Mass Audubon seeking donations to protect Patten Hill land in Shelburne

  • Mass Audubon plans to purchase 67 acres of land to fully protect Patten Hill in Shelburne. The land has views of Mount Greylock to the west, Mount Tom to the south, Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire to the northeast and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the north. Staff File Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2020 6:52:05 PM

SHELBURNE — Mass Audubon is seeking to purchase 67 acres of land to fully protect Patten Hill.

The conservation nonprofit, however, must raise $442,000 to purchase the land before a January deadline, according to Kate Buttolph, the Western Massachusetts land specialist at Mass Audubon.

The 67 acres would be the remaining hilltop acres for the nonprofit to acquire, having already purchased 167 acres of the property in 2016.

The purchase of the farmland at Patten Hill is part of Mass Audubon’s campaign, The Future is in Our Lands, which aims to protect 4,000 acres of undeveloped land, Buttolph explained. If it is not preserved, the land could be sold and developed.

“Thanks to the pandemic, there’s an increased pressure on open land,” Buttolph said. “People are buying lots and building houses.”

According to Mass Audubon, protecting the total 4,000 acres will help to offset emissions of more than 90,000 vehicles each year, provide storage for 250 million gallons of floodwaters from extreme rain events, and help generate clean drinking water for more than 20,000 people by preserving natural filtration systems.

The 67 acres on Patten Hill, which previously featured an orchard and a farm before the current owners used it for hay, will be maintained by Mass Audubon for a bird habitat by mowing it at appropriate times.

“The grassland bird habitat has dwindled,” Buttolph said, adding that both grass and bird habitats have decreased as a result of development pressure.

Purchasing the farmland would also safeguard the drinking water supply, maintain an increasingly rare grassland habitat, enhance the public trail system and preserve “outstanding views” to and from the property.

The land has views of Mount Greylock to the west, Mount Tom to the south, Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire to the northeast and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the north.

If acquired, the property would connect the 792 acres at High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary with the 574-acre Shelburne Falls Fire District land and the 221-acre Davenport Farm, according to Mass Audubon.

Bob Wilber, Mass Audubon’s director of land conservation, described the Patten Hill project as “a remarkable opportunity to effect positive landscape-scale change in one of the most beautiful and biodiverse regions of the commonwealth.”

Donations toward the campaign to raise money for the Patten Hill purchase can be made at bit.ly/320moB5 or by contacting Liz Albert at 781-259-2104.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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