About Us

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is a private, non-profit, member-supported land conservation trust. It was founded in 1986 to address the loss of open space and public access, the disappearance of family farms in the Williamstown area and to encourage responsible development.

The legal name of the organization is: “Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, Inc.” However, as of 2021, it does business as: “Williamstown Rural Lands.”

Mission statement: Williamstown Rural Lands conserves and promotes the forests, fields, farms and natural habitats of our region for the benefit of our communities and future generations. 

In support of this Mission, we are committed to:

  • Conserving land selectively with important wildlife habitat value, land in close proximity to other preserved open space, and working landscapes such as farms and forests;
  • Promoting outdoor recreation by establishing public access to conservation lands wherever possible.
  • Offering nature-based education programs, workshops and events to learn about our natural and cultural heritage, and to encourage participants to experience the land firsthand;
Sheep Hill from Bee Hill Road
Sheep Hill (Bee Hill View)


  • Owns over 950 acres in 20 parcels that are open to the public for hiking and recreation
  • Holds 11 Conservation Restrictions on over 280 acres
  • Maintains 50+ miles of trails with the support of the Williamstown Conservation Commission and the Williams Outing Club
  • Hosts programs and events for all ages and open to the public year round.

In cooperation with partner organizations and agencies and including the holdings noted above, WRL has preserved more than 3,500 acres of prime agricultural, forest and habitat lands including the Petersburg Pass Scenic Area, the Haley Farm on the Hopper that’s now part of the Mount Greylock Reservation, the Phelps Farm in South Williamstown, and our scenic and historic Sheep Hill headquarters.

Sheep Hill is the site for programs and events highlighting the natural and cultural history of the former farm, the town and the surrounding region. An old dairy barn is now the Dietze Interpretive Center.  Programs, events, and informal exploration are available year round. Children’s nature programs include school field trips, pre-school, after school and summer nature and science.


  • Robin Sears, PhD, Executive Director
  • Dan Gura, Stewardship Director
  • Kas Maroney, Assistant Director
  • Dana Williams, Programs Director



  • Greg Islan, President
  • Barbara Carr, 1st Vice President
  • Phil McKnight, Vice President
  • Geraldine Shen, Vice President
  • Robert D. Kraus, Secretary
  • Janette Kessler, Treasurer


Cosmo Catalano, Jr., Brian Cole, Averill Cook, Aly Corey, Jane Culnane, Elizabeth Kolbert, Tom Leamon, Allen Pope, Jeff Sher, Wendy Skavlem, Tamanika Terry Steward

Presidents Emeriti

Marion C. Alton, Henry W. Art, Elizabeth Bartels, Phil McKnight, John C. Craig, Mary Lou Galusha, Bruce D. Grinnell, David A. Horton, Don H. McLucas, Jr., Claire-Ann Oakley, Malcolm Smith, Kim Wells

Directors Emeriti

Marion C. Alton, Henry W. Art, Anita Barker, Elizabeth Bartels, Linda Becker, Roger Bolton, Jock Brooks, John C. Craig, Anne Crider, David P. Dethier, Maureen Dietze, Sam Edson, Karen Falk, Virginia Fletcher, Juliet Flynt, Henry Flynt, Jr., Mary Lou Galusha, James C. Gibbons, Susan Gold, Dustin Griffin, Bruce D. Grinnell, Sherwood Guernsey, Amy Herring, David A. Horton, Tom Jorling, Libby Kieffer, Chester K. Lasell, Penelope I. Low, Don H. McLucas, Jr., Nancy Nylen, Claire-Ann Oakley, Stephen N. Pagnotta, Esq., Charles Schlesinger, John L. Sprague, Richard C. Steege, Win Stuebner, Peter Thomsen, John Umlauf, Pam Weatherbee, Kim Wells, Samuel Westcott, Jr., John Winant, Reinhard A. Wobus, Elizabeth Wright
Names in italics are deceased.

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