Pull a little buckthorn...learn about habitat restoration

SVT is hosting a buckthorn pull and educational walk on Saturday, October 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at our Memorial Forest Reservation in Sudbury.

Help us manage buckthorn at this beautiful and ecologically significant property! We will be manually pulling this invasive species from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., working to ensure it does not take over and crowd out native plants. Glossy buckthorn was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant, but its aggressive growth has created problems in many areas. Buckthorn produces its leaves earlier in the spring and retains them later into the fall than many native plants. This casts a dense shade that can prevent tree seedlings from establishing. Over time, buckthorn can completely eliminate native plant diversity in the understory.

After the buckthorn pull, SVT staff will lead a 45-minute walkinig tour of the reservation. Memorial Forest is part of the Desert Natural Area, a biologically rich area that SVT and our partners have been working to restore over the past two decades. The restoration effort has focused on revitalizing pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, a globally rare habitat that provides home for declining species such as the whip-poor-will.

Please wear long pants and bring water, sunscreen, and work gloves (if you have them).

Please register through the New England Stewardship Network so we'll know how many people are coming.

Contact Paige Dolci at SVT:
978-443-5588 x137

SVT Seeks Renewal of Accreditation

SVT is seeking renewal of our accreditation with LTAC.

SVT is proud to be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission (LTAC), an independent program of the national Land Trust Alliance. The accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands.

SVT was first accredited in 2013, and we will be applying to renew our accreditation this fall. As part of the process, the LTAC seeks public input on how well an applicant complies with the standards governing the operations of land trusts. You can learn more about the standards and the accreditation program at

If you would like to provide comments about our work, please send them by e-mail to

Or, you can mail comments to:

Attn: Public Comments
36 Phila Street, Suite 2
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

Comments will be most useful by December 31, 2017. Thank you.

Searching for Elusive Turtles

Biologist Scott Egan and his canine assistant, Jadis.

In September, I had the opportunity to join a group of field biologists as they searched for two rare turtle species at SVT’s Memorial Forest Reservation in Sudbury: the wood turtle and the eastern box turtle. The field biologists are conducting multiple visits to Memorial Forest in an effort to locate these rare and hard-to-find turtles.

Any wood turtles or eastern box turtles found during the survey will be fitted with radio transmitters for tracking. The information gathered will be valuable not only to Sudbury Valley Trustees, but to all conservation land owners. An understanding of the prevalence and movement of these rare species will help us create better land management plans for our reservations.

Wood turtles are medium-sized with orange coloration on their legs and neck. Wood turtles spend the spring and summer in mixed or deciduous forests, hay fields, and wetlands, while in late summer and early fall they move to streams for hibernation. These turtles occasionally exhibit a strange feeding behavior called “stomping.” The turtle stomps on the ground, alternating its front feet to cause vibrations in the soil. Earthworms, thinking that the vibration is rainfall, move to the surface to avoid drowning and are quickly devoured by the hungry wood turtle.

Eastern box turtles, in comparison, are small terrestrial turtles with oval, high-domed shells of variable coloration. This turtle can be found in several types of habitats—including brushy fields and woodlands—though it tends to hibernate in upland forest, burrowing under the soft ground to stay warm. The eastern box turtle’s name originates from its ability to completely enclose its head, legs, and tail within the shell. Both species are active from early to mid-April through mid- to late-October.

The biologists are conducting their survey in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. They are using two survey methods—meander searches, in which they spread out and walk through the forest, and scent tracking, in which a trained dog searches for the turtles. Scent tracking is accepted by the Massachusetts National Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) as a valid survey method for turtles. The specific dog working on this survey, Jadis, has been very successful on other projects. Biologist Scott Egan noted that in a previous survey, Jadis located more turtles than four biologists combined!

Unfortunately, we did not find turtles on the day I joined the survey team, but we did find other wildlife, including a yellow spotted salamander and a ring-necked snake, with its charcoal-colored back and its vibrant, yellow belly. Thus far, the biologists have not located turtles.

Although the turtle survey itself is exciting, the reason for its occurrence is not. Eversource is proposing to construct a new transmission line along the MBTA Right-of-Way that connects Sudbury and Hudson. This abandoned rail line serves as the northern boundary of Memorial Forest and bisects the Desert Natural Area, a biologically rich area which SVT and its many partners have been working to restore over the past two decades.

To determine the environmental impact of its proposed project, Eversource is being required to assess the importance of the area to these rare turtles. The NHESP has listed both of these turtles as “special concern” species of Massachusetts, and a common threat to their survival is new development. Sudbury Valley Trustees is opposing the transmission line due to the significant impact the project would have on the Desert Natural Area and its wildlife.

By Paige Dolci, Land Stewardship Coordinator, TerraCorps-AmeriCorps

Welcome to Three New AmeriCorps Members

Tempe Staples, Paige Dolci, and Matt Donovan--2017 AmeriCorps Members

In early September, three new TerraCorps-AmeriCorps members began a year of service at SVT. The Massachusetts-based TerraCorps is part of the national AmeriCorps program, which engages more than 75,000 Americans in service at nonprofit organizations across the country each year.

We are delighted to welcome these three members to SVT:

Paige Dolci is excited to be serving as SVT's Land Stewardship Coordinator. Paige graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Analysis and Policy. She has assisted with research on climate change and nutrient cycling both in Boston and abroad in New Zealand and has held two positions with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, an organization working to restore the local park system and reconnect people with nature.

​Most recently, Paige completed a directed study on environmental justice and worked as Mass Audubon's Conservation Policy Intern. Paige is interested in preserving biodiversity through habitat management, mitigating climate change using nature-based solutions, and encouraging a more sustainable, equitable use of ecosystem services.

Matt Donovan will be serving as our Community Engagement Coordinator. Matt hails from Westwood, MA, but now resides in Boston. In May, he received a B.S. in International Politics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During his time in college, Matt participated in several activities in the realm of international affairs, such as staffing Model U.N. conferences, becoming proficient in Spanish, and interning at the U.S. Senate and in foreign relations lobbying.

Outside of class and the office, Matt was a DJ for Georgetown’s college radio station and worked as a tour guide for prospective students. He is excited to learn the basics of conservation and the challenges and solutions of nonprofit outreach, communications, and fundraising.

Tempe Staples is a life-long resident of Littleton and will be serving as SVT's Regional Conservation Coordinator. She holds a B.A. from Hoffstra University in Global Studies & Geography with a dual focus in Community Health and Environmental Sustainability. While living on urban Long Island, she became involved with a multitude of community organizing and social service internships and she held a summer fellowship at the UN in Manhattan, paving the way for an opportunity to work at the Massachusetts State House. There, Tempe was deeply involved with economic development grants and exercised her Geographic Information System (GIS) skills.

Dedicated to environmental and human health, Tempe looks forward to serving SVT's mission and engaging with the watershed's more urban communities in need of land protection.


SVT Presents Annual Conservation Awards

Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard, far left, and the award recipients: Stephen Kossuth, Lucas Allen, Isaac Bernstein, Sue Kurys, Alison Field-Juma, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and Fred Ballou. (Tim Dowling and Michelle Duffy were not in attendance.)
Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard and Mainstone Farm owner Dev Hamlens led the toast to the successful protection of the property.
The social hour featured a variety of snacks, including these cookies from Sweet Annabelle's Cookies that were decorated to look like Belted Galloways.
Rand Wentworth, President Emeritus of the Land Trust Alliance, spoke about the importance of local land conservation efforts.
Senator Jamie Eldridge spoke to the gathering after receiving the Distinguished Public Service Award.

SVT held its 64th Annual Meeting on the afternoon of Sunday, September 10, atop Mainstone Farm in Wayland. The Town of Wayland and SVT protected this beautiful property in April 2017, when we purchased conservation restrictions on 218 acres of the land.

Prior to the meeting, we led attendees on a tour of the land and then toasted to the success of the conservation effort. Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard introduced Dev Hamlen, owner of Mainstone Farm, who thanked the many people who worked so hard on the project.  Lisa also introduced Gretchen Schuler, chair of the Wayland Community Preservation Committee, which was instrumental in encouraging the voters of Wayland to approve the purchase of the conservation restrictions.

Annual Conservation Awards

As always, a highlight of the Annual Meeting itself was the presentation of our annual conservation awards.

We acknowledged the work of four area youths with our Youth Stewardship Awards:

  • Lucas Allen of Sudbury, who completed his Eagle Project with SVT at Brues Woods in Sudbury by replacing a bridge near the Nixon School.
  • Isaac Bernstein of Sudbury, who volunteered with SVT along our trails in Sudbury over the course of a year, acting as a Trail Steward.
  • Tim Dowling of Wayland, who helped with community outreach over the course of three school years at Wayland High School.
  • Stephen Kossuth of Sudbury, who completed his Eagle Project with SVT at Gray Reservation in Sudbury by replacing a foot bridge and helping to restore adjacent banks along Hop Brook.

In addition, Michelle Duffy of Arlington, MA, was named the Steward of the Land. This award honors a volunteer land steward who exemplifies the respect for open space and dedication to ecological management that is key to SVT’s success. Michelle joined SVT in August 2016 as a Fall Stewardship Assistant Intern, and she worked two mornings per week through June 2017. She researched reservation boundaries and then marked them in the field. She enthusiastically learned all of the new aspects of that work, from tracking down past deeds and researching abutting land plans, to declinating a compass and re-discovering stubbornly hidden drill holes in stone walls.

We presented the Morgan Volunteer Award to Sue Kurys of Hopkinton. Established to acknowledge the contributions made by Allen and Alice Morgan to SVT, this award recognizes dedicated members who give unselfishly of their time and talents in support of SVT’s work. During the two years she has been a volunteer, Sue has tirelessly worked to help us organize, name, and tag the tens of thousands of photographs we maintain in our network folders. If it’s true that a photograph is worth a thousand words, then Sue has enabled us to communicate millions of visual words.   

Alison Field-Juma, Executive Director of OARS, received the Lewis Conservation Award. Named in honor of SVT co-founder George Lewis, this award recognizes those who demonstrate a broad commitment to conservation in the SVT region and who encourage others to take action to protect the environment. Alison has been a strong advocate for clean water and for building climate-change resilience into state and local water resource planning and drought response. She has been a leader in developing state-wide guidance to tackle invasive water chestnut, and developing Blue and Green Trails along the rivers. Under her guidance, OARS has increased educational programming to help underserved children find joy and learning in nature.

Finally, we presented the Distinguished Public Service Award to State Senator Jamie Eldridge. Senator Eldridge has represented a portion of SVT’s 36-town service area since 2002, first as a State Representative, and then, since 2009, as State Senator of the Middlesex and Worcester District. Over these 15 years, Senator Eldridge has championed myriad environmental causes, including the protection of our precious water resources, the advancement of renewable energy, the fight against new gas and electric lines that bisect the state’s conservation areas, and the need to strengthen the protection of preserved land. He is one of SVT's strongest allies in the state house.

We thank all of the award winners for their contributions to regional conservation.

New Board President Andy Magee also acknowledged several SVT supporters who have been named Life Members because of their significant support of SVT: Lisa and Jim Valone, Ed Marram and Karen Carpenter, Stuart and Dana Davies, Forrest Berkley and Marcie Tyre, and Fred and Janet Ballou.

After the award presentations, everyone enjoyed a keynote address from Rand Wentworth, President Emeritus of the national Land Trust Alliance and currently a Senior Fellow in Environmental Leadership at Harvard University. Rand spoke about hope in a time of anxiety and discussed the important role that local land trusts—and their supporters—play in championing responses to climate change.

Thank You

SVT thanks the Hamlen Family and the Mainstone Farm staff for hosting our Annual Meeting.

We also thank our meeting sponsors:

Additional thanks to the following: The Morgan Family, Cecilia Sharma, Epsilon Associates, Sweet Annabelle’s Cookies, Wayside Gourmet, Panera Bread, Fair Trade Caravans, Stop&Shop, and Donelan’s Supermarkets. 

Beer in the Barn: The Fall Edition

Our Spring Beer in the Barn event was so popular, we're having an encore!    

SVT members are invited to a Member-Guest beer tasting in the barn at Wolbach Farm.

Admission is free, but each member who attends must bring a non-member guest.  Encourage your friends and family to learn about SVT and become members for themselves. 

Enjoy a sampling of craft beers from local brewers, including Rapscallion Table & Tap in Acton.

Saturday, October 21
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Wolbach Farm
18 Wolbach Road

Read more and register. Registration required.

2017 Annual Meeting Scheduled for September 10

Mainstone Farm--View from the Top. Photo by Raj Das

Make plans to attend our Annual Meeting at Mainstone Farm in Wayland, the site of one of our largest land protection projects. Mainstone Farm was protected in April 2017 when the Town of Wayland and SVT purchased conservation restrictions on this 218-acre property.

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Mainstone Farm
87 Old Connecticut Path
(Click here to obtain Google Map Directions)

The meeting will be held outside under a tent, so please dress appropriately. Please: no dogs.

Shoes: We recommend sturdy shoes, as the meeting is being held on a recently mowed field and the ground is uneven. Avoid sandals, heels, and your favorite dress shoes.

Parking: Parking attendants will direct you to the parking lot, which is at the top of Mainstone Farm.

2:00 - 3:00
Social Hour & Trail Walks

Enjoy light refreshments and take a guided tour of the property.
(Please RSVP if you want to join a trail walk; see below.)

  • 30-minute guided walk will start at 2:10 sharp. Please be parked and ready to go by 2:05.
  • 10-minute guided walks will start at 2:20 and 2:30.

3:00 - 3:15
Celebrate Mainstone Farm's Protection

Join us in a toast to the project's success. 

3:30 - 5:15
Business Meeting

Election of Board Members, a recap of the past year, presentation of annual conservation awards, keynote address.

Keynote Topic: Hope in a Time of Anxiety

Keynote speaker: Rand Wentworth, president emeritus of the Land Trust Alliance and currently the Louis Bacon Senior Fellow in Environmental Leadership in the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University.

Election of Board Members

We will be voting on new officers and new board members.

See the slate of candidates and read bios of the first-time nominees.

Trail Walks

We will have one 30-minute walk at 2:10. If you are interested in attending this walk, please be parked and ready to go by 2:05. 

We will have two shorter walks (10-15 minutes) at 2:20 and 2:30. 

RSVPs appreciated so we can plan refreshments and the trail walks. No dogs, please.
978-443-5588, x110

Thank you

Thank you to the Hamlen Family for generously allowing us to hold the meeting at Mainstone Farm.

Also, thank you to Village Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank,  Baldwin Insurance Agency, and Roche Bros. for their support of our Annual Meeting.


Results of Red Flag Project

88. That's how many piles of dog waste we found along the loop trail of Gray Reservation in Sudbury this past spring. We marked these piles with small flags to draw attention to the amount of dog waste being left on trails.

SVT embarked on the Red Flag project at the suggestion of Emily Anderson, one of our MassLIFT-AmeriCorps members. Emily wanted to remind dog owners that dog waste is more than an unsightly nuisance. Dog waste carries bacteria that have serious, harmful impacts on the land and water in the area.  SVT has published a brochure that explains these impacts.

By flagging the dog waste, Emily hoped to bring attention to how must waste is left along our trails. She was amazed to place 88 flags along a trail that takes only 20 minutes to walk. And this was at a reservation where SVT provides a dog waste station with bags and a bin for disposal.

Sydney and Robin Merrill, a local mother-daughter team who serve as volunteer Preserve Stewards at Gray, said the Red Flag project seems to have had a positive effect. They "have seen significantly fewer instances of dog waste on and along the main trail since the awareness effort ended. For the health of all walkers and dogs, the preservation of plant and wildlife habitat, and the enjoyment of the land and trails by all, we are hopeful dog walkers will continue to pick up after their dogs.”

We appreciate the efforts of dog owners who do pick up after their dogs, and we hope our Red Flag Project will encourage all dog walkers to do so. Thank you.

SVT Featured on Chronicle

SVT was delighted to be featured during the July 5 episode of Chronicle, the WCVB Channel 5 nightly magazine show. The episode described businesses, groups, and landmarks in the Town of Sudbury, which has the 01776 zip code--the most patriotic zip code in the country.

In one segment, SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard invited the public to visit our beautiful Wolbach Farm headquarters to enjoy the grounds and walk the Lewis Trail. 

In another segment, which focused on efforts to fight an Eversource proposal to place powerlines through local conservation lands, Director of Stewardship Laura Mattei described the spiritual connection that many people feel to natural spaces. The show featured stunning images of our Memorial Forest Reservation and Hop Brook.

We are doubly thrilled that this story has already prompted at least one Massachusetts resident to become an SVT supporter.

Watch the entire show, or check out the segments that feature SVT (Segment 2Segment 4), and share it with others.



Storybook Trail Gets New Tale for Summer

The first of July brought a new story to the Storybook Trail at Wolbach Farm in Sudbury: The Great Kapok Tree.

Set in the Amazon Rain Forest, this illustrated tale by Lynne Cherry will help young children learn how a single tree can be home to an array of animals. 

The 3/4-mile Storybook Trail includes 12 stations, each of which contains a page or two of a book written for young readers. Walking the trail with your children is a great way to combine reading with nature exploration. (Please wear proper footwear and clothing for walking through the woods.)