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Save the Mountain
P.O. Box 511
Hadley MA 01035

Page content and design © 1999, 2000, 2001 Save the Mountain.

Save the Mountain!  
Mt. Holyoke Range from Coolidge Bridge.  Photo by Chris Dixon.

Welcome to the online home of SAVE THE MOUNTAIN! We are a group of citizens dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Mt. Holyoke and Mt Tom Ranges of western Massachusetts.

The Ranges are volcanic in origin and run east to west (one of very few mountain ranges that do so!) for almost 20 miles across the Connecticut River Valley, rising up to 900 feet from the valley floor. They are a beautiful mix of rock cliffs, mixed forest, streams and ponds, with reservoirs and related watersheds. These mountains are also home to hundreds of plants and animal species, with over a dozen listed as rare or endangered.  They are laced with hiking trails including the Metacomet-Monadonock Trail, a section of which runs the length of the Ranges and was recently designated a National Recreational Trail. The ranges are the single most prominent natural feature of the Pioneer Valley and provide a backdrop to the daily lives of citizens throughout the region. The Mt. Holyoke Range borders the towns of Hadley, S. Hadley, Amherst, Granby and Belchertown to the east of the Connecticut River and rises again to the west of the river as the Mt Tom Range, bordering Northampton, Holyoke and Easthampton. The Mt. Holyoke and Mt. Tom Ranges together were named one of 10 'Last Chance Landscapes', defined as natural wonders with both pending threats and potential solutions, for the year 2000 by the national Scenic America organization.

SAVE THE MOUNTAIN came together late in 1999 in response to a sudden specific threat to the Mt Holyoke Range, a planned purchase of mountainside land and proposal for a huge subdivision of large homes to be built on the northern slopes of the Range in Hadley MA. The houses and roads would have stretched far up the mountainside and been the first such intrusion on the unbroken natural line of the Range, requiring large scale tree cutting and earth moving. Besides ruining views of the Range from throughout the region, the site would have directly abutted the Holyoke Range State Park, including Skinner State Park and Mt. Holyoke proper with its picnic grounds and historic Summit House. There were also many technical problems with the site (slope, drainage, etc.) and the project would have had negative impact on established habitats, both animal and human.

SAVE THE MOUNTAIN helped raise awareness of this threat, and public response was overwhelming. Hundreds of citizens flooded their officials and media with letters and calls, attended and testified at hearings, contributed time and money, and helped in countless other ways. By getting the attention of the parties involved, the state and a generous donor, we are proud to report that this threat was largely averted late in 2000 with a 'friendly taking' by the state of the largest and most scenic upper slopes of the parcel, adding it to the adjacent State Park! Even better, there are signs that this crisis has helped to spur a wider concern about regional and local planning and land preservation. Please visit our archives section for news articles that tell the story of this successful campaign, and for articles on other Range issues. You can also find photos, maps and other info here.

SAVE THE MOUNTAIN sincerely thanks people like *you* who made this resolution possible!! Although this specific threat appears to have been averted (check back for updates), our work is far from done! There remain a great many parts of the Ranges that are vulnerable to inappropriate development. We hope that by opening lines of communication among those with interests in the Range, we can make future solutions proactive rather than reactive.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Attend SAVE THE MOUNTAIN meetings and related events, listed at the calendar page and join the savemtholyoke email discussion group.
  • If you live in the Pioneer Valley, stay vigilant for threats to the Ranges! These can come from any number of directions, often with little or no warning, so read the local news, watch your local Planning Board/Select Board/Zoning Board meetings (most are carried on cable TV), keep an eye on legal notices for public hearings, scan real estate listings/transactions, listen to local chat, etc.
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about the Ranges, particularly anyone who may own land on same and be interested in preserving it. There are a number of options which allow landowners to preserve their land and still get full value from it!
  • When land preservation related issues come up, write your elected officials and news media to register your concern. When zoning or land use initiatives are proposed, go to your town meetings and/or VOTE!
  • Consider a monetary donation to the cause. Small donations for operating expenses can be sent to SAVE THE MOUNTAIN at Box 511, Hadley MA 01035. Larger donations specifically for land purchases can be handled through the Kestrel Trust in Amherst MA- call Judy Eiseman at (413) 253-2932 or email jeiseman@educ.umass.edu
  • Above all, the very best thing you can do is to get out on the Mt. Holyoke Range and Mt. Tom Range and see for yourself why they are worth protecting!! Suggested starting points are the Skinner State Park in Hadley, Notch Visitors Center in Amherst, and Mt Tom State Reservation in Holyoke.

Thanks for visiting!


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