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

Save The Mountain Fact Sheet
Mailing address: P.O. Box 511, Hadley, Massachusetts 01035
Email address: shel@frugalfun.com
Information number: 413-584-3490
Web address: http://www.SaveMtHolyokeRange.com

Objectives of the group: The mission of Save The Mountain is to protect the Mount Holyoke Range (including its ecosystem and its view) from harm caused by unwise development, and to maintain the range as a regional environmental, geological, archeological and recreational resource.

Who we are: Save The Mountain is a group of over one hundred Hadley and Pioneer Valley residents. We oppose inappropriate development of open space, and have come together to block a proposed 41-lot subdivision on the north slope of Mount Holyoke. We are committed to preserving the beauty, recreational value, and ecological integrity of the area. We have over 2800 petition signatures from individuals who oppose inappropriate development on the Range. Our working committees are comprised of committed volunteers as well as professionals with expertise in planning, law, and the environment.

History: This diverse, grassroots citizens' group formed in November, 1999 in response to a proposed real estate development by Ronald Bercume (Bercume Builders, Inc.), which would place 40 to 60 large homes on a 103-acre parcel of land extending from the Connecticut River valley south of Rt. 47 to the summit of the Mount Holyoke Range in Hadley, Massachusetts.

This development is part of a larger trend to develop land throughout the Pioneer Valley. We have worked to publicize the need to protect the Mount Holyoke Range as a priceless regional resource, through television interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, letters, canvassing, and by creating traveling display tables. We are with a number of local organizations, including land trusts, planning agencies, environmental education facilities, and student and volunteer organizations.

On February 15, 2000, over 400 neighbors from Hadley and surrounding towns gathered at the meeting of the Hadley Planning Board to oppose this subdivision. For more information on our history, please see the archives section of our web site.

Group Structure and decision-making: General Meetings of Save The Mountain are held on the first Monday of every month at 7:15 p.m. For more information on meeting locations and agendas, please visit our web site or call 584-3490. At these meetings, we welcome new members, provide information, and help people to get involved in whatever way they can. Updates from all committees are shared. People who wish to join Save The Mountain or to learn more about our activities should plan to attend a public meeting.

Five committees coordinate the day-to-day activities of the organization:
1) Environmental/Technical -- gathers information on the biological, geological, hydrological, and archeological profile of the Range and analyzes the impacts of development on these resources in with Massachusetts regulations
2) Fundraising -- raises or leverages funds and in-kind services to assist with project goals.
3) Publicity -- educates the public about the proposed development issues, and the larger importance of conserving the Mount Holyoke Range.
4) Legal -- works with our legal team to coordinate strategies to oppose this plan through town boards, and, if it becomes necessary, the courts.
5) Legislative - ties our groupís efforts in with other area environmental groups, and looks at regional and state approaches to environmental protection.

Anyone wishing to volunteer for one of the committees should contact a committee chair at a public meeting. A Steering Committee/Executive Board, consisting of representatives from each of the committees, meets regularly to discuss progress by the committees, liaison with other organizations, and to guide general strategy for Save The Mountain.

Many skills and services are especially needed by Save The Mountain:

  • Fundraising and grant- writing
  • Familiarity with legal, regulatory, and technical issues associated with development on the Mount Holyoke Range;
  • Graphics arts
  • Journalism
  • Public education (all ages)
  • Events planning (for benefits and educational events)
  • Biological inventory
  • Ornithology
  • Hydrological studies
  • Canvassing...and much more.

Particulars on the Bercume Builders Proposed Development:

Location: Northern slope of Mount Holyoke Range, adjacent to and east of Skinner State Park, near existing water tank. Highly visible from the Summit House, Seven Sisters Trail, Route 47, Chmura Road, Connecticut River, Route 91 and Coolidge Bridge. Installing homes on 103 acres will effectively cut the mountain in two: isolating the western and eastern portions of the range. Please see our web site for photographs and illustrations of the location.

Problems: The development as proposed would:

  • increase traffic to this rural area
  • require road-building on excessively steep slopes that are susceptible to winter freezing
  • triple population density
  • irretrievably alter the agricultural character of this part of Hadley
  • diminish the aesthetic attraction of the Range, which draws thousands of visitors annually who invigorate the local economy
  • contribute to rising property taxes and taxes needed to support schools, water, emergency vehicle access, and other town services (most likely eliminating any gains to the town tax base)
  • worsen water quality in the Connecticut River and its associated groundwater aquifer (which has been identified as a drinking water supply for the region), through construction-related erosion, clustering of septic systems, and run-off from roads and yards
  • fragment forested habitat and increase erosion on steep rocky slopes in order to clear hillsides for views
  • directly threaten birds, amphibian, reptile, and mammal species (several of them rare or endangered) that move along the Range and between the mountains and the Connecticut River floodplain
  • place at risk important archeological sites and fossil deposits that occur on the Range
  • significantly increase the economic pressure on local homeowners to sell their land to development interests, thus bringing much of the Range and adjacent valuable agricultural lands under similar threat
  • set a disturbing precedent for other high-impact developments throughout the Pioneer Valley

General Philosophy:
Save The Mountain believes that the proposed development contains several problems that are at odds with sensible regional planning, conservation, and state law. But we are not "anti-development" in principle. We readily acknowledge that responsible and well-sited development can keep this area fresh and economically vital. We encourage Valley communities to pro-actively designate open space, conservation land, and areas for development in ways that will promote a flourishing economy and a diversity of crucial habitats for all species.
We also support the rights of individual land-owners to decide the future of their property. We know that, like ourselves, many land-owners face powerful market pressures to sell land or to exploit it more intensively. These pressures will only increase as more and more people build homes in the Valley. We want people to know that there are financially viable alternatives that can help reduce tax burdens while investing in the ecological and aesthetic value of land. We can put property-owners in touch with a range of creative options.

Save The Mountain fosters cooperation and communication, without confrontation, among people who care about the cornerstone of our region, the Mount Holyoke Range.


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