Prohibited activities reported at Bear Hole Watershed in West Springfield

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Community complaints about prohibited activities at the Bear Hole Watershed in West Springfield.

Walking, running, hiking and biking is allowed but hunting and ATV riding is not. The full list of activities that is allowed and prohibited is posted at the entrance to Bear Hole.

22News took your complaints about prohibited activities to Mary Anne O’Connor, the Vice President of the West Springfield Environmental Committee. They are working with Mass Audubon Society to get the Bear Hole Watershed protected as conservation land. It would give them money they could use to hire a patrol ranger.

“It’s so far out-of-the-way that the police are usually busy in another part of the town and if they send a car or two down there and something happens someplace else, they just can’t get there fast enough,” explained O’Connor.

Anthony Matte lives on Bear Hole Road. He said the ATV’s are not his concern.

“That’s been since the 90’s. People have always been off-roading down here. That’s just part of the territory I guess. I don’t really have a problem with that My biggest qualm is with people driving down here well over the speed limit,” said Matte.

22News viewers claim they’ve seen dangerous ATV driving, poaching and illegal deforestation in the watershed. The beautiful Bear Hole Watershed spans about 1,500 acres and is home rocky ledges, swamps, vernal pools, an old railroad line and potable water. O’Connor told 22News they want to make the Wastershed welcoming, add more signs and create some maps, but she encouraged everyone to follow the rules.