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Founded in 1970, the Kestrel Land Trust is a land conservation organization based in Amherst which works to conserve farmland, forests, fields and rivers from development in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Like most land trusts, the Kestrel Land Trust depends on private donors to leverage state money. By working with landowners, town conservation commissions, state agencies, and other land trusts Kestrel has conserved thousands of acres in the region they serve.1
Merger with Valley Land Fund
In the Spring of 2011, Kestrel merged with the Valley Land Fund, another land trust based in Northampton, Massachusetts. As part of the merger, Kestrel expanded its service area range from nine to nineteen towns in order to include those areas served by Valley Land Fund.
5K Run for Farmland
The Kestrel Land Trust annually hosts a 5K run and 2 Mile walk in late October to fundraise for land conservation. Racers begin on the Hadley Commons area and then run a fast, flat course through historic Hadley farmland before ending once again on the Commons. Prizes donated by local businesses are given to the overall male and female winners, as well as the winners of each age group.
In 2011, the event was expanded to include a farmer's market and festival following the race. Approximately 10 local farmers and artisans set up booths and sold their goods, while local Irish-music band Banish Misfortune played. Additionally, the US Fish and Wildlife Service presented their family-friendly Watershed on Wheels educational exhibit and Tom Ricardi showed rehabilitated birds. Over 500 people ran or shopped at the 2011 5K for Farmland and Farmer's Market Festival.
Brushy Mountain Conservation Restriction
On December 23, 2011, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs(EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. announced that 3,486 acres owned by W.D. Cowls, Inc. would be protected through a conservation restriction. This land conservation deal, arranged by the Kestrel Land Trust with partners Department of Fish and Game (DFG), Franklin Land Trust, and W.D. Cowls, Inc. is the largest land protection deal done in Massachusetts since the 1920s and the largest conservation restriction ever done in the state. This Conservation Restriction will guarantee public access for recreation, conserve wildlife habitat, and promote sustainable forestry.
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