West Springfield proposing conservation restrictions to help preserve Bear Hole

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Bear Hole Reservoir has been a popular outdoor recreational area in western Massachusetts for over 100 years.

Now, the town of West Springfield is taking steps to make sure it stays that way for another century. The town is proposing a conservation restriction that would give the commercial rights of the land to a third party.

This would ensure the land stays protected and the town could never sell the land off for financial gain.

West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, “Cut off pieces, maybe sell it to some state agency for prison or whatever because of 90 cuts right through there. We don’t know. But we do want to do is make sure it’s protected forever so our children’s children’s children have the same opportunity to do it as we do.”

The Conservation Restriction has been a topic of discussion for over 10 years in West Springfield. Now that it’s close to happening, residents have several questions.

“As part of it that the water source itself is maintained free of any boating or any type of traffic,” said Heather Wyman. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with that so that’s one of the questions I’d like to have answered.”

Audubon and DCR would buy the Conservation Restriction from the town for $1 million.

Under the Conservation Restriction, West Springfield would still own the land, the water, and rights to Bear Hole. The only thing the town would not own is commercial rights, which would prevent development on the land.

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