Hikers who reach the summit of Moosic Mountain are treated to breathtaking views of the endless ridges and valleys stretching out below. But amazing vistas are just one of the many treasures of this conserved landscape.
Moosic Mountain encompasses 15,000 acres of forested Appalachian ridgetop and an impressive array of heath barrens. The heath barrens are not desolate, as their name suggests. They are actually a healthy mosaic of pitch pine and oak forest dominated by huckleberry, blueberry, rhodora, and other low-lying shrubs. The flora attracts a broad array of birds like chestnut-sided warblers and game species like white-tailed deer, black bear, and turkey. A variety of butterflies and moths also dwell in the flourishing brush.
Despite its incredible natural beauty and environmental value, the property was once slated for commercial development which threatened both the wildlife habitat and water quality for surrounding residents.
But in 2001, a grant from the Keystone Fund made it possible for The Nature Conservancy to acquire 1,200 acres of the mountain, preserving the area for all people to enjoy.
In 2009, the Conservancy named the preserve after Dick and Nancy Eales, whose generosity, along with an additional Keystone Fund grant, enabled the Conservancy to expand and maintain the preserve, which now encompasses 2,250 acres. Two-thirds of the 15,000-acre mountain is now protected by a combination of public and private investments.
The Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain attracts a variety of users, including bird watchers, hikers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts who relish the preserve’s many miles of trails. The Nature Conservancy works with a variety of partners to instill in visitors a sense of ownership and responsibility while ensuring compatible recreational uses for the land.