Still time for solution on Project Native land

To the editor:

A local environmental tragedy and travesty is happening in Great Barrington, causing me great concern and outrage at the bureaucratic procedures at the Department of Agricultural Resources.

A parcel of land owned by Project Native on North Plain Road in Housatonic which for over 10 years has been dedicated to the cultivation of native plants, is to be given over to the raising of livestock. A wealth of well-established plants, a gorgeous wild meadow full of rare native flowering plants and grasses, a beautiful natural sanctuary that is an important resource for the preservation of native species, is about to be given over to be devoured by pigs.

This is a tragedy for the environment and a huge bureaucratic mistake. Anyone who has seen the land, which is horribly depleted and bare, would know that this will be the fate of all the work that went into creating the incredible wild habitat at Project Native.

Project Native has been an invaluable resource for people like me who garden with the intent to restore native habitat for bees, birds and butterflies. Helia Landscape Design, chosen by Project Native to continue its work, should be allowed to buy the land.


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I wish to propose an alternative which would result in a three-way win. I understand that Sean Stanton had wanted to buy another piece of land that is for sale, which is actually almost right across the street from his farm, but for which he did not manage to get his request for a permit in on time. It is industrially zoned grass land, which for years has been for sale. If Stanton received a permit to farm on that land it could be preserved for agriculture. The sale of the Project Native land to Helia could continue, and the important work for the preservation of native species, as well as the harvesting of honey, maple syrup and native berries could continue.

A nasty and misguided political decision that pits neighbor against neighbor would be avoided. The hearts of a community fond of its citizens' accomplishments in environmental conservation would not be broken.

It is my understanding that Helia Landscape Design had been given verbal assurances by the Dept. of Agriculture for permission to keep working the land as Project Native did under its agricultural designation, and then suddenly lost that support. It is unimaginable that government could pull out the rug from under a small business that does such good work. It seems to me that people in power would want to come and see the local situation and find good solutions rather than just look at an application and decide with a stroke of the pen.

Anne LegĂȘne, Great Barrington