News

It's "Turtle Season"

Please stay on the alert for turtles on our roadways during the next few weeks. Be especially careful as you drive along roads that cross wetland areas. 

From May to July, turtles in Massachusetts will end their winter hibernation and will start traveling in search of food and a place to nest. You're likely to see them crossing lawns or roads in your area.

Do not disturb migrating turtles, and please do not move them to another location. They have a keen sense of direction and are intentionally working their way toward an appropriate nesting spot. 

The MassWildlife website provides tips for what to do if you spot a turtle. The website also tells you where you can report any sightings in order to help the state take steps to make it possible for turtles and other wildlife to cross our roadways safely.

Volunteers Needed for Buckthorn Pull

SVT is seeking volunteers are needed for a glossy buckthorn pull at our Elliott Concord River Preserve in Carlisle.

This property protects 1,000 feet of shoreline along a Wild & Scenic section of the Concord River. It is also home to two rare species.

Join us as we pull out the seedlings of the invasive glossy buckthorn by hand and remove larger shrubs with weed wrenches. You'll learn about the biology of the rare species while enjoying good company.

Tuesday, June 18
2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
121 Skelton Road
Carlisle

If you can join us, please RSVP to Laura Mattei at [email protected]. Laura will send detailed parking and other instructions to all who volunteer.
 

Get WILD with SVT

Get WILD with SVT at Jack's Abby

Discover the secrets of your "wild" neighbors. Join SVT for "Wildlife of the Region" at Jack's Abby in Framingham. 

SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard will introduce you to the wildlife that live in our local waters, fields, and forests--and possibly even your backyard.

You'll see stunning photographs of owls, bobcats, bears, and more.

And, just for fun, we'll have a short trivia game to round out the evening.

Monday, June 10
7:00 - 8:30 pm

Jack's Abby
100 Clinton Street
Framingham

Google Map

Free admission. Invite your friends! This is a fun way to introduce them to SVT.

The full menu of Jack's Abby food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Please RSVP

Give the Gift of Nature to Your Child's Teacher!

Did your child’s class venture out on a nature walk this year? 

Did the students study how undeveloped lands help to combat climate change?

Did they read the work of writers who, like Thoreau and Emerson, were inspired by the natural world?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, we have the perfect End-of-Year Teacher Gift for you: A gift membership to Sudbury Valley Trustees.

As an SVT member, the gift recipient will be able to participate in dozens of SVT outings and educational programs, free of charge. Plus, he or she will join a large community of concerned citizens who care about the natural areas, wildlife habitat, and farmland of the region.

Gift memberships at the $60 level or higher include a copy of SVT’s Trail Guide: 42 Walks West of BostonThis $60 gift membership and Trail Guide combo make a fantastic gift from the entire class! 

Order a gift membership today!

Cummings Foundation Awards $100K Grant to SVT!

SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard (left) was thrilled when she learned SVT had received a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation. Lisa got the good news from Cheryl Rank, Associate Director of New Horizons in Marlborough.
SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard (left) was thrilled when she learned SVT had received a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation. Lisa got the good news from Cheryl Rank, Associate Director of New Horizons in Marlborough.

Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) has received a $100,000 grant through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. SVT was one of 100 nonprofit organizations out of 574 applicants to be awarded a grant following a competitive review process.

Lisa Vernegaard, SVT Executive Director, received the good news from Cheryl Rank, Associate Director of New Horizons in Marlborough, a not-for-profit retirement community that is owned and operated by Cummings Foundation. “I was over the moon to learn that we’d been awarded one of these generous grants,” said Ms. Vernegaard.

Ms. Vernegaard continued, “These funds will enable SVT to accelerate the pace of conservation in our region so that we, together with our many partners, can save our most vulnerable and beautiful natural areas before they are lost forever to pavement and buildings. The impact of this grant will be felt for generations to come.”

The “$100K for 100” program supports nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“By having such a local focus, we aim to make a meaningful positive difference in the communities where our colleagues and leasing clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s Executive Director. “We are most grateful for the nonprofit organizations that assist and empower our neighbors, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a variety of causes, including homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years. The list of winners will be posted at www.CummingsFoundation.org.

Cummings Foundation announced an additional $15 million in early May through its Sustaining Grants program. Through these awards, 50 local nonprofits will receive funding of $20,000 to $50,000 per year for 10 years.

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn. Its largest single commitment to date has been to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Discovery Day Participants Find Butterflies, Dragonflies, and More

SVT's Discovery Day: Plants & Pollinators. Photo by Dany Pelletier.
SVT's Discovery Day: Plants & Pollinators. Photo by Dany Pelletier.
SVT's Discovery Day: Plants & Pollinators. Photo by Dany Pelletier.

The second of our three Discovery Days was a rousing success! Twenty-five amateur naturalists turned out on Saturday, May 18, at the newly acquired Smith Conservation Land in Littleton to learn about pollinators and their habitat, how to identify plants, and how to use the iNatualist application to log their findings. 

The theme of the day became, "Biology is messy and not everything is easily classified, but it can be a lot of fun!" 

The group divided into three and rotated around to different areas of the reservation to learn from expert naturalists like Ted Elliman, Pam Durrant, and Greg Dysart. There were exciting finds like American Lady butterflies, Dot-tailed Whiteface dragonflies, and many spring wildflowers. Other sightings included Spring Azure and Cabbage White butterflies and a Fragile Forktail damselfly.

This was the second of three Discovery Days, an educational program designed give amateurs the skills to interact with the natural world and take part in our BioBlitz on June 22. The final Discovery Day, focusing on Herpetology and Aquatics, is scheduled for June 1 at the Smith Conservation Land. Register to join us as we survey Black Pond for turtles and examine vernal pools for salamanders’ larvae and frog tadpoles.

All participants of the Discovery Days series and other expert naturalists will be invited to take part in our BioBlitz on June 22,  when volunteers will have the opportunity to catalogue all species on properties in Littleton, Boxborough, and Harvard. This biological inventory will help SVT and our conservation partners taking care of this ecologically important area and the species it protects.

Thank you to our volunteer experts who made this second Discovery Day possible:

  • Pam Durrant
  • Ted Elliman
  • Greg Dysart
  • Mary Brogan
  • Ryan Dorsey

Amateurs Acquire Birdwatching Skills at Discovery Day

Seventeen amateur naturalists joined experts and SVT staff on a rainy Saturday to learn how to find and identify birds in the wild. Gathering at Horse Meadows Knoll in Harvard early in the morning on May 4, the group started the day by learning to use guidebooks and apps like eBird and iNaturalist. In addition, the group used a scope and binoculars to watch eastern bluebirds and tree swallows enjoy their breakfast near the Horse Meadows Reservoir. At the end of the day the group had seen 25 species of birds!

Participants also learned how to bird by ear, hearing species like brown creeper and pine warbler. Plus, the group spotted a few "flat birds" (pieces of wood painted to resemble native species) that we had placed around the property to help them test their identification skills. The flat birds will remain up so other visitors to Horse Meadows Knoll can practice their birdwatching skills. 

This event was the first of three Discovery Days that SVT is hosting in the Harvard-Littleton-Boxborough region. The Discovery Days are educational events where area residents can acquire useful naturalist skills while learning about the ecological abundance of the region.

Future Discovery Days will be held at the Smith Conservation Area in Littleton and will focus on Plants and Pollinators (May 18) and Herps and Aquatics (June 1).  All are invited to attend these free events, but registration is required; visit our online calendar to register.

All Discovery Days participants as well as expert naturalists will be invited to take part in our spring BioBlitz on June 22, when we will try to catalog all the special species in this area so we can better care for our conservation lands.  

We extend a big "thank you" to our volunteer experts who made this day possible:

  • Dave Durrant
  • Norman Levey
  • Mary Brogan
  • Nichole Bray
  • Christopher Errington
  • Peter Norton

Saving the Riverbank in Wayland

Students from Wayland High School recently helped us with a slope restoration project along the Sudbury River at our Greenways Reservation.

During a workday on April 25, the students repaired a fence along the riverbank to prevent free-running dogs from trampling vegetation on a steep slope. They also planted lowbush blueberries and Pennsylvania sedge to restore the native vegetation that will stabilize the slope and provide good wildlife habitat. 

This stretch of the Sudbury River has been federally designated as a Wild & Scenic River, and thanks to the efforts of these student volunteers, we hope to prevent further degradation of the area.

SVT Joins MVP Effort

Click map for larger view. Map courtesy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

To improve their resilience to climate change, cities and towns across Massachusetts have begun participating in a new Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. The MVP program arose from a 2016 executive order issued by Governor Charlie Baker, in which he established an integrated climate change strategy for the commonwealth.

The MVP program provides grants to municipalities that evaluate their vulnerabilities to climate change and develop concrete action steps to make their communities more resilient. The grants cover both the creation of the MVP plan and the implementation of the action steps.

Since the program’s inception in 2017, 74 communities have become MVP communities and another 83 are working to achieve the designation in 2019 (see map). With more than 40% of the 351 Massachusetts communities obtaining MVP designation by the end of the year, the commonwealth is taking great strides forward in the fight against climate change.

This year, the program added “land conservation” as an action that is eligible for an MVP grant. As a result, SVT is offering our input and expertise to the municipalities in our region as they develop their MVP plans.

In April, Dan Stimson (Assistant Director of Stewardship) and Ashley Davies (Senior Land Protection Specialist) attended the planning workshops for the Towns of Wayland and Harvard, respectively, where they provided input on those communities’ plans. Soon, we'll be participating in planning workshops in Clinton and Sudbury.

As other communities develop MVP programs, SVT staff will accept invitations to their planning sessions, where we can offer advice on nature-based action steps for improving climate change resiliency. We also recommend that our members attend their local MVP planning sessions to stay abreast of how their communities are responding to climate change.

Protection and proper management of natural areas help both to combat climate change and to mitigate the destruction caused by major weather events, such as floods, droughts, and ice storms. We encourage all the communities in our region to participate in the MVP program and to keep land conservation, forest management, and protection of water resources at the top of their action lists. 

SVT and OARS Hold Third Legislative Breakfast

SVT and OARS sponsored our third annual legislative breakfast at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge visitors' center on April 5th. We coordinate this event in order to strengthen relationships with legislators and discuss priorities in land and water issues.

Constituents from across our service area had a chance to interact with members of our state legislature during the two-hour session. Conversation topics ranged from climate change to pollinator protection to ensuring a healthy and abundant (but not too abundant) water supply for our region.

Several area legislators were in attendance: State Senator Jamie Eldridge and State Representatives Carmine Gentile, Kate Hogan, Tami Gouveia, and Danielle Gregoire. Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Jennifer Benson were unable to attend but sent aides in their place.

Thank you to Roche Bros. for donating the food for this event.