The Nature Conservancy and Sheffield Land Trust are selling Tatkon House in Sheffield MA. This property was gifted by Carol Tatkon on her death in 1997 to The Nature Conservancy, to be jointly shared with Sheffield Land Trust. It also came with more than 40 acres and an operating endowment. In 2003, the building was expanded to include a wing with numerous offices. At that time, there were nine TNC staff working from Tatkon House. There has been considerable downsizing since then.
The building is being sold with 20 acres (18 of which will have a conservation easement). There is a yellow birch on the property that I planted over the ashes of our stillborn daughter. There is a vernal pool that brims with wood frogs and yellow spotted salamanders in early Spring.
I have no doubt that TNC and Sheffield Land Trust have minimized the environmental impact on the surrounding protected lands by limiting development to the area surrounding the existing structure, but it is a sad situation.
Times change, and priorities shift. TNC previously sold land it owned in Sheffield this past May to a neighbor, which is its right so long as the terms under which it was acquired do not preclude its sale without restriction to a non-conservation owner. It also sold the house that went with it for a 32% loss over its 1996 purchase price. I trust that TNC kept a good account of these transaction details, and had the property appraised so that as a charitable non profit it would not make a sale to a private individual that was below current value.
I hope TNC and Sheffield Land Trust decide to honor the conservation intent of the donor of Tatkon House and use the proceeds of an eventual sale to protect other significant lands in Sheffield.