At its October 11, 2022 meeting, the Board of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership voted unanimously (19-0) to change its name from the “Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership” to the “Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts,” for the purposes of regular business. This discussion can be viewed in the video above, beginning at around minute 11:30. The Board vote acknowledged that this change likely requires state legislative action in order to be established legally, and includes a request for the Commonwealth to endorse the new name.
The name change discussion recognized that while the use of the Mohawk Trail highway in the original Partnership name may have been chosen as a way to connect Berkshire and Franklin Counties, there are a number of reasons why the name change makes sense at this phase of the Partnership.
“There has been a bit of discomfort mentioned by several members of the Board about the appropriation of the name Mohawk Trail in the name of the public body,” said Board Chair Henry W. Art of Williamstown. “Upon reflection on the situation, I brought up to the August and September Executive Committee meetings the suggestion that we propose to the Board that we change our name to one more fitting to our mission and geography.”
Motivation for the name change includes the following reasons discussed by the Board:
1. The Partnership has received feedback from some local Indigenous Peoples representatives who would prefer the Partnership not use the appropriated name of an Indigenous group.
2. The Mohawk tribe – unlike the Mohican, Pocumtuck, Abenaki, and Nipmuc tribes – did not live for long periods in the Partnership’s geographic boundaries, although they moved through the region on a footpath. Thus, the former Partnership name may have contributed to masking or making more invisible the presence of Mohican, Pocumtuck, Abenaki, and Nipmuc Peoples who still live in the area.
3. The highway that uses the name Mohawk Trail (MA-Route 2) is situated in only a third of the municipalities in the current Partnership boundaries.
4. In the future, the Partnership may wish to extend its boundaries south and east to include more municipalities that are located even further away from the MA-Route 2 corridor.
5. A woodlands partnership devoted to forest conservation and sustainable natural resource-based economic development may want to distance itself from association with a State highway, with which it might be confused to have a relationship.
Below is the text of the Board resolution approved on October 11, 2022:
“The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership,” a public body established by Massachusetts House Bill No. 4835 filed on 26 July 2018 and signed into law on 31 October 2018, will conduct its work known as "The Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts," and change its bylaws to reflect said change in name …
We furthermore request that the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the U.S Department of Agriculture - U.S. Forest Service officially establish and recognize the name of the public body formerly known as "The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership" as being henceforth the “Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts.”
As part of the process for updating its 10-year Partnership Plan, the Woodlands Partnership will hold two virtual public Listening Sessions to seek comments and feedback from residents of Northwest Massachusetts and other member of the public. The full draft Partnership Plan can be viewed and downloaded here.
Listening Sessions will take place on:
Wednesday, August 24, 4pm (virtual via Zoom)
Wednesday, September 14, 7pm (virtual via Zoom)
RSVP to Sophie Argetsinger at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Zoom link for either session and join the conversation.
As part of a "Rivers Run Through It" grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Woodlands Partnership is hosting a riparian restoration tree planting event at South River Meadow in Conway on Thursday, May 26th, 1-4pm.
We are hoping to plant about 70 trees, and we need your help! If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to Sophie Argetsinger at email@example.com. Bring a shovel for digging and bucket for watering if you have them.
Conway School of Landscape Design students Claire Baglien, Haly Rylko, and Karen Tassinari prepared this report for the Woodlands Partnership as part of a grant received from the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program. The students created a process for identifying where climate-adapted tree plantings could serve as a tool for resilience in the Deerfield and Hoosic River watersheds. The full report can be downloaded here.
Williams College students Abby Matheny and Sabrine Brismeur worked on this semester-long project in the Fall of 2021 that focused on giving recommendations to the Woodlands Partnership on the potential establishment of a Forest Center in the region. Their recommendations are based on background research, stakeholder feedback, and an exploration of potential locations for a Center, taking into account the Partnership's mission to support forest conservation, natural resource-based economic development, and improve municipal financial stability.
The full student report can be downloaded here.
As part of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Green Living Seminar Series, board Chair Hank Art gave a presentation on the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership on March 30, 2022. Hank gives an in-depth overview of the Partnership and discusses topics that include sustainable uses of the landscape, local wood and wood processing, promotion of sustainable forest management, and the diverse forest types and forest vulnerabilities of the region.
Watch the full presentation at this link.
The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership is hosting a free webinar on Saturday, December 11, 10-11:30am via Zoom.
Join local experts Dr. Desiree Narango of UMass Amherst and Logan Johnson of the Forest Stewards Guild to learn about the essential role oaks play in supporting a complex web of wildlife and the resilience of our woods. How can we help sustain the oaks?