A Campaign to Protect 500 Acres in Berlin, Boylston & Northborough
|FACTS AND FIGURES|
Berlin, Boylston and Northborough
500 acres of protected land
Sudbury Valley Trustees
Town of Berlin
Town of Northborough
Commonwealth of MA
|BENEFIT TO AREA
Protect important wildlife habitat
Maintain working farmland
Increase recreational opportunities
Protect air and water quality
On the western edge of the Sudbury Valley Trustees region in the towns of Berlin, Boylston, and Northborough, lies some of the most intact and important unprotected wildlife habitat in eastern Massachusetts.
Working in a nine-square mile area around Mount Pisgah and the Wachusett Reservoir (see map of region), the partners in the Tri-Town Landscape Protection Project seek to protect 500 acres of this land, comprised of quality habitat, working farms, and recreational trails, connecting valuable natural landscapes with the potential to link this area up to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire though a network of conservation land.
The project was initiated in 2014. As of August 2016, we have conserved 10 properties, totalling 268 acres (see "Tri-Town Project: Conserved Properties"). There are 11 additional properties and 221 additional acres in the pipeline for the coming year.
The TTLP project will conserve one of the largest, unprotected, roadless areas in the Boston MetroWest region. Along with land previously protected by SVT, the towns of Berlin and Northborough and by the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, this area encompasses 712 acres of state-designated BioMap2 Core Habitat—the most viable habitat for rare species and natural communities in Massachusetts. It is also a vital link in a forested wildlife corridor covering thousands of acres and used by deer, moose, coyote, fisher, turkey, black bear, turtles, and salamanders. It is home to interior focal species such as the black rat snake and northern waterthrush and is Priority Habitat for the wood turtle and eastern box turtle, both of which are Species of Special Concern in Massachusetts.
Within the project area the TTLP also seeks to protect Wrack Meadow Woods, much of which is owned by the Town of Boylston, and the Wrack Meadow Brook perennial stream that flows into the Assabet River. Comprising wooded upland and wetland, this BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape has a high index of ecological integrity according to the 2005 Conservation Assessment and Prioritization Study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Massachusetts Audubon Society, Losing Ground, 2014).
Additionally, the TTLP seeks to connect the project area with a larger conserved landscape. The northwest corner of the project area abuts MA Division of Conservation and Recreation protected watershed lands around the Wachusett Reservoir, which extend as far as Mt. Wachusett to the west. From there, conserved lands extend further west to the Quabbin Reservoir. From the Quabbin, another land trust coalition is working to conserve land up to New Hampshire’s Cardigan Mountain and into the White Mountain National Forest. The Nature Conservancy has identified almost the entire project area and 60% of the project acreage as a Focal Area for Climate Change Resilience.
Finally, the TTLP protection efforts are consistent with plans for smart growth in the region. The project area lies in a vulnerable location only 40 miles west of Boston and less than 20 miles from Worcester. Convenient to Interstates 495 and 290, the region was experiencing pressure from development when the recession hit in 2008, and signs indicate that development activity is picking up again as the economy improves. According to Mass Audubon’s 2014 Losing Ground report, Berlin, Boylston, and Northborough are part of the “sprawl frontier” in Massachusetts. Because this area includes a significant amount of sensitive habitat as well as some of the headwaters of the Assabet River, development here would have an especially damaging impact on downstream resources and on wildlife in the region. In addition to protecting the land from development, the TTLP will also add several miles of trails to an existing system, thereby expanding recreational opportunities and improving the health and scenic conditions for the residents of the area.
Ultimately the TTLP will conserve at least 500 acres, create a connected landscape of conservation land that will link into a wildlife corridor that reaches into the White Mountain National Forest, preserve Massachusetts' pastoral heritage, increase access to outdoor recreation, and create a lasting legacy of conservation for generations to come.