NEW MARLBOROUGH — A 114-acre parcel of open fields, forest and a vital part of the Umpachene River watershed will be conserved for agricultural and recreational use.

In just two months, the New Marlborough Land Trust raised the $260,000 needed to buy the property two days before its Dec. 31 deadline to close the deal with the out-of-state owner, according to the nonprofit organization.

The single-largest acquisition in the Land Trust's 34-year existence brings its total to 589 acres — mostly donated — since the group was formed in 1983.

Land Trust President Ian Devine says more than 200 individuals, land groups, town entities and businesses anted up the money to secure the land from Illinois-based CML Berkshire Land LLC.

"The fundraising was amazing, but the people got the importance of the land to the town," Devine said. "A lot of people came to us, telling how they use to fish and hike that land."

Now named the New Marlboro Preserve, the property adjacent to the village of New Marlboro was once part of the the 245-acre Kolbourne School campus that closed in June of 2012. The remaining 131 acres that includes the private, therapeutic facility for high school-aged students remains in separate ownership.

The new preserve is surrounded by land owned by the state, The Trustees of Reservation and Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

"The New Marlboro Preserve was the missing puzzle piece to connect a number of nearby conserved properties," said Martha Bryan, executive director of the Land Trust. "We hope to make this scenic, unspoiled land a resource for the entire community."

A resource that likely includes haying or livestock grazing of the open fields and possibly creating some hiking trails linking the preserve to the neighboring conservation lands.

"We're already working with one farmer on rotational grazing of cows and chickens on other land we own," Devine said. "We don't want to take land off the table, we want it to be put to good use."

Devine expects Land Trust volunteers to walk the property later this year in order to determine the best uses and practices for the open space that could economically impact the community.

"The open vistas and pristine waters underline why people come to the two inns and four restaurants that are within walking distance," he said.

Contact staff writer Dick Lindsay at (413) 496-6233.