Mass Audubon’s Advocacy department got to experience one of Massachusetts’ most beautiful – and threatened – natural places earlier this spring when Bob Wilber, Mass Audubon’s Director of Land Conservation, led a tour of Otis State Forest in Sandisfield.
In just one afternoon, we hiked through (400-year-old!) old growth forest, historic mill sites, and rare plant and animal habitat, ate our lunch on the shores of one of the most pristine and intact lakes in the state, and summited nearby Mount Baldy, recently conserved by Mass Audubon. Mass Audubon assisted the Department of Conservation and Recreation in acquiring much of the land within the Otis State Forest, which provided the link to connect more than 8,500 acres of open space.
Kinder Morgan has proposed to run their Connecticut Expansion natural gas pipeline through the area. Mass Audubon submitted a friend of the court brief supporting the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) in protecting the forest but the court denied her actions. We have encouraged the AG to appeal the decision. Seeing this special place in person renewed our sense of purpose and deepened our commitment to fighting proposed new pipeline projects in Massachusetts. Learn more about that work and the details on the major proposed projects.
Update: As of December 2016, AG Healey successfully negotiated for compensation to the state for conservation land taken by eminent domain during the construction of the Connecticut Expansion Project. The company will pay $640,000 to the state, and identify and acquire additional conservation land “that provides ecological functions equivalent to the land impacted by the pipeline” such as the nearly two miles of pipeline through pristine Otis State Forest.