Browns' Woods, Littleton
SVT has teamed up with the Town of Littleton and the Littleton Conservation Trust to purchase and protect Browns' Woods. The protection of the property will add a critical link in a corridor of conservation land that includes Prouty Woods, Long Lake, and the Littleton Town Forest. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded a grant to the town that will provide well over half the funding required for the acquisition.
Thank you to Littleton voters, who overwhelmingly supported the purchase of Browns' Woods at a Special Town Meeting in the fall of 2020. The Town purchased the property in December, 2020, the building on site was demolished in June, 2021, and once a parking area has been established we will be able to complete a conservation restriction (CR) for the property, which will be held by SVT. The CR provides an extra layer of protection to ensure that the land always stays undeveloped and available for passive recreation.
Our appreciation also goes to town leaders and staff for their hard work in putting the project together and to Littleton Conservation Trust for helping with outreach and for making a very generous $10,000 contribution to SVT's fundraising campaign.
This mostly wooded property consists of 23.67 acres at 119 Tahattawan Road and Harwood Avenue in Littleton. The Town of Littleton has been interested in acquiring it for conservation, as it is part of a larger conservation corridor that includes the Town Forest to the south and Prouty Woods to the north.
The center of the property consists of wooded uplands, with approximately nine acres of wetland divided between the north and south ends of the property. A stream runs across the southern end of the property, and there is a small pond or vernal pool at the north end, along Tahattawan Road.
Browns' Woods Project Map. Click >> to see the Map Legend; click + or - to zoom in or out:
Why protect this land
In its natural state, Browns' Woods provides stormwater management, habitat for wildlife, air purification, carbon sequestration, and a place for people to visit and restore their spirits.
Yet, the Town had an appraisal done on the property that suggested eight homes could be built there if it was sold for development. This would result in land clearing, the creation of impervious surface in the form of roofs and driveways, and other interference that would essentially eliminate the natural values of the property.
Mass Audubon’s recently released “The Value of Nature” shows the value of protecting these lands. Forests capture about 7% of Massachusetts annual carbon emissions, and the average acre stores about 103 tons of carbon. Wetlands also provide a significant amount of carbon capture and storage and, as Mass Audubon points out, provide important resiliency functions by storing flood waters and slowly releasing them, allowing for groundwater recharge and drought resilience.
How we will protect this land
We received amazing news in September, 2020 that the Town of Littleton had received a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant of $763,000 for the project.
MVP Action Grants were set up to provide financial resources to towns to address climate change impacts such as from extreme weather, inland flooding, and severe heat. The grant program emphasizes the use of Nature Based Solutions, which rely on natural processes to solve problems associated with the built landscape. One such Nature Based Solution is land protection.
The grant also includes money for wetlands conservation and removal of the invasive weed, Phragmites. This restoration work will reduce the risk of flooding and will improve water quality and habitat. The protection of the onsite wetlands and the restoration of the Phragmites stand represent a Nature Based Solution to flooding and increased severe weather events. Likewise, the protection of the upland forest will help with carbon sequestration, groundwater quality, and stormwater runoff, and it will also provide cooling as temperatures increase.
Littleton residents committed to additional funding for the purchase, at a Special Town Meeting on October 18. We will also raise private funds to contribute to the purchase price and to cover SVT's costs to hold a conservation restriction on the property.
As part of the project, a single lot at the west end of the property will be subdivided and sold to the Town's Affordable Housing Trust for one affordable unit.
Finally, protecting this land advances ongoing planning for a cross-town bicycle/pedestrian commuting and shopping trail from the train station to Route 2A/119.