SHELBURNE, Mass. (WWLP) – More than $250,000 in grants have been awards to western Massachusetts communities or projects that will focus on conserving forests and improving access to outdoor recreational areas.

A total of $253,200 will be distributed through ten grants to seven communities in Franklin and Berkshire Counties as well as two organizations as part of the Commonwealth’s celebration of Climate Week. The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership is an effort developed to shape a program with the goal of protecting forests and improving the economy of the small towns between New York and Vermont state borders.

“The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership grants serve as a great example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s proactive approach to protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources by working with local communities and organizations in an effort to continue to improve these outdoor spaces for the public to enjoy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “With the state still recovering from the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is even more important to support local initiatives, such as the conservation and effective management of forest areas for natural resource based economic development, which achieves climate goals, supports job creation, and grows local economies.”

The following communities and organizations will be receiving grants:

  • Adams – $20,000 – The “Forest Center Exhibits” project will design and complete exhibits within the new Greylock Glen Outdoor Center focusing on the many benefits of the region’s forest and the benefits of wood buildings.
  • Clarksburg – $20,000 – The “Land Survey and Forest Plan for Town Forest Property” project will complete a boundary survey for the 80-acre town property and complete a forest stewardship plan to guide sustainable forestry.
  • Heath – $15,000 – The “Winter Sports Grooming Equipment” project will purchase a groomer for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire winter biking for the new trail system developed via past grants.
  • Lever, Inc. – $60,000 – The creation of a wood processing center in Charlemont will expand the wood processing at Hall Tavern Farm by creating a business and marketing plan and web site, launching two new businesses, and creating a long-term management organization.
  • Massachusetts Forest Trust – $18,200 – The MA Forest Trust will be providing chain saw and harvesting safety training to first responders and woodland owners and provide monthly tours of demonstration forestry projects.
  • New Ashford – $20,000 – New Ashford will continue to work with DCR to expand hiking access from the Town to the State Reservation, Mt. Greylock, which has had very limited access.
  • Peru – $20,000 – Peru will rehabilitate all the drainage along this seasonal road to reduce erosion and allow access for hunting and fishing to a Wildlife Management Area. The grant pays for gravel and town match does the rest.
  • Rowe – $20,000 – Rowe will mark the many miles of trails and add maps and educational exhibits in the 5 kiosks recently installed as well as build a boardwalk in a 300-foot section to improve access for resident and tourist.
  • Rowe and Heath – $40,000 – Rowe and Heath have envisioned a new regional trail from downtown Shelburne Falls across a mountainous region north of Route 2 over many miles to Mohawk State Forest. The project would document land ownership and the most scenic layout.
  • Shelburne – $20,000 – The Town will prepare and open space and recreation plan with a focus on climate resilience and renovate the town ballfield for safe use and to also be used as a winter skating rink.

In 2018, the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership was established to improve rural economic development bases on sustainable forest conservation and tourism.