A land trust in Sheffield, Massachusetts is holding a trail and property cleanup day Saturday.
Kathy Orlando is the executive director for land protection at the Sheffield Land Trust.
“We work to protect land that’s important to the whole rural character of Sheffield – so the agricultural land, the wildlife areas, the scenic, the historic within the town of Sheffield,” she told WAMC.
Created in 1989, the trust protects over 5,000 acres of land in the Berkshire town of just over 3,000 – including 18 farms.
“We own around 400 acres that we steward in terms of – some of that’s farmland, some of it’s mountainside, some of it’s trails,” said Orlando.
It also works with private entities and other conservation groups.
“With the conservation restrictions, what we do is we monitor that every year to make sure that the terms are being upheld, because when we work with a family that’s a promise that forever we will make sure that their vision for that property is protected, it stays that way," explained Orlando. "And then we’ve helped other organizations and other conservation agencies to protect another close to 1,000 acres.”
Saturday morning, the Sheffield Land Trust is calling on volunteers to help spruce up one of its properties.
“Ashley Falls Woods is just over 30 acres that we bought a number of years ago,” said Orlando.
The trust raised about $315,000 to purchase the woods from the Schneck family after the landowner died.
“They said because it was in the estate, they couldn’t donate it, but they thought it was worth protecting,” said the trust's executive director for land protection.
The woods lie on the west side of Route 7A in the village of Ashley Falls – a community within Sheffield right on the state line with Connecticut. Orlando says the public was enthusiastic about making the property a part of the trust.
“It’s not even a quarter mile from the village center of Ashley Falls, right where the post office is," said Orlando. "People are always there. There’s a bunch of houses with people with kids and all the different kind of ages who are there.”
“We’re an agricultural and natural, woods sort of place," said Neal Chamberlain. "The population is a mixture of old timers and city people who come up for the second home joys of the area.”
Chamberlain, who lives in the village, is the onsite coordinator for the Ashley Falls Woods.
“This weekend, we’re having our semi-annual trail maintenance and beating back the brush, keeping the wilderness from taking it over,” he told WAMC.
He’s says he’s been volunteering for the land trust for around 20 years.
“We deal with the various invasive that have grown up over the years on this property, and we clear the trails so they’re easy to find and we do all sorts of – well, there’s some trash," laughed Chamberlain. "Years ago… there’s treasure, shall we say, buried treasures from the generation before we periodically pull out old water tanks and stuff like that. So that’s our focus this weekend.”
The rain or shine event kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Ashley Falls Woods parking lot. Volunteers should dress warmly with work gloves, and can bring shears, weed whackers, and other implements to aid in the cleanup.