BLT Holds Grand Opening

The new 33-mile Boroughs Loop Trail (BLT), which links the trail networks of Marlborough, Westborough, Northborough, and Southborough, was opened in grand style during a ceremony on Friday, October 4.  Representatives of the four towns and SVT, along with State Senator Jamie Eldridge, participated in the "ribbon" cutting ceremony that officially opened the BLT.

The ceremony was held at the trail head at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. Eighty-seven people attended, including State Representatives Danielle Gregoire, Carmine Gentile, Hannah Kane, and Carolyn Dykema, as well as several local politicians from the four communities.

On Saturday, October 5, another 50 people attended the "Guided Hike Kickoff Celebration" at the same location and enjoyed long walks on the nearby trail.

Additional guided trail walks are scheduled for trail heads in all four towns during the months of October and November. Find details and registration info on our BLT page.

The BLT links wooded walking trails, bike paths, aqueduct trails, and sidewalks. Hikers, walkers, and runners are welcome on all parts of the trail. Some sections will allow mountain biking and dog walking. 

SVT assisted the four towns in creating parts of the loop and in creating trail maps and signage.


Job Opening at SVT: Development Associate (Part Time)

SVT has an opening for a part-time (19 hours/week) Development Associate at our Wolbach Farm headquarters. 

The Development Associate is responsible for accurately processing gift transactions in Raiser’s Edge (SVT’s donor database).  Additionally, the Development Associate will participate in SVT’s marketing and outreach efforts to increase membership support. 

Read the complete description and application instructions.

Boroughs Loop Trail to Open on October 5

Everyone is invited to a Guided Hike Kickoff Celebration for the new, 33-mile Boroughs Loop Trail, which links trail networks in Marlborough, Northborough, Westborough, and Southborough. Trail volunteers will lead family-friendly hikes during the event:

Saturday, October 5
9:00 am

Algonquin Regional High School
79 Bartlett Street, Northborough
Meet at the trailhead located in the Upper Parking Lot

The BLT links wooded walking trails, bike paths, aqueduct trails, and sidewalks. Hikers, walkers, and runners are welcome on all parts of the trail. Some sections will allow mountain biking and dog walking. 

The BLT will provide area residents with an outstanding opportunity to get outside and explore the special places in the four communities. Highlights include:

  • The Felton Conservation Land on the Marlborough-Northborough line, which has lovely woodlands and large open grasslands that are ideal for bird watching.
  • The Assabet River Rail Trail that runs from Marlborough to Hudson and provides opportunities to rent a bike or stop for a cup of coffee.
  • Views of the beautiful Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough, a 170-acre active farm owned by the Trustees of Reservations.
  • The Charm Bracelet, which is a 60+ mile network of trails with a 28-mile loop that connects most of the open space in Westborough.
  • The great Crane Swamp, a 2,225-acre conservation area that spans all four communities and includes Cedar Hill in Northborough, a property with unusual shrub habitat that supports birds such as the blue-winged warbler and eastern towhee.

SVT assisted the four municipalities in developing maps for the BLT, and we also assisted with trail design and signage.

Elizabeth Wallace Joins SVT Staff

SVT is pleased to welcome Elizabeth Wallace as our Director of Development and Community Engagement. In this senior-level position, Ms. Wallace will lead SVT’s membership program and will oversee all fundraising and outreach efforts.

“I am thrilled to join this incredible team to support SVT's growth, and to contribute to an organization with so much heart and a profound sense of purpose,” said Elizabeth. “SVT is an exceptional organization whose dedication to land conservation, protection, and stewardship greatly impacts the quality and sustainability of life in its 36 communities.”

Lisa Vernegaard, SVT Executive Director, commented, “Elizabeth is a great fit for us, and I'm confident she will help us build our capacity so we can increase our impact. I look forward to working with her to devise strategies that encourage more area residents to support our work so we can accelerate the pace of land protection in our region.”

Previously, Elizabeth served as Director of Alumnae & Parent Engagement at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord and as a Major Gifts Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge. Most recently, she managed a chain of yoga studios in the metro Boston area, where she was responsible for increasing membership and for developing community engagement strategies.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected]

SVT Honors Area Conservationists

SVT 2019 Award Recipients. Photo by Dany Pelletier.
SVT 2019 Award Recipients. Photo by Dany Pelletier.

At SVT’s 2019 Annual Meeting on September 19, we paid tribute to several outstanding conservationists.

(Left to Right in Photo) Karl Kelber of Framingham and his daughter Jodi Kelber-Kaye accepted the Morgan Volunteer Award posthumously for Karl’s wife, Marilyn “Maggie” Kelber, who was a dedicated and valued office volunteer for many years. William “Buzz” Constable received the Lewis Conservation Award for his widespread efforts on behalf of land and water conservation throughout Massachusetts.

Marilyn Kucharski of Wayland was named an SVT Life Member for her extraordinary contributions to SVT’s work. Priscilla Ryder, Conservation Agent for the City of Marlborough, received the Distinguished Public Service Award for her commitment to land and river conservation in the region and for her many collaborations with SVT and OARS on stewardship projects.

Chris Menge of Sudbury was named Steward of the Year for his numerous, hands-on contributions to the management of SVT’s properties in the past year. Will Hardwick of Sudbury received a Youth Steward Award for designing and building a bridge at Upper Mill Brook in Wayland. And Mark Smith of Framingham accepted his son Michael Smith’s Youth Steward Award for creating a new trail at Wayside Forest in Framingham.

Also during the meeting, SVT members elected Greg D. Peterson of Carlisle to the Board of Directors, and Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard presented a recap of SVT’s work in Fiscal 2019. To conclude the evening, Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer of Framingham gave the keynote address.

SVT Accepts CR on Southborough Golf Course

St. Mark's Golf Course, Southborough

SVT has just accepted a conservation restriction (CR) on an unusual property: the former St. Mark's Golf Course in Southborough.

During their 2017 Town Meeting, residents of the Town of Southborough overwhelmingly voted to purchase the golf course. They also added an amendment to the purchase that required most of the property be protected with a CR held by a third party. The result was a plan that set aside a little over 4 of the property’s 60 acres for a new public safety building, with the remainder to be preserved for golfing and passive recreation.

When a member of Southborough’s Open Space Preservation Committee approached SVT about co-holding the CR with the Southborough Conservation Commission, we deliberated before accepting the offer. Golf course management—which can involve heavy watering and the use of pesticides—is generally incompatible with conservation. Plus, we were concerned about having to monitor a property that would be used primarily for recreation purposes.

Our Board of Directors eventually decided it would be better to protect the land as turf than to see it be developed, and they voted to accept the co-held CR. According to the terms of the CR, if the golf course operations cease for more than four years, the land will permanently convert to conservation land.

So, in September 2019, St. Mark's became SVT's first CR on a golf course and our 88th CR overall.

Want to learn more about how CRs work? Read Protecting Your Property with a Conservation Restriction. The document refers primarily to private landowners, but some municipalities and nonprofit organizations also place CRs on their properties to give an added layer of protection to the land's conservation values.


Berlin Trail Gets New Parking Area

Great Oak Farm. Photo by Brent Mathison

Great news for Greak Oak Farm.

The Town of Berlin recently completed the new parking area for the trail at Great Oak Farm on Sawyer Hill Road in Berlin. SVT has installed a sign marking the entrance.

In 2018, the Town of Berlin and SVT purchased a conservation restriction on the property, and we opened a perimeter trail last fall. Now, the new parking area will make it easier for everyone to tour this pretty farm in the northeast corner of town.

You can find directions and a trail map on our Great Oak Farm page.


TerraCorps-AmeriCorps Update

A TerraCorps-AmeriCorps Member tried out a weed wrench at SVT's Memorial Forest Reservation in Sudbury.

We are pleased to welcome Matt Morris as a TerraCorps-AmeriCorps member for the 2019-2020 service year. Working with our Stewardship staff, Matt will recruit and train volunteers, monitor properties, fight invasive species, and maintain trails. He is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

Matt replaces Trevor Nelson, who concluded his year of service in July.

In addition, Sara Amish has begun her second year of service with our Land Protection staff. As part of her responsibilities, Sara will develop workshop programs for our many partners and will perform in-the-field assessments of conservation properties.

On August 30, SVT led a training session for 40 new TerraCorps members at Memorial Forest in Sudbury. The participants pulled invasive glossy buckthorn plants, and many had their first chance to use a key stewardship tool--the weed wrench!

TerraCorps is part of the national AmeriCorps program that engages more than 75,000 Americans in service at nonprofits each year. TerraCorps is a Massachusetts-based program that works with conservation organizations in the state.

Sudbury Scout Completes Eagle Project

Will Hardwick completed his Eagle Project at Upper Mill Brook in Wayland.
Will Hardwick (front) recruited volunteers to help him build a bridge at Upper Mill Brook in Wayland.

Will Hardwick, a member of Boy Scout Troop 60 in Sudbury, worked with SVT and the Town of Wayland to build a bridge in the cooperatively managed Upper Mill Brook Conservation Area in Wayland.

As part of his Eagle Project over the past year and a half, Will designed the bridge, obtained permits to build it, and sought donations to fund his project. Will also solicited volunteers to help prepare the materials, haul the lumber into the project site, disassemble the old bridge, and build the new one that now crosses Mill Brook.

Will is one of many scouts who have worked with SVT on their Eagle and Silver Projects over the years. SVT thanks Will and all scouts for their efforts to improve trails in the region.

High Ridge Initiative Will Protect Clean Water

Horse Meadows Reservoir, Harvard. Photo by Raj Das.
Horse Meadows Reservoir, Harvard. Photo by Raj Das.

SVT and several of our conservation partners have launched the “High Ridge Initiative” to conserve an area of ecologically important lands at the intersection of Harvard, Littleton, and Boxborough. The partners include the Littleton Conservation Trust (LCT), Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT), and Boxborough Conservation Trust (BCTrust), as well as other representatives of the three towns.

We have identified an area between Oak Hill in Littleton and Great Elm Conservation Land in Harvard as being of high importance for conservation. This area sits on a glacial ridge and includes extensive forests and wetlands, productive working farms and orchards, and essential wildlife habitat.

“The High Ridge Initiative will protect these important landscapes from wide-scale development that would have a negative impact on local health,” said Ashley Davies, Senior Land Protection Specialist at SVT.

Davies explained that the protection of local forests will help to protect water and air quality in the region. “Forests help to filter impurities out of our air and water, so they directly contribute to the health of the region’s wildlife and people. If the extensive forests near the area’s many waterways were cleared and developed, then our natural filters would be eliminated and contaminants would more easily find their way into local drinking water.”

Most residents in the three towns rely on wells to provide their drinking water. Plus, the High Ridge area includes numerous streams and wetlands that eventually feed into the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers as well as the Nashua River and Stony Brook. In turn, these waterways lead into the Merrimack River. Protecting the buffer forests and open lands in the HIgh Ridge area, therefore, will indirectly help the many communities that rely on these larger streams and rivers for their water.  

The partners in the High Ridge Initiative have already protected three properties: Horse Meadows Knoll in Harvard, Elizabeth Brook Knoll in Boxborough, and the Smith Conservation Land in Littleton. Horse Meadows Knoll and Elizabeth Brook Knoll share a hill overlooking a pond known as Horse Meadows Reservoir. The Smith property sits adjacent to Black Pond and Beaver Brook, both of which are key water resources.

In the coming years, the High Ridge partners will be working with local landowners who would like to conserve additional lands that protect the natural resources of the region. More information about the High Ridge Initiative is available at