On the southern side of Cold Spring Road in the Town of Sandisfield sits seven acres of ecologically rich land recently acquired by Mass Audubon from Donald and Mary Turek.
Part of the Minery Property
The Turek’s land is directly across the road from Mass Audubon’s Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary and is adjacent to a larger 173-acre parcel Mass Audubon has an opportunity to purchase, if we can raise the funds. These 180 acres, as well as 60 acres of the existing Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, once belonged to Robert Minery.
Mr. Minery sold the seven acres to the Turek family in 2004, and they are delighted to see it re-connected. Mary Turek commented, “It is always a pleasure to work with Mass Audubon. We are just happy to see that Mr. Minery had always had a soft spot for the audubon, and now this parcel will be part of the Cold Spring Rd. audubon property.”
Building a Bridge
Acquisition of this land eliminates possible development that would fragment the area, and helps form a bridge between the 770-acre Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to the north, the 6,616-acre Sandisfield State Forest to the south, and the 6,600-acre Otis State Forest to the west.
This type of connection is a key response to climate change. As temperatures rise, plants and animals will be on the move – searching for hospitable landscapes in which to live. This particular area is a high priority within the Berkshire Wildlife Linkage of Western Massachusetts, the goal of which is to connect the Green Mountains in Vermont to the Hudson Highlands of New York
The Fischer family has generously donated their
3-acre property in Sandisfield, along the western side of Cold Brook Wildlife
Sanctuary, to Mass Audubon.
Steve, Douglas, Cynthia, and Janet Fischer are part of an extended family, the Johnsons, who have owned this land for almost 100 years. This parcel in Sandisfield was originally part of a larger land holding that the Johnson family purchased in 1922.
The Johnsons lived in Connecticut and used this property primarily for logging. According to the Sandisfield Times (Dec. 2014): “Alvin Johnson, a Swedish immigrant then living in the New Haven area, acquired from Edmund Strickland two sprawling former farms on Beech Plain Road.” The Johnsons added two small cottages across the street from each other—one in 1924 and the other in 1930.
The donated land is located on the easterly side of Beech Plain Road and fills a gap in the protection of the wildlife sanctuary (as shown in the map below).
Douglas Fischer wrote,
“The land holds so many memories for my mother, Eleanor Viola Johnson Fischer. She lived in the two-story white farm house across and down the street from the land we donated…Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a lumberman. In the histories of the area, their home is sometimes referred to as The Strickland Farm. It was built in 1785 and was a stopover for the Underground Railroad. She remembers going to school at The Little Red School House, harvesting blueberries, caring for their two dairy cows and playing with her older sister Evelyn. This donated piece of land was a gift to her and Evelyn from their father. It was passed on to myself and my brother, Steve. As we live in the Midwest we are unable to use it and are delighted that it will be preserved. We trust that under Mass Audubon’s stewardship many future generations of birds and animals will enjoy the same wild blueberries and protected environment that brought joy to our mother’s heart.”