Smith College Pledges to Preserve Hundreds of Acres of Local Land
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College will soon enter an agreement to preserve in its natural state, forever, nearly 200 acres of hilltop forest land at the Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station in West Whately.
The signing of the Conservation Restriction on 190 acres of the college-owned field station—a 240-acre patchwork of forest and farmland—will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, at the Bechtel Environmental Classroom on site.
The legal agreement permanently prohibits development and assures that Smith will conserve the land’s natural resources. It will be held by the Kestrel Land Trust, a regional organization dedicated to conserving the land that sustains the quality of life and ecological integrity of the Connecticut River Valley, a 19-town area surrounding Northampton and Amherst.
“This agreement sets in stone Smith’s good intentions now and into the future,” said Andrew Guswa, director of Smith’s Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability (CEEDS). “Protecting the MacLeish land is a way of demonstrating Smith's leadership in environmental sustainability.”
For the past five years, the MacLeish Field Station has provided opportunities for faculty and students to pursue environmental research, outdoor education, and low-impact recreation. The agreement ensures that those projects will continue.
“This is the first step in a long-term partnership, which will ensure the stewardship of this special place to conserve wildlife habitat, encourage ecologically responsible education and research, and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture,” said Kristin DeBoer, executive director of Kestrel. “It is a legacy Smith should be proud of.”
The MacLeish Field Station is part of a contiguous block of forest identified by the Nature Conservancy as a “resilient” landscape, one that supports a great diversity of plants and wildlife regardless of climate changes.
The property was named in recognition of the MacLeishes, who are passionate environmentalists and friends of former Smith College President Jill Ker Conway. Conway’s gift supports the programming at the field station.
Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,600 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.