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Mass Audubon Sole Respondent for Greylock Glen Programmer

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Mass Audubon was the sole respondent to the town's request for proposals to provide "place-based environmental education" at the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center.
The Lincoln-based non-profit returned an in-depth plan with a six-year project timeline. Mass Audubon was among the collaborators with the town in the early planning process for the 1,063-acre glen, of which about 50 acres is being developed. 
It notes that the programs envisioned for the center — lectures, summit hikes, school field trips, bird walks and the like — would be tailored to demand as time goes by.
"[O]ur staff are trained to utilize a community engagement approach to understand from residents and other key constituents what they hope to learn and do where we operate environmental education programming," Mass Audubon's letter of intent reads, in part. "This data helps to inform how we design and implement program portfolios that meet our desired outcomes."
Town Administrator Jay Green said Friday that town staff will review the proposal before a likely presentation from Mass Audubon to the Board of Selectmen, which will decide whether to enter into lease negotiations with the non-profit.
Mass Audubon's proposed lease agreement calls for a zero dollar annual payment to the town for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2024.
A letter signed by Mass Audubon President David O'Neill explained that the non-profit deviated from the town's request for a 10-year lease because of unknowns related to the Glen development project.
"[T]here are many variables yet to be discovered and understood," O'Neill wrote. "If components of the Greylock Development project are not realized, we will need to address the financial model and revisit our term of the lease, as required."
That financial model counts on the creation of a 72-unit camp site at the Glen.
"The campground operator, Shared Estates, has expressed an interest in ensuring regular programming year-round for campground participants and the ability to provide predictable revenue to fund that programming," O'Neill wrote. "A regular and predictable pay structure agreement with Shared Estates would better position Mass Audubon to offer year-round programming."
Mass Audubon's budget projections show its education program being funded primarily through grants and donations in the first two years. By year four, the non-profit hopes to have the bulk of revenue generated from programs.
In the period from April 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025, the non-profit projects $36,000 in revenue from programs, $6,000 from school programs and $100,000 from "foundations and individual donors" — about 70 percent of the revenue in that time frame.
By fiscal year 2027 (July 1, 2026-June 30, 2027), the projections are for $96,500 from program revenue and $45,500 from Shared Estates for a total of 63 percent of FY27's $225,000 in anticipated revenue.
"To support Mass Audubon's mission work and programs statewide, Mass Audubon is fortunate to have four strong, separate revenue streams to support its operations: program or earned revenue, endowment income, gifts/grants/government contracts and membership dues," the proposal reads. "In the unusual circumstance when one of these categories is not performing as well as has been budgeted, another revenue source will compensate for the shortfall.
"We anticipate that during the first five years of Greylock Glen education programming, more than half of the expenses would be supported through grants and private donations," 
Mass Audubon said program fees could range from $10 per person for a one-hour program to $120 per person for a five-hour summit hike.
"Shared Estates Campground has offered to pay directly for a baseline set of programs provided for their guests," the proposal reads. "The price range per program will be aligned with the fee structure for general public program prices."
According to the timeline presented by Mass Audubon, the first adult programs at the education center would be in September and October of next year. The center also would offer its first programs for elementary school groups in the fall of 2024.
The center would ramp up in FY26, when the campground is set to open. Mass Audubon would offer more adult, family and school programs in the summer and fall of 2025 and spring of 2026. By FY29, assuming an extension of the lease, Mass Audubon plans to offer year-round programs.
According to its website, Mass Audubon operates more than 60 wildlife sanctuaries with nature centers and/or education programs across the commonwealth, including five in Berkshire County: Richmond's Tracy Brook, Pittsfield's Canoe Meadows, Otis' Old Baldy and Sheffield's Lime Kiln Farm.
"As the state's largest conservation organization — one that engages hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors annually — Mass Audubon is a leader in comprehensive climate science education," the Greylock Glen proposal reads.
"Mass Audubon is the largest statewide provider of environmental education programming in New England. More than 500,000 visitors of all ages, abilities and backgrounds visit our sanctuaries each year, and 150,000 youth, families and adults attend our education programs, which take place at our sanctuaries as well as in communities across the commonwealth in partnership with schools, agencies and community-based organizations."

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Annual Savoy Craft and Bake Sale

SAVOY, Mass. — The annual Savoy Craft Fair and Bake Sale will be held Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 at the town fire station, 17 Center Road in Savoy, from 9am-3pm.  
There will be a wide variety of local crafters displaying their creations just in time for holiday shopping. 
In addition, there will be a bake sale. All proceeds of the bake sale will benefit the Hilltown Hose Company.  
Free admission.
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