Peppercorn Hill - Kelly Parcels, Upton

Existing trails cross the Kelly parcels
Old stone walls crisscross Peppercorn Hill
Large rock outcrops are a feature of the site

SVT is working with the Metacomet Land Trust (MLT) and the Town of Upton to protect the Kelly Property on the eastern edge of Upton and add it to the popular Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area.

The privately owned Kelly Property sits within the Peppercorn Hill land and abuts the Rockwood Meadows Open Space. The land hosts mature forests, wetlands, tributary streams of Mill River, a vernal pool, and impressive rocky outcrops. In addition, about 1 mile of the Peppercorn Hill trail network crosses this land.

By conserving the Kelly Property, we will protect its ecological features, close a gap in the Conservation Area, and ensure the public always has access to the entire trail network.

Project Snapshot
The Kelly Property covers four parcels. During a Fall 2020 Town Meeting, Upton voters approved the use of Community Preservation Act funds to purchase three of the parcels. MLT plans to buy the fourth and has received a $56,500 Conservation Partnership grant toward the purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

SVT is assisting MLT with the purchase, and we set out to raise $73,000 for the sale to close. Going forward, SVT will hold conservation restrictions on all four parcels to ensure their ecological values are protected forever. 

Update - May 26, 2021: We have reached our fundraising goal! Thank you to everyone who supported this project. We will continue to work with our partners at Metacomet Land Trust and the Town of Upton to close on the purchase by June 30.  We look forward to officially welcoming everyone to the trails later this year.

 

Property Description

The Kelly Property consists of four parcels that cover approximately 67 acres of land. (The Town of Upton is working to purchase three of the parcels. The Metacomet Land Trust is working to purchase the fourth.)

The property consists of wetlands and mature mixed upland coniferous and deciduous forest. Tributary streams of Mill River flow through the property.  

Impressive rocky outcrops overlook the stream and wetlands. A previously unmapped potential vernal pool is perched high above the wetlands. 

A beaver impoundment and an uncommon sedge-dominated wetland are present on the parcel that MLT plans to purchase.

Trails on the property are used by the public and link to trails on adjacent protected open space. 

Kelly Property Project Map. Click >> to see the Map Legend; click + or - to zoom in or out.

 

Why protect this land

The Kelly Property is directly adjacent to over 300 acres of permanently protected open space owned by the Town of Upton and the Rockwood Meadows Association. The town-owned land, known as the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area, was purchased by Upton in 1985 in part, with a “Self Help” grant from the Commonwealth.

The Rockwood Meadows Open Space is protected by a conservation restriction recorded in 2015 and co-held by the Town of Upton and the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT). Other contiguous protected open space includes the Snow Family Conservation Area off East Street in Upton and Town of Milford open space off Camp Street.

All four Kelly parcels are contiguous with the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area and contain trails used by the public. An overlook on the Kelly Property near the top of Peppercorn Hill provides a spectacular long distance view to the west.

A small portion of the property is considered BioMap2 Core Habitat.

Though the parcels are currently landlocked, they could be combined with other adjacent properties for development purposes someday. Purchasing them now ensures the unique natural features and public trails will be protected in perpetuity. 

How we will protect this land

The unprotected part of Peppercorn Hill consists of four parcels totalling nearly seventy acres, and the Kelly family has agreed to sell them for $260,000. Additional costs to complete the transaction, including a very expensive survey of the land, bring the total estimated project cost to $320,000.

Residents approved the purchase at a Special Town Meeting on November 10, 2020. 

In order to reduce the cost to the Town's Community Preservation Fund, Metacomet Land Trust and SVT have offered to purchase one of the parcels, which spans 23.43 acres and is valued at $103,000. MLT has received a state Conservation Partnership grant for $56,500, and SVT will fundraise for the remainder of the purchase price and to cover transaction costs. 

After completing the fundraising effort, the Town will purchase three of the Kelly parcels and Metacomet will purchase the fourth. SVT will hold conservation restrictions over all four. 

Fundraising Campaign

SVT set out to raise $73,000 in order to do our part for this project. As of May 26, 2021, we have reached our fundraising goal! Thank you to everyone who supported this project. We will continue to work with our partners at Metacomet Land Trust and the Town of Upton to close on the purchase by June 30.  We look forward to officially welcoming everyone to the trails later this year.