Robertson Property, Upton

Photo by Sherry Fendell

Great news! At Town Meeting on November 5, Upton residents voted to use CPA funds to purchase a conservation restriction on the Robertson Property.

SVT has been working with the Town of Upton and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to protect the 48-acre Robertson property on Fowler Street. The land provides important habitat for rare salamanders and turtles, and it overlooks Warren Brook, an important coldwater stream that supports native brook trout.

The Town of Upton will use existing Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to purchase a conservation restriction (CR) on the property to permanently protect the land and allow public access, including fishing. The value of the conservation restriction is $619,000, but it will only cost the town $177,000 of CPA funds, thanks to state funding and a bargain sale by the owners.

Upton residents voted on the funding at their Fall Town Meeting on November 5, 2019. 

SVT has been working with the Town on this project for several years. Because of the property's valuable ecological characteristics, we identified it as being of the highest priority for conservation in our 36-community region. 

Property Description

The Robertson property consists of two sections separated by Fowler Street. The larger section is mostly wooded uplands, with some deciduous swamp and approximately two acres of fields. This section has frontage on three streets – Mechanic, Fowler, and Warren.

The other section is almost entirely covered by deciduous forested wetlands and has a lengthy section of Warren Brook. A variety of wildlife, including three species of concern – blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) – are found on the property.

Why protect this land

The Robertson property provides an important link in a network of protected land that begins at Whitehall Reservoir in Hopkinton and extends south and west through Upton State Forest and west into Grafton. Corridors linking larger blocks of conservation land play a critical role in supporting diverse wildlife populations, in buffering wildlife from the effects of climate change, and in enabling conservation groups to link their trail networks.

The protection of the Robertson property will help create a link between the Town of Upton’s Stefans Farm and the Upton State Forest. In addition, a planned trail will allow the public to walk through the Robertson property and cross Warren Street to access the Upton State Forest trails.

One of the key features of the Robertson property is its importance as a source of drinking water. Roughly half the property lies within a Zone II Wellhead Protection Area, and it supplies groundwater to town wells located along the West River about one mile downstream of the property.

The Robertson property also is almost entirely designated as BioMap2 Core Habitat. The parcel provides breeding habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including neotropical songbirds, beaver and other small mammals, and three species of special concern, as determined by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program -- blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta). The land is also actively used by a variety of wide-ranging wildlife species, including black bear, deer, coyote, fisher, and turkey.

How we will protect this land

The Massachusetts DCR and the Town of Upton are seeking to purchase a conservation restriction (CR) on the property from the Roberston family.

The CR has been appraised for $619,300, and the Robertsons have agreed to a bargain sale price of $500,000.

DCR has allocated $125,000 toward the project, and the state has awarded a LAND grant of $234,000 to the Town of Upton for the purchase. 

At the Upton Fall Town Meeting on November 5, 2019, town residents voted to approve the use $176,000 of CPA funds to cover the remaining balance as well as the project costs.