This land is one of the last remaining pieces of unprotected shoreline along the sanctuary’s namesake pond. And it was protected by the children and grandchildren of the woman that first started conserving land in this area some 50 years ago.
Continuing a Conservation Ethic
We owe the start of conservation around Allens Pond (the water body and surrounding sanctuary) to Angelica Russell. Angelica first came to Mass Audubon back in 1971 with an interest in protecting her substantial property at Barney’s Joy Point, which borders Allens Pond.
After some negotiations, she ultimately donated Mass Audubon’s very first Conservation Restriction (CR). This was at a time when CRs were a brand new concept in Massachusetts. It was also the first piece of land that Mass Audubon protected in South Dartmouth.
The scale of Angelica’s donation is noteworthy.
Her first donation protected 156 acres of coastline, grassland and sand dunes.
Then in 1986 Angelica and her family added to this by protecting another 88 acres of important habitat.
Including this new property, the entire area protected by Angelica and her descendants totals about 250 acres—truly a remarkable act of conservation for coastal Massachusetts.
Pieces of a Puzzle
After Angelica’s first donation, Mass Audubon worked for decades to protect the rest of the area around Allens Pond. Bit by bit we worked with dozens of private landowners and supporters to conserve one piece of land at a time—filling in a conservation jigsaw puzzle.
This newly conserved land can be seen then as a further fulfillment of Angelica’s intent to preserve Allens Pond and Barney’s Joy.
Mass Audubon is grateful for Angelica Russell’s vision of preserving this beautiful landscape, and we are happy to work with her family members and others to continue it today.
—By Nick Rossi, Mass Audubon’s Conservation Restriction Stewardship Specialist
We’ve made good progress lately on several projects reported on in recent months:
Western Mass Electric Company. On Monday evening the Agawam City Council voted unanimously to approve these two conservation restrictions, totaling 65 acres at two sites, following Conservation Commission approval in late March. Western Mass. Electric is working to wrap up a few final permitting issues with the Corps of Engineers and the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, with hopes of completing the process and conveying the conservation restrictions this summer and initiating construction in the fall. Our crew heads out next Wednesday to gather baseline documentation (pictures, GPS locations of boundary points, etc.) that will help our stewardship staff monitor the property going forward.
Almy Property. This 5.7-acre conservation restriction nestled against Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth and other protected land will be placed on record any day now. The CR has been approved by the Dartmouth Select Board and by the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and is awaiting the blessing of the Dartmouth Planning Board as part of the Board’s approval of the family’s 3-lot Open Space Residential Design subdivision.
Valencia Property. The gift of this 2/3-acre bit of wetland surrounded on three sides by our Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester is a couple of steps closer to completion. Earlier this month I walked the property with Deb Cary and Martha Gach from the sanctuary staff as part of our routine evaluation of any contamination risk from oil or hazardous waste. The property passed with flying colors and we had a nice conversation with one of our prospective neighbors to boot. A draft purchase-and-sale agreement is circulating.
Above: Mass Audubon staff Deb Cary and Martha Gach on the proposed Valencia gift.