Through the efforts of Dr. Gilbert Rodgers of Medfield, Massachusetts, the use of the former Medfield State Hospital property by the Norfolk Hunt Club has been retained in perpetuity and that right is enshrined in the law. It was a privilege to recognize Dr. Rogers at the New England Hunts Hound Show—an individual whose efforts reflect the best of the traditions of foxhunting and the preservation of open land for current and future generations.
Foxhunters, like all outdoor sportsmen, have long been leading lights in the conservation movement, and Dr. Rodgers' actions in this case exemplify the best features of all such efforts, combining positive relationships, grass-roots support, and persuasive arguments. A key piece of Norfolk Hunt Club's traditional territory, beloved by many, was closed to access and the Massachusetts legislature had passed a bill to allow intense development on the property. Today, in contrast to the prognosis of a few years ago, the land is now owned by the Town of Medfield and the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, and openly accessible, allowing the Norfolk Hunt to be able to continue its century-old tradition there.
One of the primary missions of the Masters of Foxhounds Association is the preservation of hunting territory and habitat, and in furtherance of that goal has established two conservation awards. In addition to the national Hunting Habitat Conservaiton award, each District representative has been further authorized to grant a District Conservation Award each year to a deserving organization or individual.
Norfolk Hunt, founded in 1895, has always been a drag hunt and does not pursue live game, so one might be forgiven for imagining that 'hunting habitat' would be of little relevance to them, but nothing could be further from the truth. In highly populated Southern New England it is of the utmost importance to retain and maintain the open fields and trails that allow us to enjoy the activities of our ancestors and to foster the real connections that can be so readily broken by the sundering of people from the land. Dr. Rodgers' receipt of the New England District Conservation Award is recognition that he embodies the tenets and furthers the goals of the organization and foxhunting in general.