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Pioneer property plan to be presented Sunday

Recorder file photo
The entrance to Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield.

Recorder file photo The entrance to Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield.

BERNARDSTON — There are big plans for the Pioneer Valley Regional School property, and you can hear about them straight from the source Sunday.

John Lepore, a Bernardston resident and former Pioneer science teacher, has authored an all-encompassing plan for educational use and sustainable management of the 90-acre Pioneer grounds.

He will present his plan at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in the Bernardston Unitarian Church. The public is invited, and encouraged to come early for coffee and refreshments at 11.

Lepore, who earned his master’s degree in ecological restoration, planning and design after retiring from Pioneer, went on to found Future Lands Design. He volunteered 1,600 hours to write “Pioneering Stewardship: An Action Inspired Design.” Taking a little less than a year from start to finish, it was a full-time job for Lepore, who consulted with experts, school officials, teachers and students along the way.

Lepore’s plan was unanimously endorsed by the School Committee as a long-range plan for the property.

With the plan in place, the committee will seek grants and other funding to avoid using tax dollars.

The 132-page plan includes environment-focused sections like ecological restoration and storm-water management as well as chapters detailing educational opportunities like outdoor classrooms and wildlife viewing platforms, and identifies a possible site for solar-electric panels, among other things.

Lepore said the “chore” of removing invasive plants and preventing their return could be divided into class projects, building teamwork and a sense of stewardship among the students.

“Kids starting seventh grade could adopt a piece of land, and care for it for six years,” explained Lepore. “They’d really be able to see the results, and they’ll become attached to that piece of property.”

The former teacher said the property could pay for part of the plan, since part of it is due to be logged. Trees from a red pine grove that needs thinning could also be milled on-site and the lumber used to build the outdoor classrooms.

If you’d like to brush up on the plan before Sunday’s presentation, or are interested but unable to attend, you can view the plan in summary and full editions at www.issuu.com/johnlepore/docs, where you can also find other examples of Lepore’s work.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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