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Conservation and Hope in the Berkshires

"For us, The Nature Conservancy agreement is a win-win situation ... It gives us hope."
- Cynthia Fisher, Northrop Camper in 1940s.

Tucked away in the far southwestern corner of Massachusetts, Northrop Camp has been a place where youths from New York City public schools gathered since 1923 to swim, camp and discover nature—a first for many of its campers.

But when a fire struck the camp’s main buildings in 1993, the future looked uncertain for both the camp and its 300 acres in the town of Mount Washington, an area rich in rare plant and animal species. Recognizing the value of this place, the Conservancy recently acquired a conservation restriction that protects these ecologically important lands and renews hope for Northrop Camp. Your support has helped our land protection staff work tirelessly for more than 15 years to make this project a reality.

With your support, we can conserve more in the Berkshires

“Protecting these lands is an incredible accomplishment, in many ways,” says Rob Warren, the Conservancy’s director of protection and policy in Massachusetts. The camp’s lands include high-quality habitat on Cedar and Ethel Mountains, and they connect and add to an 18,000-acre block of protected lands to the east and south and in adjoining New York.

Proceeds from the conservation restriction have helped jump-start a new era at the camp, where the long tradition of connecting New York City youths with nature in the Berkshires is being revived. Last summer, a small number of urban youths in a joint program with the Christodora Foundation came to the camp to study nature for a few weeks.

It all puts a smile on Cynthia Fisher’s face. Fisher and her two triplet sisters attended Northrop Camp during World War II, giving the siblings their first experiences learning about forests, night skies, gardens and so many other natural wonders. “For us, The Nature Conservancy agreement is a win-win situation.” says Fisher. “It gives us protection that the camp’s lands will be natural forever And it gives us some income for the camp. It gives us hope.”

“Protecting Northrop Camp is important for natural services, water quality and resilience of life and will bring joy and learning to many lives,” says the Conservancy’s Rob Warren. “The project merges goals of both the landowner and the Conservancy. It’s the kind of spirit that guides our land protection work across Massachusetts and beyond.”

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