For Immediate Release - October 12, 2011

State and Local Officials Celebrate New Wildlife Management Area in West Stockbridge

WEST STOCKBRIDGE – October 12, 2011 – State and local officials today joined conservation partners to celebrate the opening of the Flat Brook Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a new conservation area that will protect wildlife habitat and provide numerous recreational opportunities.

“The dedication of this wildlife management area gives Massachusetts residents and visitors access to a new venue for great outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, canoeing and bird watching. It is yet another example of the Patrick- Murray Administration’s commitment to land conservation,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr.

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) acquired the 273-acre parcel of land in June for $1.1 million. At the same time, it acquired a separate seventeen acres to augment the nearby Maple Hill WMA, which now encompasses 220 acres.

“Most of the acreage we purchased is core habitat for several state-listed species of rare plants and animals, and it is superb habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “We are extremely grateful for the vital assistance provided by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) and other private partners that helped make this project possible.”

In addition to open space bond funds, the Commonwealth purchased the land using Land Stamp revenue derived from the sale of fishing and hunting license fees. The BNRC, which privately raised an additional $237,200 for the land acquisition, facilitated the sale for the Commonwealth and the site's multiple landowners. Funds include $53,200 as part of a wetland and floodplain restoration project funded by the Massachusetts SubCouncil of the Houstonic River Trustee Council, which is comprised of the EEA, as represented by the Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This is a great day for land protection in Massachusetts. In one outstanding moment, the collective efforts of state government, private landowners and the nonprofit community have conserved a landscape having phenomenal natural resources – a pristine pond and wetland complex, a healthy cold-water stream, extensive habitat for rare and endangered species, and the opportunity to connect to other lands of environmental significance,” said George Darey, Chairman of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, which approves DFG agency land purchases.

MassWildlife oversees more than 190,000 acres of conservation land in Massachusetts – open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and nature observation. The most recent acquisition provides public access to fishing at Crane Lake, Flat Brook, and Cranberry Pond. The Flat Brook WMA is an important habitat for protected species, such as the American bittern, bridle shiner, harpoon clubtail (dragonfly) and many species of aquatic plants.

“Any project of this scale and significance is complex. This was no exception with nine entities working patiently and efficiently together to make this tremendous investment in the Berkshires a reality,” said BNRC Director of Land Conservation Narain Schroeder. “This project is an example of forward-looking partnership at its very best.”

Landowners involved in the sale were the H. George Wilde 1989 Trust, Heirs of Arthur P. Gennari, Sr., Balgen Machine, Inc., and JDL Nominee Trust. The project’s private funders include the Open Space Institute, Saving New England Wildlife Fund, the Nion Robert Thieriot Foundation, Pamela B. Weatherbee, and the Trustees of the Natural Resources Damages Fund for the Housatonic River.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.