The Friends of Robinson State Park were formed in 2006 to express widespread opposition to a state-sponsored timber sale proposed for the hardwood sections of the park. The possibility of a timber sale ignited a renewed citizen focus on the abundantly diverse forest that is Robinson State Park and on the many reasons it should be preserved in its natural state.
Two years of study and a review of studies conducted by a citizens’ committee in the 1980s established the many features of Robinson State Park that deserved recognition, appreciation and protection.
Over 50 native tree species have been identified in the park by experts. More species are being found as studies continue. Experts have located and measured a pignut hickory that is the largest in the state. A rare community of Tulip Poplar trees is thriving in the park. The variable terrain, the proximity to the Westfield River and the multiple streams running through the park contribute to the exceptional variety of species of trees. Due to the many tree types in this rare forest, it is expected that corresponding rare and endangered plants and animals common to their shared environment will continue to be found.
The Allen Bird Club of Springfield has recorded 186 species of birds observed in the park over the past 50 years. Seven vernal pools have been certified and several more potentially certifiable pools are being studied. A study by Natural Heritage over several months in 2007 has recorded 8 species of rare dragonflies and damselflies, many Eastern Box Turtles and several other rare plants and communities. It is notable that the Natural Heritage database did not contain all of the species now known to exist in Robinson State Park before this study was conducted.
ISA certified arborist Matthew “Twig” Largess conducted several studies of the park and through his dedication was instrumental in the ultimate decision by the state to cancel the timber sale plans and preserve the forest in its intact state. He was the main sponsor of the June 2007 Bio-Blitz which brought about 40 scientists to the park. Matt has led multiple informative walks in the park and inspired the Friends Group to learn about and share the importance of the park. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone: (401) 533 – 2722.
The Park is known to have Native American sites that were identified for preservation by the 1989 report on the park. The citizens’ committee that studied the park at that time stated that many areas of the park should be environmentally protected zones. The 1989 report and the studies of 2006-2007 indicated that the park was not an appropriate place for commercial timber extraction.
Experts who have visited the park from other parts of the country are astounded by it, saying they would have never expected to find this kind of forest in such excellent condition in Massachusetts, particularly near a large city.
Although the timber sale plans were canceled in December 2007, everyone agreed that some “hazard trees” should be removed to assure the safety of visitors to the park. Stressed red pines near the front entrance and the headquarters have been removed. When possible, however, some dead or dying trees have been retained for the habitat they provide, particularly for woodpeckers.
Now, the Friends have a mission to share what has been learned about the park with the surrounding communities, encourage the use of the park as an “outdoor classroom” and work to make the preservation of the park permanent. The Agawam City Council has honored the park by unanimously approving a proclamation that the third Saturday of June will be Robinson State Park Day in Agawam, forever.
Robinson State Park provides a Natural Open Space for Recreation and Relaxation:
Paved Road and dirt trails for walking or jogging or bike riding,
Fishing along the banks of the Westfield River,
Great Place to Walk your dog,
Swimming Pond with Beach and life guards in the summer,
Choice location of local hiking groups and bird watching groups for walks and hikes open to the public,
Potential for activities scheduled by DCR Park Interpreter, Gini Traub,
Pavilion available for reservation for group gatherings,
Multitude of natural resources for observation/study/learning
Anyone interested in receiving email notifications regarding Robinson State Park and any activities planned there is invited to request to be on the list of friends and supporters and send an email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This website was created by Ryan Muller, A former student of Agawam High School. It is currently being maintained by Justin Laflamme.