The Gift of a Not-So-New Sanctuary in Attleboro

Charlie Wyman, Senior Land Protection Specialist
Four years ago this week, a new Mass Audubon sanctuary was born. The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, responding to the avowed commitment of their Order to “protect the integrity of creation,” dedicated 117 acres of woodland and wetland at the rear of the Shrine to conservation. In a complicated project facilitated by the Religious Lands Conservancy and involving three conservation partners, the Shrine granted a perpetual conservation restriction on the property to the City of Attleboro and the Attleboro Land Trust, and then permanently transferred management of the property to Mass Audubon for Pond at Attleboro Springs operation as a publicly accessible wildlife sanctuary, while retaining title to the land.

This unique arrangement served the parties well at the time. After four years, though, La Salette has concluded that ownership should be combined with stewardship responsibility, and has generously gifted title to the property to Mass Audubon. We are very grateful for this latest act of generosity and environmental commitment by La Salette.

Visitors to Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary at La Salette will notice no difference with this change, as the property has been operated as a Mass Audubon sanctuary since 2009. And the change represents no weakening of our partnership with the Shrine: we stay in close touch, coordinate our programs, and count each other as good friends.

People enjoy our sanctuaries for many reasons, and for some, nature and faith are closely aligned. Many Shrine visitors find in the sanctuary not only an experience of nature but also a place for contemplation, solitude, and peace. “People like to have a bold vision of the Almighty speaking to them,” noted Father Roger Plante, who conceived and championed the protection effort, “but the tiniest grain of sand, flower or insect can put you in touch with God.” Whether you seek a contemplative walk, or a good hike in the woods, or an experience with nature along our all-persons accessible nature trail, our Attleboro Springs sanctuary welcomes you.