2018 Annual Meeting Planned for September 13

Save the Date! SVT's 2018 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 13, at our headquarters in Sudbury.

During the meeting, we'll review the past year, elect new board members, and present awards to outstanding conservationists in our region:

Thursday, September 13
Wolbach Farm
18 Wolbach Road

6:30 pm: Social Hour
7:15 - 8:45 pm: Meeting and Award Presentations

David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest, will deliver the keynote address on the Wildlands & Woodlands vision, which outlines a 50-year plan for saving 70% of New England as forest.

The meeting will be held in our barn, where it can be chilly. Be sure to dress in layers!

"Registrations" appreciated so we can plan refreshments and chairs. Please sign up here.

Thank you to Middlesex Savings Bank, Roche Bros./Sudbury Farms, and Capital Group for supporting our Annual Meeting. 

SVT Renews Land Trust Accreditation

We are delighted to report that we have renewed our accreditation with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission (LTAC). The LTAC is an independent arm of the Land Trust Alliance, a national organization that establishes professional standards for land trusts across the country.

SVT was first accredited in 2013, and after a rigorous application process, our accreditation has been approved for five more years. Accreditation demonstrates that we are committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in our conservation work.

During the renewal process, we provided extensive documentation and were subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation.  By renewing our accreditation, the LTAC signified its confidence that SVT's lands will be protected forever. Across the US, 400 accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres--the size of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined.

“We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process,” said SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard. “Today, we are even better positioned to work with our partners to protect and care for the vulnerable natural areas in our region.”

“It is exciting to recognize SVT's continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the LTAC. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”


Fighting Invasives Before They Invade

Volunteers Clare Kitchin and Mark Sykes surveyed invasive plants at Forty Caves.
Volunteers Clare Kitchin and Mark Sykes surveyed invasive plants at Forty Caves.

As new non-native invasive plant species arrive in our region, SVT and other conservation organizations are fighting them with a technique called Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR). We take a survey of the plant life at a property, map the location of any new invasives, and then fight the interlopers before they become established.

We’re focusing on those species considered the most problematic for this region, such as kudzu, mile-a-minute vine, and Japanese stiltgrass. We've chosen these plants based on guidance from CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area), which has produced a watch list of problematic plants that are new to our region or are expected to arrive soon.

SVT has begun using the EDRR technique at Forty Caves Conservation Area. This area is a good candidate for EDRR, because it is a healthy property that has not been overrun by invasives. SVT AmeriCorps member Paige Dolci and several volunteers surveyed Forty Caves this summer and tracked where they found the new invasives. Our Stewardship staff will now take steps to eradicate the plants so we can keep Forty Caves healthy for wildlife and people.

Success with Horse Meadows Knoll Fundraising!

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

SVT is excited to announce that we have met our fundraising goal for Horse Meadows Knoll!  In Fall 2017, we launched a $285,000 fundraising campaign to assist the Harvard Conservation Trust in its efforts to protect this beautiful 47-acre property, and we are thrilled with how our members and the general public responded.

Many individuals stepped up with generous gifts, and the property's outstanding conservation values won the support of eight different foundations.  We are especially grateful to Shalin Liu and the Summer Star Foundation for Nature, Art and Humanity, Inc. for getting us across the finish line with a generous $7320 gift. 

We are working to establish a parking area and hope to open the property this fall.  Stay tuned for updates!

Amazing Partners at Amazing Things

The City of Framingham and Amazing Things Art Center (ATAC), with support from SVT, have been working with Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) to improve a derelict strip of land between Hollis Street and the Arlington Street playground and turn it into a neighborhood pathway.

MWRA has been opening up sections of this and other aqueducts in the water supply system over the past few years for public access, a legacy of the late Representative Chris Walsh. Until recently, the parcel in downtown Framingham, which is located behind ATAC and sits just above the Sudbury aqueduct, was overwhelmed with garbage and overgrown brush

SVT has been an ally on the ATAC Aqueduct Path from the start. Once a use agreement was in place between the MWRA and the City, SVT AmeriCorps member Tempe Staples coordinated with ATAC staff member Melanie Christopher to plan three work days in May, June, and July.

At the first work day, Tempe, several ATAC staffers, and a group of volunteers from Framingham-based Bose installed a fence, disposed of over 20 garbage bags of waste, and cut logs that will be used to line the parking lot. On the second work day, Tempe and volunteer Roger Sturgis cleared the middle section of the parcel. The third work day will involve distributing woodchips across the area.

Once the clean-up work is done, local artists plan to install artwork along the developing aqueduct footpath.

All this progress has happened thanks to the teamwork of MWRA, the City of Framingham, ATAC, SVT, and many other volunteers. Amazing Things indeed!


What's Going on at Wolbach?

White plastic sheets cover the ground around the original pollinator garden and the bee hotel.
White plastic sheets cover the ground around the original pollinator garden and the bee hotel.
Volunteers helped to build the Bee Hotel at SVT's Wolbach Farm
Volunteers helped to build the Bee Hotel at SVT's Wolbach Farm

If you've visited SVT's Wolbach Farm in Sudbury during the past two years, you may have noticed some curious activity on the hill behind our office building.

In 2016, with the help of many volunteers, AmeriCorps member Jesse Koyen planted a 24’ by 30’ pollinator meadow at Wolbach Farm. He also built and installed a “bee hotel” for nesting solitary bees. This unsual-looking structure is filled with hollow sticks and logs--just the sort of habitat these important pollinators need.

This year,  AmeriCorps member Paige Dolci has been working to expand the Wolbach Farm pollinator meadow to 58’ by 108’ and educate the public about the importance of pollinators. The lawn around the original pollinator meadow is now covered by large white plastic sheets--not something you expect to see at an SVT property. 

With help from students at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Paige removed invasive shrubs from the expanded plot so she could put down the plastic sheets for a "soil solarization" project. Soil solarization is a non-chemical method of controlling pests, weeds, and invasive species using energy from the sun.  

Over a period of several days, Paige and her volunteers spread large pieces of industrial, clear plastic over the plot and buried all edges in shallow trenches to trap heat underneath to kill the vegetation. We'll remove the plastic in the fall, after the heat of the summer has passed. In Spring 2019, we'll seed the plot with a mix of native wildflowers and grasses that provide habitat for pollinating insects and birds.

Paige will also be enhancing the existing pollinator garden this summer with plants from the New England Wildflower Society. The Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley will join her to learn about pollinators and how to protect them.

Paige won't be around to plant the seeds or see the results of her work--her year of service ends this month--but her efforts should have a long-lasting impact on the bees, butterflies, and birds of the area. And she is developing a planting and maintenance plan for the new meadow that she will pass on to the next AmeriCorps member.

Wayside Forest Is Protected!

Wayside Forest, Framingham. Photo by Raj Das

Thanks to the generosity of George and DD Harrington, and to the generosity of the individuals and foundations who donated to the project, SVT and the City of Framingham have permanently protected the 52-acre Wayside Forest. Located off Wayside Inn Road in Framingham, and sitting next to SVT's Henry's Hill Reservation, Wayside Forest will be forever protected as wildlife habitat and as a place for public recreation.

We reached the agreement to protect the land in late June. The Harringtons donated a 25-acre parcel to SVT and sold us a second, 27-acre parcel. SVT sold a conservation restriction on the land to the City. The City's portion of the cost was covered by a $217,600 state LAND (Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity) grant. 

There has been great urgency surrounding this project since March, when the Commonwealth announced it would award the LAND grant, but only if we closed on the deal by June 30. We scrambled to raise the purchase price by the deadline, and thanks to many generous donors and foundations, we succeeded. Thank you to everyone who supported this project!

We are delighted to add this new piece of conservation land to an already beautiful landscape in northwest Framingham, but our work is not quite done. SVT must still raise approximately $15,000 to cover the expenses incurred in taking on this complicated transaction, and to ensure that we'll be able to complete the parking, trails, and signage on the property. 

Learn more.

Conservation Success on Mount Pisgah – Decades in the Making

View from the North Overlook, Mount Pisgah
View from the North Overlook, Mount Pisgah

Congratulations to the Town of Berlin for acquiring and conserving approximately 84 acres on Mount Pisgah! 

Mount Pisgah is a popular hiking destination for area residents, and its most popular spot—the North Overlook—sits on this newly protected land. The land was previously owned by Warren Oberg, who had graciously allowed hiking trails to cross his property. The North Overlook will be renamed the Warren S. Oberg Overlook in his honor.

The Commonwealth has wanted to protect this property for decades, and local resident Walter Bickford, who is a Berlin Conservation Commissioner, former Berlin Selectmen, and former State Representative, began working on the conservation project in the 1980s.

SVT assisted the Town of Berlin in its successful application for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that supplied part of the acquisition costs. SVT will hold a CR over approximately 76 of the acres. Another 6.5 acres were donated to the Town of Northboro. 

Look out for improved signage at Mount Pisgah and an improved trail head from this property on Lyman Road at the Northboro/Berlin town-line.


Tour a New Conservation Project

SVT and the Town of Harvard are teaming up to purchase the 49-acre Smith Property on the Harvard-Littleton line. By acquiring this land, we can ensure that its spectacular ecological assets are well managed in perpetuity, and we will be able to create public hiking trails that connect to those on adjacent conservation lands.

The Smith Property consists of 49 acres of forest, open fields, wetlands, and old farm fields. The property is wedged between Black Pond in Harvard and Beaver Brook in Littleton, with 1200 feet of frontage on both sides of Whitcomb Avenue in Harvard and Littleton. The Littleton Conservation Trust currently holds a conservation restriction (CR) over part of the land.

The public is invited to tour the property during a walk led by SVT’s Sr. Land Protection Specialist Ashley Davies:

The walk is free and open to all ages.

The effort to acquire the Smith Property is part of a new initiative for SVT—the Ridge Initiative—an effort to protect over 800 acres of land along a ridge that runs from southwest to northeast along the Harvard, Boxborough, and Littleton lines. This area includes hundreds of acres of already protected lands as well as hundreds of acres of unprotected lands that emerged as some of the highest priority land for protection in SVT’s service area through a recent analysis of ecological values. A property that SVT and the Harvard Conservation Trust have conserved, Horse Meadows Knoll, serves as the southern anchor of the Initiative’s project area. The Smith Property serves as the northern anchor.

Learn more about the project to protect the Smith Property.

Job Opening at SVT

SVT Staff, Spring 2018

Want to join a great group of dedicated conservationists? SVT is soliciting applications for a part-time position in our Land Protection department :

The Community Conservation Specialist (20 hours/week) will help build community support for conservation by liaising with municipal boards and committees and representing SVT on certain conservation issues. The position will involve community outreach and engagement. It requires a bachelor's degree and three years experience in related work, or a master's and one year of experience. Application deadline: July 15. Read more.