Conservation Areas Rules and Regulations
- No motorized vehicles allowed on conservation land or trails.
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from conservation areas. Glass containers are prohibited from the Puffer’s Pond area
- Please pack out your trash. Littering in any conservation area or on any trail is prohibited.
- Primitive camping is allowed by permit only in the Podick, Holyoke Range, Lawrence Swamp, and Eastman Brook conservation areas only, with the following restrictions: No camping within 50 feet of a stream, no more than six campers, no open fires, no more than two nights, and a responsible adult leader must be present at all times.
- Open fires are prohibited from all conservation areas; gas camp stoves are allowed.
- Conservation areas are open year-round, 24 hours a day, except for the following: Puffer’s Pond is closed at dusk (rangers are on duty approximately May 1 through September 30).
- Horses and mountain bikes are prohibited from certain trails to prevent damage to wet or sensitive sites. A complete list of trails closed to horses and mountain bikes appears below at the end of these regulations.
- Plants may not be cut or removed other than for scientific purposes as specifically authorized by the Conservation Commission, or for the control of invasive species or otherwise as carried out by the Conservation Department or its designees.
- Dogs must be leashed or under control at all times. They are prohibited from the Puffer’s Pond south beach and are allowed in the vicinity of the Puffer’s Pond north beach only before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm. They are not allowed in the water of Puffer’s Pond. Except for the Mill River and Amethyst Brook areas, dogs must be leashed on all conservation areas from April 1 through June 30 to protect ground-nesting bird species, and must be leashed at Larch Hill (Hitchcock Center) year-round.
- Radios may be used only with earphones.
- Watercraft other than personal flotation devices are prohibited on Puffer’s Pond. Canoe and Kayak at designated launch ramps only.
- Many open lands adjacent to conservation areas and trails are privately owned. Please respect private property and the rights of property owners. Those using Amherst conservation areas and trails are responsible for remaining on public property and avoiding trespass onto private property. In those trail sections that pass through private property by permission of the owner(s), trail users should remain on the trail – damage to private property may result in loss of trail easements or access. Avoid farm fields and disturbance of livestock.
- Hunting is allowed in the following conservation areas only: Lawrence Swamp, Holyoke Range, Atkins Flats east of the brook, and Simmons Farm. All hunting must be conducted in accordance with Massachusetts law. Hunting is limited to shotguns, air-guns, and archery – the use of rifles of any caliber is prohibited. All spent shotshells shall be retrieved and carried out. Hunting is prohibited within 150 feet of the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Under state law, hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Discharging a firearm is prohibited within 500 feet of any residence or dwelling in use or within 150 feet of any paved road. Only unloaded shotguns, air-guns, and bows may be carried on or within 150’ of the Rail Trail.
- Fishing is allowed in conservation areas, in accordance with Massachusetts law. Do not alter wetlands areas. Avoid damage to banks and stream beds. A fishing license is required for anyone over 15 years old. There is a limit of three (3) trout per day.
- Group use of conservation land, as for weddings or parties, is allowed with prior notification and approval of the Conservation Commission.
Violations of these regulations are punishable by a fine of up to $100 for each violation; fines under the non-criminal disposition statute will be $25 for each violation.