Flagg Mtn. preserved for public
The preserved view of Flagg Mountain in Conway as seen from Route 2 in Shelburne from the parking lot of Gould’s Sugarhouse.
The view from Flagg Mountain in Conway includes Mount Monadnock, through the haze at upper left, and Route 2 and the First Congregational Church of Shelburne’s steeple, at lower right.
Mary Griffin, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, announces the Flagg Mountain Wildlife Management area preserving an prominent ridgeline from development. A clearing, originally a house lot, provides views from Shelburne Falls village to Mount Monadnock in N.H.
CONWAY — At 1,402 feet above Route 2, state and local leaders overlooked 160 acres of the new Flagg Mountain Wildlife Management Area on Friday afternoon.
The scenic swath of green mountain hilltops was acquired by the state Department of Fish and Game and its Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for $850,000 to protect wildlife and aquatic habitats while at the same time preserving the scenic view from the Mohawk Trail.
The land acquisition has helped to create a wildlife corridor of more than 580 acres.
The new wildlife management area neighbors another 330 acres managed by the New England Forestry Foundation, which connects to the 93-acre Buckland State Forest.
The property is home to a variety of wildlife and plants, including white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, wild turkey, red fox, mountain columbine and songbirds.
“This is a great investment of public funds to protect this important land,” said state Rep. Stephen Kulik. “You can imagine the change in the area if it was fully developed. It would dramatically alter West County. You can’t protect everything but there are some lands that are critically important.”
Kulik joined several county, state and federal partners who teamed up to make the land deal possible.
The Franklin Regional Council of Governments first wrote the grant application for $850,000 from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program.
The National Scenic Byways Program funds byway-related projects each year as part of its grant program.
The lush land and scenic hilltops overlooking western Franklin County was originally pegged for a 25-lot housing development. A patch of land was cut out from the hillside and a dirt road was made leading up to the mountain.
“One day I was coming down Route 2 and I knew something was afoot on Flagg Mountain,” recalled Richard Hubbard, executive director of the Franklin Land Trust. “Someone said we wouldn’t be able to see the houses, but I saw this patch designed for a housing lot. I said we’re looking at a disaster in West County.”
So to maintain the property’s scenic views and wildlife habit, and views from Route 2, in April the Franklin Land Trust acquired the property from private owners, Wesley and Annette Rowe.
The process took four years of conversations with the property owners.
While the original asking price for the land four years ago was $5 million, the land trust bought it for $850,000 and donated it to the state Department of Fish and Game.
The Department of Fish and Game promotes conservation of the state’s natural resources. It carries out its mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management and ecological restoration of fresh and salt water.
The land is now preserved for the public.
“I felt strongly about allowing the public access on this property,” said Hubbard.
Federal congressional leaders also had a hand in the acquisition.
This year after the federal sequestration took effect, Mary Griffin, the Department of Fish and Game commissioner, said the $850,000 grant from the federal Highway Administration was in jeopardy. But after notifying Congressmen Richard Neal and Jim McGovern and the former Congressman John Olver’s offices, the federal leaders helped acquire the grant in time.
Griffin said Natalie Blais, who works in McGovern’s Northampton office and previously worked in Olver’s office, was instrumental in helping with the grant funding.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.