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Who is the Trust for Public Land?

National nonprofit to protect Northfield forest

Recorder/Paul Franz
The Grandin Reservoir in East Northfield, which is the water source for the East Northfield Water Co.,  flows over the spillway.

Recorder/Paul Franz The Grandin Reservoir in East Northfield, which is the water source for the East Northfield Water Co., flows over the spillway.

NORTHFIELD — The protection of the Northfield Forest is the latest of many conservation projects organized by the Trust for Public Land.

The trust announced Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Northfield Mount Hermon School to keep the 1,650-acre Northfield Forest off the market. Also part of the agreement is the East Northfield Water Co., which serves more than 250 year-round customers, as well as about 63 seasonal homes. Both properties are legacies of the days the prep school operated campuses in Northfield as well as Gill.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit, focused on protecting open spaces for agriculture, conservation and recreation. Since it was founded in 1972, the trust has worked with other organizations to ensure the protection of at least 3 million acres of land in more than 5,200 projects, it says.

Unlike many land trusts, the Trust for Public Land isn’t interested in owning lands in the long-term. Instead, the group helps other organizations and individuals protect the lands that matter to them. The trust brings resources together to immediately protect at-risk properties and transitions them to long-term owners.

The trust works all across the country and has completed a handful of projects in the Pioneer Valley.

In 2010, the trust partnered with the city of Northampton to preserve two farms along the Mill River by way of an agricultural conservation restriction. Now, the former Bean and Allard farms are part of the Northampton Community Farm, a 121-acre parcel touted as the largest community farm in the state.

The trust also worked with neighboring Easthampton, as well as the Pascommuck Conservation Trust, to permanently protect Echodale Farm’s 165 acres of fields, forests, wetlands and streams in 2008.

In Hadley, the organization worked to protect 82 acres on the banks of the Fort River, which is part of the Connecticut River watershed. The trust worked with the Friends of Conte, a group that supports the mission of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, as well as other community groups. A later trust project added 24 more acres to the refuge.

The trust helped Holyoke group Nuestras Raices secure four acres of downtown farmland. Nuestras Raices formed in 1992 and created a downtown community farm in Holyoke on what used to be a vacant, trash- and crime-ridden lot.

For more on the Trust for Public Land, visit www.tpl.org.

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