Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary Grows By 85 Acres

In partnership with the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, Mass Audubon closed on 85 acres of land south of our Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary near Old Sudbury Road.  The land straddles the borders of Lincoln, Wayland, and Weston, with the entirety of the property in Lincoln and Wayland. 

An established trail winding through the property.

The land was donated to Mass Audubon by the Carroll School. Mass Audubon is very grateful that the Carroll School approached us with this opportunity, and we are equally grateful to have the School as our neighbor in Lincoln. We look forward to continued collaboration with the School into the future as they develop ways to incorporate outdoor time on the sanctuary land into their educational programming.

Ready for Visitors

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera pubescens, a type of orchid found on the property.

The 85 acres itself actually has been open to visitors for some time, and it contains an established trail network.  The trail network has been maintained by the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, which now holds Conservation Restrictions on the property. 

Most notable is a much beloved boardwalk that runs through an exquisite red maple swamp that makes up the majority of the property.  The land is ideal habitat for numerous plants and animals including two types of orchids—downy rattlesnake plantain and pink lady’s slipper.

This land connects to a much larger network of protected land and hiking trails.  This includes land protected by the Town of Lincoln, the Weston Town Forest to the south, and of course Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary.

The property is best accessed via the trailhead on Town of Lincoln conservation land on Old Sudbury Road.

By Nick Rossi, Land Protection Specialist

Critical Addition to Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary

The Trifilo family has bought, sold and owned several properties in Barre over the past century.  One special property has been in the Trifilo family for over 50 years and the three children who inherited it decided to sell to Mass Audubon, adding nine acres and frontage on Galloway Brook to the Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Cook’s Canyon is the small ravine in which Galloway Brook flows.  Galloway Brook has some impressive waterfalls and rapids during times of high water.  A small shopping center on the east is separated from the land by a natural cliff-face.  This acquisition preserves an ecologically significant natural area, and assists wildlife movement by expanding the connectivity of Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary – a key response to climate change.

Galloway Brook

The Galloway Brook along the southern boundary is a tributary of the Prince River, a coldwater stream.   Coldwater streams are areas or reaches of streams and small rivers with water cold enough throughout the year to support coldwater fish species such as brook trout.  This acquisition increases the length of protected stream corridor by approximately 650 feet.

-Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

Donation of 50 Acres Near Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon has received a generous donation of a 50-acre property on the former Grass Hill Road in Whately, near the Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary.  It is a forest habitat type known as hemlock-hardwood-pine. White pine and eastern hemlock are predominant with hardwoods such as red oak and ash mixed in. 

This property abuts private lands on its northern and western boundaries that are protected through Conservation Restrictions held by the Hilltown Land Trust.  In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game has a Wildlife Management Area off the northeastern corner, and the City of Northampton owns watershed lands further north and east of the land.

The donors owned this land for 60 years.  It was originally part of a much larger land holding of the Graves family after which the Wildlife Sanctuary is named.  Thaddeus Graves conveyed this particular parcel to the New England Box Company, which owned it from 1909 to 1955

Historically, the property was used primarily for timber, but it has not been logged in the past 20 years.  Signs of bear and moose were found during a recent walk.  These 50 acres add significantly to the connection between protected lands in the area thereby preserving the integrity of the natural landscape.  This in turn assists wildlife movement—a critical need in the age of habitat-altering climate change.  A walk in these woods provides a sense of awe at the resilience of nature, and the peace of the natural world.

-Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

Introducing A New Wildlife Sanctuary in Warwick

In a secluded part of western Massachusetts, a hidden valley along a brook in Warwick was recently acquired by Mass Audubon. Adjacent to the Warwick State Forest, this 140-acre property has been on the wish-list since 2004 when a neighbor to the north, Nick Arguimbau, generously donated a Conservation Restriction to Mass Audubon on his 30+ acres which include a section of Gales Brook. 

Nick also gave Mass Audubon startup funds to be used to extend protection of the Gales Brook from his property southward. The newly purchased property increases protection of the Gales Brook stream corridor by over 5,000 linear feet.

The property has steep slopes and rocky outcroppings, and contains habitat for rare and endangered species. Conservation preserves this ecologically significant natural area, designated as BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program of Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game (Fish & Game), and rated as highly resilient to the impacts of climate change.  Protection of the property will also assist wildlife movement because of its extensive connection to Warwick State Forest.

This area is a high priority in the Quabbin to Cardigan (Q2C) Regional Conservation Partnership because it is entirely located in the Core Focus Connectivity area.  Q2C is a collaborative landscape-scale effort of 27 private organizations and public agencies to conserve the a 50+ mile contiguous corridor between the Quabbin watershed conservation holdings and Mount Cardigan in New Hampshire.   

Sam Lovejoy

Importantly, when the owners were considering possible development of the property, longtime conservationist and former land agent for Fish & Game – Sam Lovejoy – got involved and persuaded them to sell to Mass Audubon for permanent conservation instead. We are very grateful to Sam for his volunteer advocacy for conservation in this instance (and others).

Mass Audubon Welcomes 7-Acre Addition to Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary

On the southern side of Cold Spring Road in the Town of Sandisfield sits seven acres of ecologically rich land recently acquired by Mass Audubon from Donald and Mary Turek. 

Part of the Minery Property

The Turek’s land is directly across the road from Mass Audubon’s Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary and is adjacent to a larger 173-acre parcel Mass Audubon has an opportunity to purchase, if we can raise the funds. These 180 acres, as well as 60 acres of the existing Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, once belonged to Robert Minery. 

Mr. Minery sold the seven acres to the Turek family in 2004, and they are delighted to see it re-connected.  Mary Turek commented, “It is always a pleasure to work with Mass Audubon. We are just happy to see that Mr. Minery had always had a soft spot for the audubon, and now this parcel will be part of the Cold Spring Rd. audubon property.”

View towards Sandisfield State Forest

Building a Bridge

Acquisition of this land eliminates possible development that would fragment the area, and helps form a bridge between the 770-acre Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to the north, the 6,616-acre Sandisfield State Forest to the south, and the 6,600-acre Otis State Forest to the west. 

This type of connection is a key response to climate change.  As temperatures rise, plants and animals will be on the move – searching for hospitable landscapes in which to live.  This particular area is a high priority within the Berkshire Wildlife Linkage of Western Massachusetts, the goal of which is to connect the Green Mountains in Vermont to the Hudson Highlands of New York

by Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

Land Next to Wachusett Regional High School Conserved

Occasionally Mass Audubon comes across a property that is an “inholding” (a property not owned by Mass Audubon that is virtually “within” a sanctuary) in relation to one of our sanctuaries.  In this case, a staff person identified a seven-acre property with no road frontage between the Wachusett Regional High School and the Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Holden, MA.  What does Mass Audubon do in these circumstances? 

“Would You Like to Make a Gift of Your Land?”

The first step is to contact the owner and see if they might be interested in donating the land.  The owner of this parcel was a real estate investment company and when we approached them about donating the land they said “Yes”!  On December 10, 2019, that intention was realized when UMass Memorial Realty signed the deed to Mass Audubon. 

Asked to comment on the gift, Renee Mikitarian-Bradley of UMass Memorial said, “We should all have a goal of leaving a space, a building, or a property in a better condition than on our first encounter. Mass Audubon has demonstrated for years its commitment to being responsible environmental stewards here and beyond. We think it is appropriate and fitting that this land is now in their hands.”  

Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

With everything from large red oaks to extensive wetlands, Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary supports a wealth of wildlife including fisher cats, deer, a variety of snakes, as well as hosting nesting sites for Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

The Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1983 with a gift by Clifford and Hilda Appleton of 130 acres.  It has almost tripled in size since then thanks to many generous donors. This newest addition gives Mass Audubon an opportunity to preserve an ecologically significant and locally popular natural area, as well as the potential to connect with established trails at Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.

The boy’s and girl’s cross country running teams at the abutting neighbor to the east—Wachusett Regional High School—have used the property for many years to augment their running route, and agreements are in place for them to be able to continue that use. Wildlife will benefit, the runners will benefit, and our sanctuary is now more closely connected with the regional high school that abuts it – “it’s all good”, as they say!

By Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

Gift Protects 70 Acres Adjacent To “The Mount” In Lenox

A 70-acre woodland parcel adjacent to “The Mount,” Edith Wharton’s home and a National Historic Landmark, is now permanently protected thanks to a Conservation Restriction generously donated by the property’s owner, David Carver, to Mass Audubon.  

Partnering With The Mount

Becky Cushing, Director for Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries, has partnered with the staff at The Mount for the past two years – providing free bird walks for the public on The Mount property and extending on to Mr. Carver’s property next door.  The Mount’s Executive Director, Susan Wissler, has been working closely with Mr. Carver for several years to protect this property and says, “This is a huge move on David’s part, and through Becky, Mass Audubon is proving to be an excellent partner.”

A trail on the newly protected property.

Protecting these acres will provide greater resiliency to the impacts of climate change in a relatively developed location – absorbing flood waters from storm events and connecting 14 acres of Lenox Township conservation land on Laurel Lake with The Mount and at least 1,000 acres of undeveloped lands around Rattlesnake Hill to the west.  

Trail Network

Mass Audubon and The Mount will work together on improving and maintaining the trails throughout the Carver property – enhancing and restoring a 6-mile network of trails for public access and recreation. 

“Our intention is to improve the trails, expand the trail network and reactivate wonderful old carriage roads that connected old estates,” Wissler said.  “It’s a marvelous opportunity, given The Mount’s interest in protecting its borders and Lenox’s interest in having open space and natural beauty preserved.”

“This partnership supports the integration of nature and culture, a theme strongly woven through the fabric of the Berkshires. We look forward to working with The Mount to connect visitors with nature through interpretive signage, trails and programming,” Cushing said.

by Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

New Hampshire Couple Donate Land in Princeton

Scott and Gladys Olson generously donated their 4.9-acre property in Princeton, to have it become part of the Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary. While modest in size, the parcel situated at the intersection of Gates and Goodnow roads near Wachusett Meadow’s western boundary represents a significant addition to the 1,100-acre wildlife sanctuary.  

Benefits for People and Nature

A section of the Midstate Trail, a popular long-distance hiking path stretching from Rhode Island to New Hampshire, passes right alongside the newly-protected parcel and also links to the sanctuary’s network of trails. These additional acres help preserve the integrity of the natural landscape, and secure a larger area for wildlife movement—a critical need as our climate changes.

A Family’s Generosity

Scott and his family have owned this land for almost 40 years.  Scott grew up in Holden, attended Wachusett Regional High School, and ended up living in Princeton.  He and Gladys reside in New Hampshire now and decided the best thing for the land would be to donate it to Mass Audubon. 

On behalf of his family, Scott wrote, “I have a trove of wonderful memories of my life in Princeton, particularly time spent walking in the sanctuary at all times of day in all seasons of the year…I took my forty-one year old son on his first hike down our dirt road into the sanctuary when he was six days old. It gives me profound satisfaction to know that the land will be conserved in perpetuity for others to share.”

The generosity of the Olsons is a lasting legacy to people, wildlife and the nature of Massachusetts.

by Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist

Dave the Trailblazer

About a month ago, I attended a very nice event at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (aka, “my old school”).  While scheduled late on a Friday afternoon in the western part of the state, I gladly made the trek to Amherst – because my longtime friend – David Kittredge – was being honored. The well attended event was held at the brand new, and very “green”, John W. Olver Design Building on the UMass campus.  

Dave had retired after being a professor and extension forester at UMass for many years in the Department of Environmental Conservation.  Among many things, he taught a class in land conservation – the very first of its kind that I was aware of – providing a new “on ramp” for the field I had been so passionate about since graduating from UMass (Natural Resource Economics) in 1981.

Dave invited me, and a number of other experienced “practitioners” from the Massachusetts land conservation community to present case studies to his students.  I readily accepted, and returned to present to his classes for more than a dozen years following.  I did so to help advance this fledgling effort to provide academic training for the land conservation field, and to stay connected with the University.  I felt honored to be asked.

In the years that followed, it was great to see a number of the names and faces from Dave’s classes establish themselves in the land conservation field here and elsewhere around the country.

I give Dave a lot of credit for having the foresight to launch this training when he did.  His trailblazing instincts are also reflected in the fact that he founded the Massachusetts Keystone Program (formerly Coverts), a multi-day workshop in existence since 1988 to advance the conservation of forestlands.  Paul Catanzaro now carries both efforts forward.

Dave has been experiencing some health challenges of late.  I and many others send him positive energy/strength for that, and certainly wish him the very best.  

Bob Wilber, Director of Land Conservation

Longstanding Partnership with City of Northampton Bears Fruit Once Again

Mass Audubon and the City of Northampton worked in partnership to add one and a half acres to the conserved land known as the Rocky Hill Greenway and approximately four acres to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary (see map below). The Greenway is an active wildlife corridor that has been the focus of protection efforts by the conservation partners for much of the last decade.

The two organizations swapped ownership interests in the transactions.  In the case of the Greenway property formerly owned by “Open and Shut, LLC” located on Route 10, the City owns the land and Mass Audubon holds a permanent Conservation Restriction (CR).  The reverse is true for the four-acre parcel, formerly land of Ralph Thompson, added to the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.  Mass Audubon owns the land and the City holds a permanent CR. 

A Wildlife Corridor

The Thompson property has been vacant for at least the past 50 years.  The owner, a local entrepreneur, considered installing a public storage facility on the site but opted for this sale to Mass Audubon instead.  The property is within the identified wildlife corridor. The ravine on the southern side in particular shows evidence of animals crossing from Arcadia to the Rocky Hill Greenway. 

The Thompson property is located next to the wetland area of Arcadia, and provides a good vantage point to observe wildlife and also provides access for people to wander along the wetland’s edge in the woods. 

Getting More Done

Wayne Feiden, Director of Planning and Sustainability for the City of Northampton, notes that, “Partnering with Mass Audubon allows the City of Northampton to protect much more land than we would be able to on our own.  Together we have expanded the conservation land in this area by 120 acres over the past five years alone.” 

Bob Wilber, Mass Audubon’s Director of Land Conservation, comments that “while many other states are just beginning to cultivate a public/private ‘conservation community’ working regularly in partnership, it is second nature here in Massachusetts.  Each partner has unique skills and capacities that, when combined, give us the ability to do great things.  We simply get much more accomplished this way.  Our partnership with Wayne and the City of Northampton is a shining example of what a public/private partnership can achieve.”

By Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist