Important wildlife habitat and a public trail in Williamsburg are now permanently protected by Hilltown Land Trust, through the donation of a conservation restriction by property owner Sandra Warren and her late husband Jim Locke.
The newly conserved land abuts the existing Petticoat Hill Reservation, creating a continuous block of over 100 acres of protected habitat, including areas identified as BioMap2 Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape by the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Protecting these areas is vital to ensuring lasting biodiversity and will offer much needed habitat to rare and other native species. The property is also near the Unquomonk Watershed lands (owned and managed by the Williamsburg Water & Sewer Commission) and 1,000 acres of land recently protected by Hilltown Land Trust and other conservation organizations as part of the Brewer Brook Forest Conservation Project.
“Many species of wildlife depend on uninterrupted corridors of habitat,” says Hilltown Land Trust Executive Director Sally Loomis. “Being able to build on existing conservation efforts like we have here helps maximize the impact of our work.”
In addition to the habitat value of the property, the conservation restriction formalizes access to a popular local hiking trail known as Locke’s Loop. Connecting to a network of trails on Petticoat Hill Reservation, the public will be able to permanently access the property’s trail system for hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and other non-motorized recreational activities. Locke’s Loop also provides suitable access for wildlife viewing and educational programs on the property.
“The past year has seen a tremendous increase in the usage of trails in our region, and we’re happy that this project will keep a local favorite open and accessible to the public,” says Loomis.
In 1924 a portion of the original farm property was granted to The Trustees (then known as The Trustees of Public Reservations)—the world’s first nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to holding land for public use—adding to the recently established Petticoat Hill Reservation. Warren’s current gift follows in this long history of conservation, a legacy she and her late husband Jim Locke took seriously.
“Jim truly loved this land, and enjoyed opening up its trails for public use. Knowing that it will be protected forever for public access would bring him great satisfaction” Warren says. “I am happy to have worked with Hilltown Land Trust to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy this beautiful land.”
You can view more information about the Locke’s Loop trail and get a trail map on the hiking trails section of our website.