Our History

As with many other environmental organizations, the Egremont Land Trust was formed in response to a threat. Egremont is a small Berkshire town, made up of two villages, North Egremont and South Egremont, with a total population of about 1100, and an area of approximately 12,000 acres. In 1985, a resort hotel called Jug End in the Berkshires, which occupied a 1200-acre valley a tenth of the area of the whole town was in bankruptcy. Its buildings were dilapidated and its grounds overgrown. A group of developers bought the property and proposed to erect 605 housing units in the valley, which was by far the largest block of undeveloped land left in Egremont.

A mini-uproar ensued, as many townspeople pointed out that such development would double the town's population at one blow and destroy the ecology of the valley. These opponents formed an organization called Egremont Environmental Action, whose slogan was "Keep Egremont Small and Beautiful." The battle was long and fierce, but became moot when the developers themselves went bankrupt.

The story had a happy ending for Egremont when the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife jointly bought the 1200 acres, demolished many of the buildings, and established the Jug End State Reservation and Wildlife Management Area, encouraged and aided by several environmental organizations, including Egremont Environmental Action, as the land trust was then known.

Now that the struggle and drama were over, and the goal achieved, EEA paused to draw breath and then, in 1998, changed its name to the more descriptive Egremont Land Trust. First steps were tentative: EEA had in 1993 succeeded in purchasing nearly 10 marshy acres of fen on Baldwin Hill Road, and this remained for some years the land trust's only acquisition. Then in 1999, the land trust, with the help of The Nature Conservancy, a frequent partner in our conservation efforts, bought a 27.5 acre parcel, the last remnant of what is alleged to be Egremont's oldest farm. That same year, The Nature Conservancy gave us five acres on Mt. Washington Road.

Another of our conservation partners has been the Appalachian Trail Conference, with which we worked to preserve a critical parcel of 10 acres which formed part of a beautiful vista from Route 41 overlooking valley and hills in Sheffield and extending on into Connecticut.

We have not rested on our laurels. See Projects Accomplished for a list of our efforts since the Egremont Land Trust was founded in 1998.