Bob Ford, Land Protection Specialist
After three years of successfully working with the Town of Ashland and Northeastern University (NU) to advance the protection of the 120-acre Warren Woods land, we are pleased to report that the Warren Woods land has been successfully acquired by the Town for conservation and historic preservation purposes! Mass Audubon helped facilitate this outcome in a variety of ways, from pledging funds toward the purchase, pre-acquisition negotiations, planning, and appraisals, to purchase and financing meetings with Ashland and NU officials, to securing the necessary Town Meeting approvals.
If you have been following this story you know that Warren Woods is named after Henry Ellis Warren, a pre-eminent Ashland inventor, holder of 135 patents, and philanthropist who is known as the “Father of the Electric Clock”. His numerous inventions and patents spawned modern time keeping of today, led to advancements in Timex wristwatch technology, and energy delivery systems for General Electric. Mr. Warren is shown in the photo to the right of Albert Einstein. He was also a lover of nature responsible for purchasing and protecting the Ashland Town Forest and donated his house and land to NU at the time of his death. When informed that NU was considering selling the land for a large-scale residential development, Ashland and Mass Audubon worked together to develop different options for the future of the land to benefit the Town and help secure Mr. Warren’s legacy.
The land was important to the local community for many reasons, including that it represented the last opportunity to complete a contiguous corridor of highly important open space, conservation land, and trails which includes the Ashland State Forest and public reservoir, land protected by the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, Town of Holliston Town Forest, Mass Audubon’s Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary, and additional land protected by conservation restrictions held by Mass Audubon at Broad Hill. Protecting Warren Woods creates one of the largest corridors of permanently protected open space in the metrowest area inside Route 495.
The purchase was made possible by a recent state LAND grant award of $500,000, funding from the Ashland Community Preservation Act, and the support of many residents and Town officials. Mass Audubon has agreed to contribute $150,000 to the project and will hold a Conservation Restriction on the property.
An abutting 23-acre portion of NU land in the neighboring town of Holliston is also being considered for protection by Mass Audubon and other conservation partners.