December 18, 2018
Two Western Mass. Nonprofits Each Receive $250K Bequests

December 5, 2017 — Two western Massachusetts nonprofits that work to conserve natural resources recently announced that each received a $250,000 bequest to advance their conservation work, create new trails, and enhance wildlife habitats.

Kestrel Land Trust, based in Amherst, and Franklin Land Trust, based in Shelburne Falls, received the gifts from the estate of Kathryn “Kay” Burnett, a passionate outdoorswoman who died last spring.

“Kestrel is honored to receive this extraordinary and unexpected gift,” said Kristin DeBoer, executive director of Kestrel Land Trust. “Kay has already left a tangible legacy by helping other people to explore the beautiful landscape of Mt. Tom. Now, with her generous financial gift, Kestrel and our partners will be able to do even more to preserve and share the land she loved.”

Kestrel Land Trust intends to honor her memory by using her bequest to conserve more land on and around Mt. Tom and the Mount Holyoke Range, expanding public access to the mountains and trails.

“Most landowners and members cannot support our work at such a significant level,” said Rich Hubbard, executive director of the Franklin Land Trust. “Kay’s generous gift will leave a lasting legacy for the community and reaffirms the impact that land conservation has on so many people.”

Franklin Land Trust intends to use its bequest to care for conserved properties, create and maintain trails, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Burnett was a skilled trail builder who helped establish numerous trails on the Mt. Tom State Reservation. She constructed wooden bridge structures in her garage and then backpacked the materials up the mountain for the Beau Bridge Trail, as well as other bridges on Mt. Tom that are still in active use today. Burnett served as a guiding force on the Mt. Tom State Reservation Citizens Advisory Committee for many years.

Bill Finn, who served with Burnett on the Mt. Tom committee, said, “Kay's contributions to Mt. Tom and the hiking community in general were significant. She believed that trails are essential for connecting people to the land. There is so much about Kay's life that should be an example and inspiration to future generations, encouraging people to enjoy and care for the land.”

Kestrel Land Trust’s mission is to conserve and care for forests, farms, and riverways in the Pioneer Valley, while nurturing an enduring love of the land. Kestrel has helped to conserve more than 25,000 acres of forests and farms since 1970, including more than 1,000 acres in 2015 on the Mount Holyoke Range.

The Franklin Land Trust works to conserve farms, forests, wildlands, and other natural resources significant to the quality of the environment, economy, and rural character of the region.

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