Ciesluk Forest - Garfield Woods Expansion

Crowdfunding Update: Thank you to everyone who donated during our crowdfunding campaign from February 1 to March 12. Your donations enabled us to raise nearly $38,000 toward the protection of Ciesluk Forest. We fell slightly short of our $40,000 goal, so we are still accepting donations on our own site. Please help us reach goal!

Donate now

SVT is working in partnership with the Towns of Berlin and Clinton to conserve a 55-acre property that spans the two towns and abuts 193 acres of conservation land, including SVT’s Garfield Woods and Berlin's Forty Caves. This property, with more than 40 acres of BioMap2 Core Habitat, is an extremely important natural resource.

The Towns are seeking to purchase the land in early 2017, and SVT plans to have trails on the property open to the public the following summer! Trails on the property will be accessible by two new parking areas that will be created on Allen Road in Berlin and on Francis Street in Clinton. The parking areas and trails will also be the new points of access for SVT’s Garfield Woods and the Town of Berlin’s Forty Caves reservations.

With the help of individuals and foundations, we’re close to our fundraising goal for the project -  $140,000! With YOUR help we hope to close the gap and raise $40,000 through our crowdfunding campaign - Launching on February 1st and running through February 28th!

Your support will allow us to protect this important wildlife habitat and create two parking areas and trail heads to allow residents and visitors of Berlin and Clinton to access 248 acres of spectacular forests, cold water streams, and steep ledges.  Thank you for your support in ensuring this important project is a success!  Donate now.

Why protect this land

The protection of the Ciesluk Forest will close a gap in the existing conservation land around the property, and it will provide a buffer for the significant natural resources that this property and the neighboring conservation areas host. 

The Ciesluk Forest is located in the foothills of the Wattaquodock Range, straddling the Nashua and SuAsCo Rivers watersheds, which in turn lie entirely within the Merrimack River Watershed. The Merrimack River Watershed was recently named the most threatened watershed in the country by the United States Forest Service, and the Merrimack River was named one of the 10 most threatened rivers in the United States according to the 2016 report by American Rivers. Thus, the protection of the Merrimack River watershed is now more crucial than ever.

The Ciesluk Forest is also a vital link in an extensive wildlife corridor, and 2/3 of the property is recognized by the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as BioMap2 Core Habitat for threatened species under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.  (Read about two threatened species that need the habitat provided by Ciesluk Forest.)

In addition, protection of the Ciesluk Forest will protect important water resources. The property is within close proximity to the Nashua River and it hosts a portion of North Brook, a cold water stream that runs through the property for 4700 feet. 

Finally, Ciesluk Forest connects to 193 acres of immediately adjacent conservation land – including SVT’s Garfield Woods Reservation and the Town of Berlin’s Forty Caves and Musche Woods Conservation Areas - offering abundant opportunities for passive recreation.

Existing farm roads and trails are part of an extensive trail network that is suitable for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and skiing, as well as for environmental education outings. The trails on the abutting Garfield Woods and Forty Caves properties have long been popular, though the only entrance was closed in recent years due to safety issues with an active railroad line. The acquisition of the Ciesluk Forest will expand the trail network and allow SVT to re-open the trails by creating two trail heads on the property – one on Allen Road in Berlin and one on Francis Street in Clinton. 

View the Ciesluk Forest Project Map

How we will protect this land

SVT and the Towns of Berlin and Clinton seek to conserve this property in perpetuity.

The Towns, with SVT’s assistance on negotiating, managing, and fundraising for the transaction, will become the owners of the land. Each town will own the portion of the property that lies within its borders and will hold the land under the care and control of the Conservation Commissions for conservation purposes. 

Additionally, SVT will hold a Conservation Restriction over the land to ensure that it is conserved forever. SVT will also steward and manage the property for wildlife habitat, water quality, and passive recreation.  

Fundraising Campaign

Both towns have been awarded a Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will cover approximately 60% of the project costs! Additionally, the Town of Berlin will contribute more than $66,000 to the acquisition and project cost. SVT hopes to raise a needed additional $140,000 to support the project - $40,000 of which we hoped to raise through our crowdfunding campaign.

Your support matters! Donate to support this project in any amount.

The goal

The success of the project will be shown in ownership of the property under the care and control of the Conservation Commissions of the two Towns, giving it Article 97 protection; transfer of a Conservation Restriction to SVT, giving the property additional protection, management, and legal defense in perpetuity; the protection of crucial wildlife habitat and watershed lands; and the ability of thousands of residents to enjoy the beauty of the property through recreational opportunities and environmental education programs.

Project history

The Ciesluk Forest has gone through many iterations of farming and foresty throughout its history, with well established stone walls marking all of its boundaries. In its most recent history it was owned by a well known town resident, a bachelor who was happy to have the area children playing on his property. Countless area residents have recounted tales of helping the owner with property chores and exploring the property at will. A few decades ago, during his lifetime, the owner donating a portion of his property, now known as Forty Caves, to the Town of Berlin for conservation. Now his nieces and nephews, who have inherited his land, are ensuring that the remainder is conserved as well. 


PDF icon View the Ciesluk Forest Project Map