News

Exemplary Dog Walkers Win Prize Basket

As part of our Volunteer Bark Ranger Program earlier this year, our Bark Rangers were on the lookout for trail visitors who practiced good dog-walking behavior. We added the names of these folks to a free drawing for a prize basket of dog treats, toys, and a $25 gift card donated by Mary Clark of Loyal Companion in Sudbury.

The winners are Andy Wineman and his family, who frequent Greenways Conservation Area in Wayland. The Winemans have two dogs: Percy and Sampson, black labs who are brothers from the same litter. 

The Winemans are exemplary trail users. They always pick up after their animals, and they keep Percy and Sampson on leash to ensure the dogs don't chase ducks or other wildlife. The Wineman children know they must ask permission before petting other dogs, and the entire family appreciates it when other doig walkers prevent their animals from jumping.

When the family stopped by Wolbach Farm to retrieve their prize, Andy acknowledged that there are many responsible dog walkers at Greenways, and he said he appreciates having access to such an amazing and beautiful property for his family to enjoy. One of his sons wanted to remind everyone to kindly pick up after their dogs.

Since the Town of Wayland offers both waste bags and waste removal at Greenways, doing the right thing is easy!

Annual Meeting Set for September 19

Save the date for SVT's 2019 Annual Meeting:

Thursday, September 19

Framingham Village Hall
2 Oak Street (off Edgell Road), Framingham

6:30 pm: Social Hour & Light Refreshments

7:15 - 9:00 pm: Meeting

During the Meeting, we will recap SVT's successes from the past year, elect new board members and officers, and present our Annual Awards to outstanding conservationists from around the region.

We are also thrilled to welcome Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer as our keynote speaker.

Please RSVP online to help us plan chairs and snacks! Thank you.

Thank you to Capital Group and Whole Foods for supporting SVT's Annual Meeting. 

RSVP for Annual Meeting

SVT Acquires CR on Westford's Salt Box Farm

In July, the Westford Conservation Commission and SVT acquired a conservation restriction (CR) on 45 acres of Salt Box Farm on Hildreth Street and Wright Lane in Westford. The scenic property includes open meadow, hay fields, woodlands, wetlands, and a vernal pool.

Salt Box Farm also connects several other existing conservation lands: Westford’s Prospect Hill Conservation Area (where SVT also holds a CR), the Hildreth Hills Conservation Land, and 65 acres of Town Conservation Land.

To fund the purchase of the CR, the Town of Westford allocated $1.163 million, and the Westford Land Preservation Foundation (WLPF) is raising $185,000 from individual donors (see "Fundraising Campaign," below). SVT provided technical assistance during the acquisition and will help in the long-term monitoring of the property as a co-holder of the CR.

The CR will permit some farming and grazing as well as forestry and other conservation uses. The view of the property from Hildreth Street will be permanently preserved via a scenic buffer. There are also plans to create a public trail that will connect Hildreth Street to the Burns Hill Trail on the Town Conservation Land.

Thank you to all who supported this important effort!  

WHY PROTECT THIS LAND

Salt Box Farm--click for a larger imageGiven its topography and road frontage, Salt Box Farm was a prime target for residential development, which would have permanently degraded the conservation values of the land.Its protection now offers a wide range of conservation and recreation benefits, including linking existing conservation land, preserving more than 10 acres of deciduous wooded swamp and a large certified vernal pool, expanding a local trail network, and preserving Westford’s scenic character.

Protection of the property will create a 189-acre conservation corridor by connecting the Hildreth Hills Conservation Area to the north with Town-owned conservation land to the south and a 3-acre parcel recently protected by the Westford Conservation Trust to the west. The CR also includes a public trail easement, which will connect to and expand an existing 2-mile trail network. Finally, protecting the farm will help preserve the scenic character of Westford and maintain a valuable working landscape.

Fundraising Campaign

Our partner, the Westford Land Preservation Foundation, is just $35,000 from reaching its goal of $185,000 to support this important purchase. To learn more about how you can help and take advantage of a challenge matching gift, please visit the WLPF website.

 

Learn How to Protect Your Land While Retaining Ownership

Want to protect your land while retaining ownership? A conservation restriction might be perfect for you.

By selling or donating a conservation restriction on your property, you can continue to live on the land, leave it to your heirs, or even sell it to others, and the land will remain protected from development. 

You can learn more about conservation restrictions at this public walk on Sunday, August 4. The walk is sponsored by the Bolton Agricultural Commission, Bolton Conservation Commission, Bolton Conservation Trust, and SVT:

A Walk at Rattlesnake Farm and Philips Land

Sunday, August 4, 2019
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
End of Old Sugar Road
Bolton, MA 

Local experts will explain how conservation restrictions work and will describe their long-term benefits:

Betsy Taylor-Kennedy, former Board Member, Bolton Conservation Trust
Christa Collins, Director of Land Protection, Sudbury Valley Trustees
Kristin O'Brien, Land Steward, Sudbury Valley Trustees

The walk is open to residents of all towns. Bring water, bug spray, sun screen, and sturdy shoes in case of mud.

For more information, contact Jonathan Moore at [email protected] or 978-443-5588.

"A Walk at Rattlesnake Hill" is part of the "Managing and Protecting Our Farms, Forests, and Open Spaces" workshop series presented by Bolton Agricultural Commission, Bolton Conservation Commission, Bolton Conservation Trust, and SVT. 

Call for Volunteers: Rescheduled for Sunday, August 4

Volunteers helped pulled glossy buckthorn at Elliott Concord River Preserve earlier this year.
Volunteers helped pulled glossy buckthorn at Elliott Concord River Preserve earlier this year.

SVT is seeking volunteers to help pull invasive plants at Whitehall Woods in Hopkinton on Sunday, August 4. We will be cutting and piling large plants and removing small plants by hand or with weed wrenches.

(We originally planned this project for Sunday, July 21, but the near record-breaking heat that day required us to reschedule.)

You will have an opportunity to learn about the biology of the target species (including Oriental bittersweet and glossy buckthorn) and enjoy good company, including some folks from HALT (the Hopkinton Area Land Trust), which holds a conservation restriction on the property.  

Sunday, August 4
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
203 Pond St, Hopkinton

If you can join us, please RSVP to Kristin O'Brien with the times you are available: [email protected]. (You don't have to stay for all four hours--please indicate the times that are best for you. Show up when you can and stay for as long as you like!).

Caution: There is poison ivy in part of the work area. Be sure to wear close-toed shoes, sunscreen, and a hat. We will provide gloves and water.

We'll send out detailed parking and other instructions to those who sign up.

We hope to see you there!
 

"High Ridge" Area Abounds with Natural Resources

The white-face dot-tailed dragonfly was one of the species we encountered during the BioBlitz. Photo by Chris Menge
The white-face dot-tailed dragonfly was one of the species we encountered during the BioBlitz. Photo by Chris Menge

SVT and several of our conservation partners have determined that several thousand acres of land in Harvard, Littleton, and Boxborough provide much-needed habitat for wildlife while protecting important natural resources for humans.

These partners include the Littleton Conservation Trust (LCT), Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT), and Boxborough Conservation Trust (BCTrust). Along with other representatives of the three towns, this partnership has identified an area running along the Shrewsbury Ridge (south of Oak Hill in Littleton) as being of the utmost importance to conserve.

“The Shrewsbury Ridge is a remarkable area,” said Ashley Davies, Senior Land Conservation Specialist at SVT. “The ridge has vast undisturbed areas of forests, meadows, wetlands, and streams that provide habitat for countless plant and animal species.”

“In fact, The Nature Conservancy has identified the area as a ‘resilient site,’ which means it should continue to support a diverse array of plants and animals in a changing climate.”

Davies added that the extensive forests near the area’s many waterways also filter impurities out of our air and water, so they directly contribute to the health of the region’s wildlife and people.

She continued, “As a result of the important ecology of the region, SVT and our partners in the three towns consider this area to be a high priority for conservation. We’re cooperating on a project we call the ‘High Ridge Initiative’ in order to protect these important landscapes from wide-scale development that would have a negative impact on local health.”

Three properties have already been protected as part of the High Ridge Initiative: Horse Meadows Knoll in Harvard, Smith Conservation Area in Littleton, and Elizabeth Brook Knoll in Boxborough. All three properties have hiking trails that are open to the public.

The landscape of the region has undergone many changes over time, which has contributed to its rich wildlife habitat and interesting geologic formations. Twelve thousand years ago, the area around Oak Hill was covered by the waters of glacial Lake Nashua. As recently as the 1600s, forests filled the landscape, but these were cleared by colonial settlers for lumber and firewood. More recently, new forests have grown in abandoned agricultural fields, and these are interspersed with working farms and orchards.

During our recent BioBlitz event, SVT and our partners identified hundreds of species of plants and animals in the area.

To encourage the public to learn more about the natural resources and geology of the High Ridge region, we hosted a "Habitats of Horse Meadows Knoll" walk on July 17, and we are hosting two Geology of Smith Conservation Area tours of the Smith Property that spans the Littleton-Harvard line. Expert geologists will describe ponds, vernal pools, an esker, and numerous erratics that were left behind by the last glacier. Participants will also see bedrock exposures and learn how different types of rock fit into the general plate tectonics of the area.

The tour on July 22 is full, but there are still spaces available in the July 30 outing, which is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. Registration is required.

Trail Opens at Elizabeth Brook Knoll

On June 23, the Boxborough Conservation Trust (BCTrust) and SVT held a ribbon cutting to open the hiking trail on Elizabeth Brook Knoll.

Earlier this year, SVT and the Town of Boxborough assisted BCTrust in purchasing the 15-acre property, and we co-hold a conservation restriction on it. 

Rita Gibes Grossman of the BCTrust had the honor of cutting the ribbon, as Phoebe Collins and Alicia Ardura looked on.

BioBlitz Recap: Over 850 Observations!

Sara Amish and Trevor Nelson--two SVT AmeriCorps members--gave volunteers their property assignments on the morning of the BioBlitz.
Sara Amish and Trevor Nelson--two SVT AmeriCorps members--gave volunteers their property assignments on the morning of the BioBlitz.

More than 30 intrepid volunteers took part in our first BioBlitz on June 22, 2019, to search for wildlife on conservation lands in the Harvard-Littleton-Boxborough area. We collaborated on this project with several conservation partners: Harvard Conservation Trust, Littleton Conservation Trust, Town of Harvard, Town of Littleton, and Boxborough Conservation Trust.

Volunteer naturalists checked in at Prospect Hill Farm in Harvard early on that sunny Saturday morning before heading out to their assigned areas. After spending the morning cataloging their observations, these naturalists returned to Prospect Hill to enjoy a hearty lunch provided by Wegmans.

On Thursday, June 27, we shared the results of our observations during a celebratory event at Prospect Hill. Altogether, we observed 346 species with over 850 individual observations made!

We uploaded the findings--and several photographs--to the iNaturalist app. Our findings will help SVT and our conservation partners better manage our lands, and they will also help other researchers study wildlife patterns.

Visit the BioBlitz iNaturalist page to see our results, including the results from our Discovery Days when we trained volunteers in the skills they would need for BioBlitz. And if you are so inclined, you can help us identify some of the more mysterious species we encountered!

(To learn which properties were included in the BioBlitz, download the PDF that we provided to participants.)

Thank you to everyone who participated, and special thanks to Community Harvest Project at Prospect Hill Farm for hosting these events.

SVT 2019 BioBlitz: Cool Observations

Check out this slide show of just a few of the species we observed between May and June:

SVT Adds Another CR in Bedford

In mid-June, SVT completed a conservation restriction (CR) on the Daughters of St. Paul land in Bedford. This is another example of our great partnership with the Town of Bedford.  We have CRs on several properties in town, including the one we acquired on Pickman Meadow earlier this year. 

This newest CR provides permanent protection to nearly 12 acres of wooded upland and wetland. It links the Town's Minnie Reid and Coffin conservation lands, and becomes part of an extensive corridor of protected land that includes the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. SVT also holds a CR on the Coffin land.

SVT will be leading a walk in this area with the Bedford Arbor Resources Committee this fall. 

SVT Job Opening

SVT has an opening for a Director of Development & Community Engagement (DDCE). We are seeking someone to grow our capacity so we can accelerate our efforts to protect and care for the region’s vulnerable natural areas and farmlands.

The DDCE is responsible for refining the strategic direction of the SVT membership program and for overseeing all fundraising and outreach efforts of the organization.

The DDCE reports to the Executive Director and directly supervises the Development & Engagement Coordinator and the Development Associate. S/he is also part of the leadership team that develops strategies for securing the additional funds needed for individual land protection and stewardship projects.

This is a full-time position based at SVT’s headquarters, located at Wolbach Farm in Sudbury, MA.

Read the full job description.