Family donates 178 acres to Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Roughly 178 acres of unused forested property has been donated to the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation by the Tenney family.

According to Sarah Tenney, the family had been considering the idea for several years.

"My father was born and raised in Williamstown," she said, noting that her grandfather worked a farm on the land. "My father was always so happy when he returned to Williamstown. The love of that land has been in my family for years."

The acquisition of the Tenney land brings to 748 the number of acres under foundation ownership. Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation property is open to the public for passive recreation and enjoyment of nature. Many of their properties include popular trails, such as the Pine Cobble, Chestnut, Fitch, and Sheep Hill trails.

Tenney said the idea that Williamstown Rural Land Foundation would preserve the land as it now stands is a matter of great comfort to the Tenney family.

"We're all really happy it's now with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation," she said. "It is a wonderful organization."

The land, located south of Route 2, and north of the former Bee Hill extension, will be evaluated for "wildlife inhabitants" and public access to potential hiking trails, according to Leslie Reed-Evans, executive director of the foundation.

"The woods are lovely and they're fairly well preserved," she said. "It's a large tract of land leading to the Taconics, an important wildlife migratory route to and from the Green Mountains, the Hudson Highland and the Adirondacks."

Reed-Evans noted that with the climate changing more rapidly, this series of preserved lands could serve as a migratory route for vegetation and animals to migrate to safety as their habitats change.

"And remnants of these isolated habitats might continue to exist even through climate change," she added.

The wooded land is adjacent to state-owned preservation lands and part of the original holdings of the Tenney family dating back to the early 1900s when Judge Sanborn Tenney began purchasing land in the Taconic foothills. The core of the Taconic Trail State Park came from land donated by members of the Tenney family.

"The Tenney land is an important addition to Williamstown's protected open space," Reed-Evans said. "WRLF is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift and is looking forward to introducing Williamstown residents and visitors to this spectacular parcel with its opportunities for nature study and recreation opportunities."

Tenney and her sister Gail are the last of the Tenney family to own the land.

"My sister Gail and I are extremely pleased that the land, which our grandfather Sanborn Gove Tenney purchased in the early 1900s, will be protected in perpetuity by WRLF," Tenney said. "Our grandfather, though the judge in Williamstown living on Park Street, oversaw preserving and farming his land, including taking his family by horse and buggy out Bee Hill Road to his farm every Sunday."


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