Charlie Wyman, Senior Land Protection Specialist
Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) has proposed upgrades to their transmission lines running from Connecticut through Agawam and Chicopee to Ludlow. Work associated with the upgrade will result in some impacts on wetlands and rare species habitat along the route, requiring that the company obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mass. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Those two agencies, seeking to mitigate the impacts that cannot be avoided altogether, are requiring WMECO to permanently protect wetlands and rare species habitat in two locations in the town of Agawam just west of Springfield.
Why are we telling you this? WMECO has asked Mass Audubon to hold the conservation restrictions that will permanently protect these areas, a total of about 65 acres. The properties are highly deserving of protection, with multiple designations related to ecological value and rare species.
We have had several bargaining sessions, hammering out language that will ensure meaningful protection for the land while allowing WMECO to use it for electrical transmission. We are closing in on our goal, and if all goes well, the conservation restrictions will go to record sometime this spring.