Effort of three neighbors conserves 420 acres in Ashfield

  • Lodges Pond in Ashfield is part of 420 acres of land conserved by three neighbors with the help of the Franklin Land Trust. Contributed Photo/Robert Jonas

Staff Report
Published: 3/4/2021 3:20:52 PM

ASHFIELD — The efforts of three neighbors have resulted in the conservation of 420 acres of land in the area of Barnes, Bailey and Phillips roads.

Most recently, 30 acres of forestland on Phillips Road were conserved late last year by Ray Damato with the help of the Franklin Land Trust.

“This parcel is the icing on the cake,” Franklin Land Trust Land Protection Specialist Emily Boss said in a press release from the conservation nonprofit. “The conservation of the Damato parcel is a testament to the power of working together to accomplish a common goal.”

Damato said in the release that conservation was always his motivation when he acquired the land in 1997.

“There is nothing worse than a broken-up landscape to discourage wildlife,” he said.

According to the Franklin Land Trust, continuous habitats are critical for wildlife, as they allow them to find food, shelter and clean water.

Damato’s land joins the 239 acres on Phillips Road acquired over time by neighbor Robert Jonas and his, wife Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, who eventually conserved it with the help of the Franklin Land Trust.

It was the Jonas’ efforts that inspired Ron and Nina Coler to conserve 17 acres at risk of development along Barnes Road in 2004.

“I used to run up and down Barnes Road every morning,” said Nina Coler, a Franklin Land Trust board member. “I saw so much wildlife on that road: mink, fisher, bobcat — you name it. These animals need miles of unfragmented land. As a group of concerned neighbors, we could make sure they had that.”

The release states that a few years later, in 2007, the Colers conserved 134 acres of their land on Bailey Road for wildlife habitat, carbon storage and public access to trails.

Damato said protecting his land has an even greater impact, given that it combines the efforts of his neighbors.

“It was my pleasure to add my effort to the efforts of my neighbors,” he said.

Boss called it “kitchen table conservation.”

“This kind of ‘kitchen table conservation’ is how small land protection projects become large scale,” she said. “People reaching out to their neighbors equals large-scale conservation.”

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