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Letter: Threat to land trusts

The Rattlesnake Gutter Trust is a land trust dedicated to protecting natural and scenic areas of Leverett in balance with private property and community development. We do this primarily by purchasing and managing important conservation land, and by assisting Leverett landowners in protecting their property through conservation restrictions. RGT land purchases are supported by membership dues, fundraisers, and funds from local and state sources. Our intent and legal purpose, shared by the many individuals and entities that support our efforts, is to ensure that Leverett’s abundant natural capital remains intact in perpetuity, for the benefit of us today, all of our children tomorrow, and their descendants in the days beyond.

The proposed Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. natural gas pipeline that will run from New York state border across northern Massachusetts threatens conservation efforts by land trusts across the state. If TGP’s anticipated application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct the pipeline is authorized, TGP will be granted eminent domain rights to run a 30-inch high-pressure transmission pipeline and associated 50-foot service set-back through farmland, orchards, community-held conservation areas and state-owned lands, including state parks, forests and wildlife management areas. Though the current proposed route misses Leverett entirely, passing north of us through Montague, we are deeply concerned about the precedent that this project would establish: what if we saw a three-foot buried pipeline bearing down on the open fields and wetlands of East Leverett Meadow? RGT’s and Leverett’s shared purpose in investing in that property for wildlife habitat in perpetuity would be thwarted, ruined. Not us, but many like us face this prospect in the near future if the TGP pipeline as currently proposed cannot be re-directed or halted.

Our focus on this issue aligns with RGT’s stated purpose to protect natural landscapes. We believe that Kinder Morgan’s corporate interests should not supersede the clearly stated and acted-upon interests of many thousands of citizens who have created a healthy patchwork of protected land across this state through their financial contributions and their town meeting votes supporting land trusts like RGT. We join the many land and conservation trusts across the state opposing any new energy infrastructure that would cross legally conserved land in Massachusetts through the power of federally granted eminent domain.

JIMMY GROGAN and STEVE WEISS

on behalf of the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust

Leverett

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