawks, bald eagles and a variety of spring wildflowers.  Highlights of the Cobble’s frequent guided canoe trips include river otter, wood ducks, floodplain forests, mink, and bank swallows nesting in the steep silt banks of the meandering Housatonic.  In total, the Cobble supports more than 250 species of nesting and migrating birds, plus one of the most diverse collections of ferns in North America. 

Contributions toward the protection of Shady Maple Farm may be sent to: The Trustees of Reservations, c/o Bartholomew’s Cobble, P.O. Box 128, Ashley Falls, 01222.

The Trustees of Reservations in the Berkshires
In the Berkshires, The Trustees of Reservations welcomes the public to experience and enjoy thirteen special places, including:  Naumkeag, Bartholomew’s Cobble, the Mission House, Field Farm, Mountain Meadow Preserve, Ashintully Gardens, Tyringham Cobble, and the Ashley House.  Reliant on dedicated staff, volunteers, members and donors, The Trustees works to raise community awareness around the importance of preserving exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological landscapes; to interpret the stories that emerge from our local history and define our community character; to sustain local farms and natural resources; and to offer our visitors top notch outdoor experiences.  For The Trustees Berkshires regional office, please call 413.298.3239

More about The Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts
A member-, donor- and endowment-supported organization,, The Trustees are 100,000 people like you, who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Since their founding by open space visionary, Charles Eliot, in 1891, The Trustees have “held in trust,” and cared for special places throughout the Commonwealth called "reservations.” 

From working farms and community supported agriculture programs, to historic homesteads, formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, and mountain vistas, The Trustees own and care for 100 spectacular reservations located on 25,000 acres in 70 communities throughout Massachusetts.  All reservations are open for the public to enjoy and provide hundreds of year-round programs, workshops and events, most of which are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members. 

In addition to managing its extensive reservation system, The Trustees also hold conservation restrictions on more than 16,000 acres of privately owned land and have worked with communities and other conservation partners around the state to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres.  As land is being developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace around the state, time is running out to save the best of Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks.  To find out how you can protect an special place in your community and/or become a Trustee through volunteer, donor or member contributions, please call 781.784.0567, visit, or email


Contact Information

Kristi Perry
Public Relations Manager

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The Trustees is a 501c3 nonprofit organization
Est. 1891