The Franklin Land Trust (FLT) has been devoted to conserving western Massachusetts’ natural beauty—the farms, woods, rivers, and mountains—for over 28 years. We own land for the public to enjoy, and help farmers and landowners conserve their land with conservation restrictions and agricultural preservation restrictions that prevent future development while continuing active agriculture, forestry, and recreation on the property. FLT is proud to have helped conserve thousands of acres of productive farmland throughout the region.
One of the most prominent threats to several farms in our region is the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline, carrying fracked gas from Pennsylvania through NY, into MA and NH, and then back into MA. The proposed pipeline is problematic for a number of reasons, but the proposed route is what FLT and other land trusts are most concerned about. Rather than building along existing pipeline routes, or expanding existing pipe capacity, this new route would involve eminent domain takings of 522 parcels of land, including 35 parcels that are permanently conserved or owned by a public conservation agency. The route also crosses several active, productive farms like Hawk’s Farm in Shelburne, currently operated by the 7th generation of family farmers, and the North Meadow in Deerfield adjacent to Historic Deerfield, one of the most iconic agricultural landscapes in Massachusetts.
This proposed route would not only jeopardize at least five private properties conserved by FLT, several state forests, many productive farms, and a multitude of sensitive habitats, its construction would create a dangerous precedent for overriding the Commonwealth’s public conservation interests for private gain. Massachusetts has a long and proud history of conserving farmland, woodlands, and rivers and streams, with a significant portion of those acres utilizing public funds. To allow this pipeline over these lands would endanger all of the state’s conservation lands to future claims or proposals.
Because of the gravity of the situation, FLT and several other land trusts and organizations have formed a new coalition, Northeast Energy Solutions (NEES), to be our voice at the federal regulatory level, where the decision on the status of the pipeline will ultimately be made. We cannot risk being outmatched by this large corporation, therefore NEES has hired a highly experienced energy attorney to provide sound analysis and effective advocacy to ensure that this pipeline as proposed does not come to fruition. You can read more about our conservation and pipeline advocacy work at www.franklinlandtrust.org.
This blog was originally posted on the Franklin Land Trust's News & Views.