Preservation of Holyoke’s Mountain Range Text Size

The Holyoke Mountain range is one of the state’s most ecologically significant landscapes. From a biological perspective, Holyoke exists at the crossroad of New England’s coastal and highland ecosystems. These features combine with the underlying geology of the City and the Connecticut River to create a wealth of ecological and biological diversity that is uncommon for a City of Holyoke’s size. The City’s history of planning for watershed needs and stewardship legacy have resulted in the preservation of more than 32 percent of the City’s total land area. This gives the Citizens of Holyoke an exceptional wealth of scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Public & private land organizations, businesses, and individual citizens have worked to make the City’s landscape a component of Holyoke’s quality of life.

Forging strategic preservation partnerships that lead to land conservation agreements are a key component of the City’s ongoing efforts to preserve drinking water supplies. The Barnes Aquifer serves as the sole source for homes in West Holyoke with private water wells. Preservation of the landscape of Mt. Tom and East Mountain will help to preserve the Barnes Aquifer in the following way:

Broad Brook serves as one of the main tributaries to this aquifer. The hydrological regime affiliated with the flow of this brook affects the quality and quantity of the underlying groundwater in the vicinity of this brook. Preserving the forested landscape around Broad Brook acts as a giant filter that stores water, scrubs out pollutants and helps to provide clean drinking water. These ecosystem services are irreplaceable and land conservation can help to secure them for current and future generations.

Additionally, the City is actively working to preserve drinking water supply watersheds. Recently, the City has permanently protected the headwaters of Broad Brook by selling a small parcel that contains its headwaters to Mass Fish and Game. This small step is a key indicator of how the City of Holyoke is serious about partnering in the preservation of its cherished scenic lands and drinking water supplies.

“The City would very much like to be responsive to the wishes that were identified in 2012 when we developed the Open Space and Recreation Plan, which means that we are actively identifying landscape preservation opportunities both inside of the community and outside of the community,” Conservation Director Andrew Smith said.

The recent gift of $350,000 to the Kestrel Land Trust will allow the city to engage in conversation with institutional and individual landowners. Knowing that there is a lot of interest in preserving land, the City can help find partners that attract these owners to consider preserving their properties.

Through collaboration, Holyoke’s elected officials, municipal departments and its larger community developed a solid Open Space Plan. That and a demonstrated track record of recent success – allow the city to work with organizations like the Kestrel Land Trust to conserve those portions of the landscape that people value.

“From a planning perspective, this is an exciting time. We’ve had some preliminary conversations with Kestrel and there are a few parcels that we have begun to talk about and with any luck we’ll be able to pull the right parties together to conserve them. Let’s find some partners!” Andrew Smith said.

Posted on December 5, 2013 by