Franklin Land Trust received a gift of 24 acres of forested land in Ashfield and Conway, donated by landowners Ed Etheredge of Northampton, and Larry Hott of Florence. This land sits at the intersection of Ashfield and Conway, with views of Mt. Monadnock, Mt. Wachusett, and Mt. Greylock in the fall and winter months. This land is home to Bradford Brook, a state listed cold water resource, and while not contiguous, this northern hardwood forest contributes to larger blocks of conserved land in the region including Chapel Falls Reservation, Poland Brook Wildlife Management Area, and DAR State Forest. “Some of FLT’s most iconic landscapes have been the gifts of generous donors,” says Tom Curren, FLT Executive Director. “We are deeply grateful for the conservation ethic of landowners Larry Hott and Ed Etheredge who carefully stewarded and enjoyed this land with their families for over 40 years.”
Etheredge and Hott, who met as legal interns at Western Mass Legal Services in 1975, purchased the land off South Ashfield Road in 1979 with a goal of using it as a woodlot to generate firewood for each of their homes. Now a filmmaker, Larry Hott recalls their enthusiasm and naiveté in the summer of 1979, when they spent months harvesting, splitting, and moving firewood, only to generate one cord for two households. “They say cutting your own firewood warms you twice, but in our case, it was more like 15 or 20 times,” says Larry Hott. Realizing they needed a more conscientious plan to care for their land, they soon partnered with Consulting Forester Lincoln Fish. Fish encouraged them to enroll the land in Ch61A and to get a Forest Stewardship Plan, which they did and diligently renewed every ten years since 1980.
Hott described the land as a “summer playground” for each of their families. They would play with their children in Bradford Brook, picnic, and hike to the top of the ridge to look at the views. The land was a getaway for the Hott and Etheredge families, offering peace, quiet, and family fun. “We had a romantic notion that by owning this land we were protecting it,” says Larry Hott. As each family grew older, Larry and Ed decided it was time to think about the future of the land. They didn’t want it to be a burden to their children or grandchildren but didn’t want to see it sold and developed. Instead, they wanted to donate the land to Franklin Land Trust.
“We immediately saw the conservation value in this land,” says Alain Peteroy, FLT Director of Land Conservation. “The entire parcel is part of a large region of BIOMAP2 Critical Natural Landscape which means this land is an important piece in the puzzle of larger landscapes that support ecological processes and wide-ranging wildlife species. This is especially important as we think about using natural solutions to combat the impacts of climate change.”
FLT plans to manage this land for forestry, wildlife, and recreation. “We look forward to developing public access so visitors can enjoy the stream and managed woodlot. We also hope to develop trails that climb through the forest and clear areas to take advantage of potential views,” says Will Sloan Anderson, FLT Head Land Steward.
Larry and Ed are glad to see this land go to Franklin Land Trust. “We know the land will always be there, and that we can still go there with our families to enjoy it,” says Larry Hott. “We also know that FLT has the expertise and resources to manage this land, which is important to us as we think about climate change and the various threats to our forests, like invasive pests and plants.” In addition to donating the land to FLT, Ed and Larry also supported FLT by contributing a stewardship fee that will enable FLT to care for the property. Ed Etheredge, Northampton Attorney, appreciates that FLT will steward the natural beauty and history of the landscape moving forward. “It is a lovely New England forest, and we know the Franklin Land Trust will secure its beauty for years to come.”
Feature family photograph by Larry Hott.
Land photographs by Paul Frantz.