Northwest Framingham is characterized by abundant woodland, working farms, and pastoral views. It is home to many miles of trails, including the Bay Circuit Trail. Recreation opportunities abound, from Callahan State Park to the Town's Wittenborg Woods.
Good News! In June 2018, SVT and the City of Framingham protected Wayside Forest, a 52-acre gem in Northwest Framingham that sits adjacent to SVT's Henry's Hill Reservation. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and foundations and to a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we were able to close on the project.
Eagle Scout Michael Smith has been working hard to help create a new trail system, which will connect to trails on Henry's Hill, and will be completed by early November. Shortly thereafter we will be improving a small parking area on Wayside Inn Road, and installing a kiosk at the trailhead. We hope you will come out for a walk!
Wayside Forest consists of two parcels in the northwest corner of Framingham, one of approximately 27 acres and one of approximately 25 acres.
The lowest elevations of the property occur in the north and east, where the property has frontage on Dartmouth Drive to the north and Wayside Inn Road to the east. Here, there are a series of isolated wetlands and several vernal pools.
The topography rises very steeply to the south, leveling off slightly in some areas. One interesting feature is a ravine that begins on the southwest property line and continues onto a neighboring property.
Why protect this land
Wayside Forest was identified in the 2000 Greater Callahan Plan as a top priority for protection. This is because of its size, its proximity to existing conservation land (it is adjacent to SVT's Henry's Hill Reservation and sits across the street from the Town of Framingham's Wittenborg Woods), and its high-quality wildlife habitat.
The area along Wayside Inn Road has been identified as BioMap2 Core Habitat by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, due to the presence of the four–toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum). Vernal pools on the property provide habitat for this species, which until 2006 was listed as Endangered under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.
In addition, part of the property is considered habitat for Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina), which is listed as a species of Special Concern in Massachusetts.
How we will protect this land
SVT and the landowners entered into an Option agreement by which SVT secured the right to purchase one of the two lots that make up the property for $465,000 (appraised value). The landowners also agreed to donate the second parcel to us - creating essentially a half-price sale!
Once the fundraising campaign is complete, SVT will develop a small parking area on Wayside Inn Road, and will improve the trail system and install signage.
The Ciy of Framingham received incredible and welcome news in March 2018 that its application to the state LAND (Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity) grant program in 2017 would be funded, contrary to earlier news that there was not enough in the state's FY '18 budget for the project. This grant provided $217,600 to the project cost and the City of Framingham now holds a conservation restriction over the property. SVT raised over $265,000 privately to meet the remainder of the purchase price, to cover our transaction costs, and to set aside money in a permanent stewardship endownment to ensure the long-term care of the property. We still have a bit more to raise to cover the considerable expenses incurred in undertaking a complicated transaction like this one.
The grant funding came with the requirement that we must close on the purchase by June 30th, 2018. If we were unable to reach our fundraising goal and purchase the property, the landowners would have had to put it up for sale. Thanks to everyone who supported this project, our success has prevented a devleopment like the one pictured on the map at the right from happening!