Category Archives: Wildlife Sanctuaries

volunteer planting a tree at Arcadia

Planting a Forest with the Climate in Mind

More than 50 volunteers turned out in the last days of a mild October to help restore a floodplain forest at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Northampton. Together, these nature heroes planted around 1,500 of the 2,000 trees and shrubs going in the ground before winter.

Volunteer planting a tree at Arcadia
Volunteer at Arcadia

In this first phase of the project, 8.5 acres of field that is unproductive for both farming and grassland bird habitat will be turned back into land dominated by trees—including pin oaks, silver maples, and even American elm.  

Floodplain forests are uncommon in Massachusetts, hosting rare plants and wildlife habitat, storing stormwater during floods, and, like all forests, keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. 

But visitors to Arcadia who walk the Fern Trail are lucky to be able to see the large shagbark hickories and tulip trees, that make up one of the best examples of this natural community in the state. The restoration project will significantly expand Arcadia’s protection of this special forest type. 

Climate Implications 

This is a climate adaptation project, preparing us for the impacts that have already begun and will be continuing through the coming years and decades. 

Like all living things, trees have optimal conditions where they grow and reproduce. As temperatures continue to rise because of climate change, tree species’ ideal habitats are shifting northward; however, natural movement rates over generations of trees are generally too slow to keep up with rapid warming.  

This restoration project assists the trees’ northward migration in two ways.  First, for some of the species native to the Connecticut River Valley, saplings are being sourced from nurseries further south so they go into the soil already better adapted to warmer climates.  

Second, volunteers are planting trees that currently don’t occur in the wild in Massachusetts, such as sweet gum, a tree that exists in floodplain forests further south, up to southern Connecticut. These choices increase the likelihood that the forest will flourish in the future, since Massachusetts’s climate is projected to become comparable to the climate of the south between 2070 and 2100.  

The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration has selected this restoration for Priority Project designation and have been a key partner in the process. Mass Audubon is also partnering with the Nature Conservancy’s Christian Marks, who has planted his Dutch-elm-disease-tolerant American Elms on the site. 

— Jonah Keane, Arcadia’s Sanctuary Director

A Trip Down the Conn River

Becky Cushing-Gop, Director of Mass Audubon West, recently joined legislators, state officials, and environmental, cultural, and Indigenous leaders for a paddle down the Connecticut River on a gorgeous fall morning.  

The goal of the event, organized by State Senator Jo Comerford and nonprofit All Out Adventures, was public awareness about the Connecticut River’s importance to the environment, farms, economy, culture, as well as its significance to Indigenous communities.  

It was an opportunity to gather a broad range of stakeholders dedicated to the river’s well-being and a celebration of the partnerships that protect it. Becky highlighted two current projects Mass Audubon is working on with local and state partners to protect the nature of the Connecticut River Valley:

  • In West Springfield, just two miles from the Connecticut River, we’re in the process of permanently protecting the 1,500-acre Bear Hole Reservoir in partnership with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the City of West Springfield.  

After the trip Sen. Comerford, whose district includes communities located along the river and within its watershed, gave a shout-out on social media to Mass Audubon for its steadfast role in protecting and promoting the natural and environmental values of the Connecticut River Valley.

Manchaug Pond, Sutton, MA © Marty Jo Henry

Fall Fest Fun for All

Manchaug Pond, Sutton, MA © Marty Jo Henry
Manchaug Pond, Sutton, MA © Marty Jo Henry

From October 24–31, Mass Audubon’s Fall Fest offers in-person and virtual programs, free activities, and unique fall experiences for all ages throughout Massachusetts. Here are all the ways you can get in on the fun!

Family Fun Days at Wildwood

Kick off Fall Fest a little early at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp in Rindge, NH this weekend (October 17–18) where you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking, guided nature walks, archery, tie-dying, campfires, and more fall fun!

Fall Fest Programs

Howl at the full Halloween moon, prowl for owls, travel by hayride, and more with fall fest programs across the state, both in-person and online.

Nature Play Days

Create your own Fall Fest wherever you are with downloadable bingo cards, scavenger hunts, activity sheets, crafts, and more for Young Explorers during Nature Play Days.

Follow Along on Facebook

Make fall crafts, explore the outdoors, and meet spooky animals with us all week long through fun and interactive videos on our Facebook page.

Pumpkin Carving & Painting Contest

Enter our contest by sharing your artistic creations to our Facebook page from October 24–31. Try one of our pumpkin carving stencils or design your own masterpiece!

Fall-unteer at a Sanctuary

There are lots of great ways to give back to your community this fall by volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary near you. Volunteer projects take place outdoors, so you can spend some time working in nature and be socially distanced, too.

Exclusive Mass Audubon Experiences

During our “Fall Fun-raiser” silent auction, you can bid on exclusive Mass Audubon experiences like private strawberry-picking at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, unique animal encounters at Habitat in Belmont, Cape Cod adventures, and more.

Lauren Kras looking through binoculars

The Latest from Tidmarsh

Last spring, we asked for your help to raise the $3.6 million needed to turn a 481-acre former cranberry farm in Plymouth into a wildlife sanctuary for all to enjoy. And so many of you responded with enthusiasm and generosity.

Sanctuary Director Lauren Kras

Sanctuary Director Lauren Kras

Since that time, we officially purchased the property, welcomed the sanctuary’s inaugural director, created trails, installed signs, and added a parking lot. In January, the ribbon was figuratively cut on Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary. And that is just the beginning, thanks to the leadership of Lauren Kras, Sanctuary Director.

Lauren comes to Mass Audubon from New Hampshire where she served as the President of the Seacoast Chapter of NH Audubon and Conservation Easement Steward at the New Hampshire Forest Society. An avid birdwatcher, conservationist, photographer, and hiker, Lauren holds a Master of Science degree in Plant Biology from the University of New Hampshire where she studied rare, threatened, and endangered plant species.

Alder in bloom at Tidmarsh

Alder in bloom at Tidmarsh

Putting her skills to work immediately she began the sanctuary’s sandplain restoration, opening more trails, and working with members of the community to share this beautiful sanctuary and programs with people of all ages and abilities.

See the progress for yourself this spring. In addition to Statewide Volunteer Day projects and weekly Herring Walks with Living Observatory, there will be a family-friendly Open House on Saturday, June 2. The Open House will provide opportunities to explore on your own, join a guided walk, meet the Tidmarsh team, and watch for herons and kestrels soaring overhead.

ICYMI: Broad Meadow Brook’s Sanctuary Takeover

In case you missed it, Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester recently took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed to share a little bit about the sanctuary. Check out the posts!

ICYMI: Museum of American Bird Art’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, the Museum of American Bird Art (MABA) in Canton took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed for the week. Check out their posts below!

ICYMI: Long Pasture’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed last week. Check out the posts below and be sure to follow along this week to see what the Museum of American Bird Art has in store!

ICYMI: Laughing Brook’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden recently took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed. Check out the images below.

ICYMI: Wachusett Meadow’s Instagram Takeover

Our Sanctuary Instagram Takeover is back! Last week, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary shared a little bit about what you can see and do at the sanctuary. In case you missed it, check out the photos below. And stay tuned this week for a closer look at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden.


ICYMI: Trailside Museum’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton was the latest sanctuary to takover the Mass Audubon Instagram feed. See the week’s worth of posts below, and follow along this week to learn more about Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield.