Memorial Forest Update, Trails are Open

We are pleased to let you know that we have re-opened the Desert Loop Trail at Memorial Forest.
We are pleased to let you know that we have re-opened the Desert Loop Trail at Memorial Forest.

As an update regarding our ongoing efforts to restore pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, we are pleased to let you know that we have re-opened the Desert Loop Trail at Memorial Forest.  

We have posted new signs to help you find your way, especially now with the snow cover.  As the snow thaws we will continue to tidy up the trail corridor.

Please remember to keep to the marked trail, and, enjoy!

Join the Crowd! Help Save 55 Acres in Berlin and Clinton

Photo by Brent Mathison

Thanks to the support of many individuals and foundations, we are on the way to success with the Ciesluk Forest project--a joint effort of SVT and the Towns of Berlin and Clinton to save 55 acres of habitat for threatened species. 

We are close to our fundraising goal, but we still need to raise $40,000 by February 28th. To close the gap, we've launched a crowdfunding page.

Please join the crowd!

Your donation--in any amount--will help protect 55 acres of important wildlife habitat. It will also help open a trail to the adjoining conservation lands (including Garfield Woods and Forty Acres), which span 248 acres of spectacular forests, cold water streams, and steep ledges.

Visit our crowdfunding page to help us bring this project home! And after you make your donation, please share the link with friends and family who care about protecting the environment.

Together, we can conserve these 55 acres forever! Thank you for your support.

P.S.  Good News! Just one day into our crowdfunding campaign, we have already raised 30% of our  $40,000 goal! But we still need your support to close the gap and raise the last $27,000 by February 28th!

"Owls" Are the Theme of Christmas Bird Count

Barred owl photo by Sue Feldberg
Barred owl photo by Sue Feldberg

The results from the 57th Concord Christmas Bird Count (CBC) have been tallied, and "owls" are the theme of the year. Held on January 2, the CBC had 290 volunteer counters, many of whom gathered at SVT headquarters the next to day to share their results.
The volunteers recorded 165 owls, including 45 northern saw-whet owls, 68 great horned owls (double last year's tally), and 31 barred owls. It's unclear whether these numbers indicate an increased population, a greater inclination for the owls to screech and be heard, or simply a greater effort on the part of counters to seek them out. Several counters rose well before dawn this year in the hopes of finding owls.
Red-bellied woodpeckers (418)  and pileated woodpeckers (65) also achieved new count highs, as did the horned lark (555). Overall, the counters tallied 82 species and 35,411 individual birds.

You can read the CBC's complete analysis and learn more about the count on the CBC website.


You're Invited: Annual Benefit Scheduled for March 11

Design by Nele Kapps

With a theme of "Creatures of the Night Gala," SVT's Annual Benefit is scheduled for Saturday, March 11, at the Sheraton Framingham.

Please make plans to join us for this annual fundraiser, where you'll enjoy:

  • Cocktails and Hors d'Oeuvres
  • Dinner and Dancing
  • Live Music by The Wayland Daddios
  • Silent & Live Auction

Get creative with your attire, and you could win the prize for the Best Costume!

In 2016, we held our most succesful fundraiser in the 23 years we've been hosting the Annual Benefit, and we are looking to top that success in 2017.

Check our Annual Benefit page for information about this year's auction: weekend accommodations, dining gift cards, event tickets, and more!

Tickets cost $150 per person. Buy tickets online by March 1. 

Memorial Forest Update

SVT's restoration project in Sudbury's Memorial Forest hit a snag in earlier this month because of weather conditions, but we are continuing the work and hope to complete it soon.

In early January, we put the work on hold because of unseasonally warm weather, which left the ground very soft. The cutting was complete, but we still needed to drag the trees from the forest. Because the ground was so soft, the large, heavy "skidder" that drags the trees out of the forest would have caused unacceptable damage.

When the colder weather returned on January 20, we restarted the operation. Going forward, weather will continue to determine the work schedule.

This week (January 23-27), both the Desert Loop trail and the trail along the rail bed will be closed to allow the skidder work to proceed.

We understand that everyone is eager to get back on the trails, but please observe the trail closure signs for your own safety. Your cooperation will also allow the workers to complete the job. Once the trees are cleared, we will re-mark the trails and re-open them as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience.

SVT Seeks Seasonal Land Steward, Property Ambassadors

SVT is seeking to hire a part-time Land Steward for a six-month position (April to October 2017). The Land Steward will assist with a variety of stewardship tasks in management of the 89 reservations (2,300 acres) and monitoring of 73 conservation restrictions (2,200 acres) managed by SVT. 

Responsibilities for this 25 hour/week position include monitoring properties, preparing reports, and locating property boundaries. The Land Steward will assist with property maintenance, including mowing trails, and will coordinate and train volunteers in invasive plant identification and control. Learn more about the Seasonal Land Steward position.

We are also seeking Volunteer Property Ambassadors for our reservations. If you love the outdoors, enjoy talking to new people, and are enthusiastic about SVT's work, then this is the opportunity for you.

Property Ambassadors "adopt" an SVT reservation and walk its trails twice a month from April to November. During your walk, we'd like you to engage other visitors and share information about both the reservation and SVT. We're hoping to spread awareness of SVT and the role we play in conserving the natural spaces that contribute to the quality of life in our local communities.

We especially need ambassadors for these properties:

  • Memorial Forest (Sudbury)
  • Greenways (Wayland) 
  • Gray Reservation (Sudbury)
  • Upper Mill Brook (Wayland)
  • Hop Brook (Framingham)
  • Baiting Brook (Framingham)
  • Henry's Hill (Framingham)

 Learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities (both field and office opportunites are available).

Full Moon Walk Scheduled for January 12

Photo by Harold McAleer

On Thursday, January 12, we invite you to enjoy an evening walk at Greenways Conservation Area in Wayland. Under the light of the full moon, Katy Allen of One Earth Collaborative will lead this trail walk through woodlands and fields and along the Sudbury River. Bring a poem, reading, song, or story about the moon to share if you would like.

Be sure to dress for the weather and wear warm, dry footwear. All ages welcome!

Registration required. Free for SVT members; $10 for non-members.

Register on our Calendar page.

Just in Time for School Vacation: New Story on Storybook Trail

SVT's Storybook Trail_JMarhoom

When your young children start going stir crazy during their winter break, why not take a hike on SVT’s Storybook Trail?  It’s the perfect way to get outside for an hour to enjoy fresh air and a little exercise.

The Storybook Trail is located along the George Lewis Memorial Trail at SVT’s Wolbach Farm in Sudbury. The trail consists of 12 stations along a path, each containing a few pages of a children's book. You can read the story in sections as you enjoy a walk through the woods. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear. The trail is 3/4 –mile long and could be snowy or muddy.

On Friday, December 23, we’ll be posting a new story on the trail: Over and Under the Snow, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. This tale of a girl and her father introduces children to the natural world of the wintertime. Readers learn what is happening beneath the snow, where some animals hibernate, while others travel unseen in underground tunnels.

The Storybook Trail was created by two local Girl Scouts in October 2016. The first book posted to the trail was The Gruffalo, the story of a lovable monster who lives in the woods. We'll be posting a new book with each passing season.


A Different Kind of Climate Change?

Photo by Jill Kern

In the days since our recent election, I’ve been thinking about SVT’s work and the future health of our environment. Regardless of the political climate, SVT believes a healthy, natural world is fundamental to our society and our wildlife.

Despite how votes were cast for president, I celebrate that voters across the country passed many local initiatives that will protect natural areas, once again demonstrating that preservation and conservation garner bipartisan support. I congratulate Billerica, one of SVT’s 36 communities, for passing the Community Preservation Act.

At the same time, there are disturbing hints about how the new federal administration plans to address natural areas and the environment. Based on what we heard during the campaign, it seems certain that environmental protection is not a priority; indeed, protections will likely be weakened.

Thus, our work is more vital than ever. We must double down and increase our efforts to protect and care for important natural areas that are home to wildlife and that define our communities. We must remain vigilant in opposing policies that weaken our ability to protect vulnerable habitat and farmland. To succeed, we must engage many more people to care and act for natural areas. 

Today, I ask you to champion our cause by enlisting those who wish to have a positive impact to join SVT. The need for champions has never been greater; the time to act has never been more important. 

With your help, SVT will remain your champion for the protection of natural areas, for everyone.

With gratitude for your support,

Lisa Vernegaard
Executive Director

P.S. To give the gift of membership this holiday season, please contact Michael Sanders, 978-443-5588, x111. 

Gowing's Swamp Improvements Are Underway

Gowing's Swamp, Photo by Cherrie Corey

During the week of December 5, 2016, SVT and our partners at the Concord Children’s Center and the Concord Land Conservation Trust (CLCT) will begin the first phase of a multi-year effort to improve the Gowing’s Swamp Conservation Area in Concord. The project partners plan to improve the scenic beauty and ecological health of this unique ecosystem while simultaneously improving access to the area, which is also known as “Thoreau’s Bog.”

We have already installed a new information kiosk at the main entrance to the adjacent Playscape at Ripley.  The Children’s Center will be installing an inclusive carousel and an elevated viewing platform.  Part of the habitat restoration work will also improve visitors’ ability to view the bog wetland.

In the week of December 5—the first week of the invasive plant control project—contractors will mechanically remove invasive plants and shrubs as well as trees that were damaged by a tornado in August 2016.  This will be followed by several herbicide treatments and manual control techniques over the next three years.  Most of the work will occur in the first year.

We are seeking volunteers to participate in this project
on December 10, 2016. See below.

The herbicide applications will be targeted at invasive plants and will have very low impact on other plants. The herbicides we have selected are readily absorbed by plants and effectively kill them.

We are using environmentally safe techniques that have been used in many biodiversity protection projects across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. SVT, CLCT, and the Concord Natural Resources Commission are members of the Suasco CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area) in which conservation professionals share their expertise and promote best management practices for invasive species management.

Questions? Contact SVT’s Laura Mattei at 978-443-5588 x134 or

This project is being supported by the Concord Community Preservation Fund
Additional funds provided by SVT, CLCT, Suasco CISMA, and neighbors of Gowing’s Swamp.

Volunteer Opportunity: 
Saturday, December 10, 2016, 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon. SVT will be holding a volunteer work session at Gowing's Swamp. Volunteers will be placing heavy plastic bags over the bases of cut glossy buckthorn stumps and manually removing small glossy buckthorn plants. If you would like to assist this effort, please contact Lisa Long at