Land Conservation Advances Amid Challenges

Efforts to conserve wildlife habitats and open space reached a milestone in Massachusetts. But sites that are most attractive to builders can be the hardest to purchase and protect.

Atop picturesque Maple Hill on a sunny morning, activists, officials, and avid sportsmen gathered to note the two hundred thousandth acre now designated in the state with a conservation restriction that will prevent any future development on the land. 
 
The newly conserved land was down the hill and across the street. As for the site of the celebration, with its sweeping backdrop…
 
“This piece of land is not conserved yet.”
 
That’s Narain Schroeder of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, who says the land that was conserved is less desirable to developers and thus more affordable. 
 
Brian Hawthorne of Mass Wildlife says the demand  for scenic views like this one means open space is always under threat.
“Once you build a house on a piece of land, that house is there forever, and it’s lost as wildlife habitat. If we had not protected the land across the street its very likely that it would have been sold off to a developer and there would be a dozen house lots in there or three or four larger house lots,” Hawthorne says.
 
Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has spent $64 million to acquire and conserve 40,000 acres of land.