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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Focusing Regional Conservation through Local Town-Based Plans
  • Author: Anna Therien (Westfield State University)
  • Abstract:

    Wildlands and Woodlands (W&W) is a conservation vision for New England that calls for protection of 70% of forests and 7% of farmland. This is a regional goal for New England, but actual success of this vision will depend on decisions and objectives of landowners and communities. I studied these issues in the Pioneer Valley, which is located in the western part of Massachusetts and is made up of three counties; Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire. In total there are 69 towns and most of them have Open Space and Recreation Plans (OSRPs) which are created from input and feedback from the townspeople. These documents provide a comprehensive explanation of the community, the natural resources they have, community surveys/opinions, goals, objectives, and a seven-year plan to complete the objectives they outline. We collected 63 OSRPs and obtained data from them, mainly focusing on their goals/objectives and their seven-year action plans. These data were combined into an excel sheet with different categories. I then took the text we had collected from the OSRPs and quantified it. By doing this I was able to quantify and analyze town goals. The resulting Excel sheet and maps made from the data are tools that can help inform land trust, planning, and community partners in a developing regional conservation partnership to advance their conservation work in a way that makes sense for different regions and towns.

  • Research Category: Regional Studies; Group Projects; Conservation and Management