Support SVT on Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, November 28, please show your support of local conservation by contributing to SVT's #GivingTuesday campaign. 

SVT is dedicating #GivingTuesday, the global day of giving that offsets the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to the protection of wildlife habitat on our local conservation land. 

Your donation to SVT for our #GivingTuesday campaign will support Healthy Habitats for Wildlife.

Learn more and donate.

Your gift can go twice as far: A generous SVT member has pledged to match total contributions up to $8500!

Protecting Horse Meadows Knoll in Harvard

Horse Meadows Knoll, Photo by Raj Das
Horse Meadows Reservoir, Photo by Raj Das
Horse Meadows Knoll, Photo by Raj Das
Horse Meadows Knoll, Photo by Raj Das

SVT and Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) have teamed up to protect Horse Meadows Knoll on Sherry Road. Overlooking the scenic Horse Meadows Reservoir, this forested land is traversed by a meandering stream and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including three rare species: Blanding’s turtle, eastern box turtle, and blue-spotted salamander.

With the addition of a small parking area and some trail improvements, SVT plans to turn this 45-acre property into a delightful place to hike, snowshoe, watch birds, or ride horses.

SVT has committed to raising $285,000 by September 2018 for this project; to date, we have raised $153,000. Learn more.

Conserving Berlin's Great Oak Farm

Great Oak Farm, Photo by Brent Mathison
Great Oak Farm, Photo by Brent Mathison
Great Oak Farm, Photo by Brent Mathison
Great Oak Farm, Photo by Brent Mathison

SVT and the Town of Berlin are working to conserve the beautiful, pristine Great Oak Farm, which spans 39 acres in northern Berlin. The current owners, the Bentzen family, want to ensure the land always remains viable as farmland and that the public can continue to enjoy it.

The Bentzens have agreed to sell the Town a conservation restriction (CR) on the land for $500,000, a generous discount off the appraised value of $746,000.

We initiated this project several years ago with hopes of completing it by Spring 2017—a goal that proved to be too ambitious. We now expect to close in the first half of 2018, after which we will open a public trail around the property and create a small parking area nearby. Learn more.

SVT Give Thanks for the Land Walk

Thanksgiving morning, join SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard for SVT’s Annual “Give Thanks for the Land” Walk.  November 23, 2017 10:00am to 12:00pm at Cedar Hill Reservation in Northborough and Westborough.  Work up your appetite for your Thanksgiving feast at this moderate to fast paced walk over uneven terrain, which includes some short but moderately steep trail sections.  A special SVT tradition!  No dogs please.  Can't attend?  Say thank you with a donation of your choice to SVT’s Giving Tuesday campaign in November at

Buy Fair Trade Gifts and Support SVT

25% of all purchases will benefit SVT
Delicious and beautifully packaged items are perfect as thoughtful hostess gifts, stocking  or as an indulgence for yourself. High quality chocolates, coffees (espresso and decaf too!), teas, honey products, and handmade quilling cards are available for purchase now through November 19.
Visit and enter code "SVT"
Purchase by November 19 and SVT will receive 25% of all sales. Items will be delivered to the SVT office by December 8.
*Fair trade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability. The purpose of fair trade is to promote fair pay and working conditions for vulnerable farmers and artisans, environmental sustainability, children’s rights, stable economies, and empowered communities.

Fundraising Day in Wayland - Sat Nov 11

Saturday, November 11, the combination Wayside Gourmet, Ace Hardware and Wayland Home and Design (80 Andrew Ave, Wayland Town Center) hosts fundraising day in support of SVT. 15% of all purchases from ACE Rewards members will be donated to SVT.  Not a Rewards member?  Sign up at the register and a portion of your purchases helps local and regional conservation.  Hours are 10:00am - 6:00pm. 

Affiliated with Ace Hardware, Wayland Home and Design is a family owned business, not a big box store. They own and operate their own store, which allows them to hand select unique products and brands that the big chains do not carry. 

Wayside Gourmet is a family business, created by Wayland Home and Design's owners.  A purveyor of exceptional products for both the professional chef and the everyday food enthusiast.

Fair Trade Night at Wolbach Farm

Fair Trade Night at SVT

Sudbury Valley Trustees is hosting a Fair Trade Night with local startup FairTrade Caravans, on Wednesday, November 8, 7:00 pm at Wolbach Farm, 18 Wolbach Road, Sudbury.

At this free event, Carol Fassino, founder of FairTrade Caravans, will explain what the term "fair trade" means, will provide a history of the fair trade movement,  and will explain why it is important for consumers to choose fair trade products. 

Fair trade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability. The purpose of fair trade is to promote fair pay and working conditions for vulnerable farmers and artisans, environmental sustainability, children’s rights, stable economies, and empowered communities.

Carol Fassino, Founder of FairTrade CaravansCarol founded FairTrade Caravans to raise awareness of the fair trade industry and the origins of the products many Americans consume and use every day. “World trade practices that currently exist promote the unequal distribution of wealth between nations," she said. "Buying products from producers in developing countries at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than traditional charity and aid.” 

In addition to learning about the fair trade industry, attendees of Fair Trade Night will sample an assortment of fair trade coffees, teas, chocolates, and honey items. If you choose to purchase any items, Fair Trade Caravans will donate 25% of the purchase price to SVT.

And for those who cannot attend Fair Trade Night, this offer is available until November 19 on the FairTrade Caravans website (type SVT in the "Have a code?" box and press "enter").

Register for Fair Trade Night

Questions? Contact Debbie Pullen at SVT.

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 and Practices governing the operations of land trusts.  We are being renewed under the 2004 Standards and Practices. (See a PDF).

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.