Why We Selected This Site
One of the most extraordinary landscapes in the northeastern United States stretches across the mountains of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, and reaches down into the lowlands of the Housatonic and Hudson Valleys. Known as the Berkshire Taconic Landscape, it encompasses more than 155,000 acres and contains one of the most spectacular, healthiest, and most diverse blocks of intact forest in southern New England. It is home to more than 150 rare and endangered species, and its globally rare calcareous wetlands provide clean drinking water for thousands of citizens.
The Nature Conservancy is reaching across state boundaries and working together with organizations and individuals to conserve the Berkshire Taconic Landscape as one of the world's "Last Great Places."
- Northern Hardwood Forest Matrix - centered around a 36,000 acre forest system atop the Taconic Plateau
- Calcareous Seepage Wetland Mosaic - including a variety of fen and seepage swamp communities
- Size one and two stream and river systems
- Hardwater lakes
- Floodplain forests
- Timber Rattlesnake
- Bog Turtle
- Habitat destruction and fragmentation.
- Invasive species, pathogens and parasites that overwhelm native species and change the ecology of forest and wetland systems.
- Stormwater run-off that alters streams and natural communities in wetlands, and threatens their endemic plants and animals.
- Alterations to the flow of water on the surface and underground that disrupt the connections between forested uplands and calcareous wetlands.
- Global climate change
- Acid deposition from distant fossil fuel use
- Poaching or collection of rare and endangered species
Our Conservation Strategy
- Land Protection: The BTL program works with landowners to protect key land parcels, and whenever appropriate, conserving working landscapes such as forestry land and farms.
- Ecological Restoration: The BTL program manages the impacts invasive plants on our conservation targets through assessment, prevention, control and restoration. Restoration projects include using prescribed fire to restore a natural fire cycle in calcareous wetlands and other fire-adaptive communities.
- Applied Conservation Science: The BTL program has previously conducted hydrologic research, population and natural community assessment, and research on impacts of invasive species at various densities.. Current research includes rare species population surveys and associated natural community identification.
- Collaborative Land Management: The Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program has pioneered invasive species control at the landscape scale through its Weed It Now Program, a five year effort with federal funding to reduce the mean % cover of invasive plants to >5% within 10,000 acres of public and privately held forest lands on the Taconic Plateau. The BTL program works with state agencies, private land management organizations, and individual landowners to collaborate with them to meet their land management needs, identify conservation targets, and develop strategies to address ecological threats on their land.
- Collaboration with Local Communities: The Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program increases awareness of the importance of conservation as a means to protecting the region's cultural and ecological integrity. The program identifyies and supports economic growth that is compatible with the environment and consistent with community goals.
What We Do Here
The Nature Conservancy has a proud track record of conservation success in the Berkshire Taconic Landscape. Each of the three state chapters of The Nature Conservancy has been working in its respective portion of the Berkshire Taconic landscape for decades. In 1993, a landscape office was established in Sheffield, Massachusetts, and in 1999, the Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program officially became a tri-state venture, working across the landscape regardless of political or organizational boundaries. More than 5,000 acres of ecologically significant land have been protected by the Conservancy so far.
The Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program represents the cutting edge of the Conservancy's approach to functional landscape preservation. The program is known for its pioneering conservation work and is a leader in the control of invasive, exotic plant species at the scale of the threat they represent.