News

Coyote Presentation on March 26: New Location, Seats Still Available

Photo by Dawn Puliafico

On Tuesday, March 26, SVT will present "Understanding Coyote Behavior" in partnership with WayDOG, the Wayland Dog Owners Group.

Dr. Jon Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, will share his expertise on eastern coyotes in Massachusetts.

This photo and video presentation will cover coyote ecology and behavior as well as hybridization with western coyote and wolves.  

The program has proved to be so popular that we have moved it to a larger facility: First Parish Church at the intersection of Rt. 27 and Concord Road in Sudbury.  Plenty of seats still available! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
7:00 - 8:30 pm
First Parish Church, Sudbury

Free for SVT members. Register today.

 

Effort to Save Elizabeth Brook Knoll Is Underway

Elizabeth Brook Knoll. Photo by Simon Bunyard, BCTrust

In 2018, SVT and the Harvard Conservation Trust successfully protected Horse Meadows Knoll, a beautiful 47 acres on the Harvard-Boxborough line. Now, the Boxborough Conservation Trust (BCTrust), with SVT’s assistance, has a chance to conserve the adjacent Elizabeth Brook Knoll, a lovely 15-acre property that sits on the Boxborough side of the town line.

By protecting Elizabeth Brook Knoll, we’ll be able to extend the trail system from Horse Meadows Knoll and enable everyone to enjoy this intriguing landscape.

Elizabeth Brook Knoll and Horse Meadows Knoll sit at the southern edge of what we call the “High Ridge.” This 12-square-mile area in Harvard, Littleton, and Boxborough is rich with wildlife habitat, abundant native plants, and important sources of drinking water.

SVT and other conservation groups are working to protect these resources before they succumb to development pressure. We have taken the first steps toward success by protecting Horse Meadows Knoll and the Smith Property in Littleton (which sits at the north end of the High Ridge).

Can you help put the next piece of the puzzle in place by contributing to the protection of Elizabeth Brook Knoll?

BCTrust has secured an $84,000 state grant that puts a big dent in the $189,000 project cost, and a closing is scheduled for March 22. An additional $76,500 has been committed from other sources including the BCTrust, SVT, the Boxborough Conservation Commission, and the Fields Pond Foundation. But we still need to raise $30,000 to close the gap.  With your support, we can reach our goal and protect this land.

Please donate today

SVT Acquires Smith Property!

View from the Smith Property. Photo by Paul Bakstran

On February 15, 2019, Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) acquired the Smith Property, a spectacular 49-acre property on Whitcomb Avenue in Littleton. 

The property boasts expansive views of Beaver Brook Marsh and Black Pond, and it provides valuable habitat for numerous species, including bobcat, bear, coyote, and porcupine, all of which have recently been spotted on the land.

In addition to our acqusition, the Town of Harvard's Conservation Commission purchased the 12 acres of the Smith Property that sit on the Harvard side of the town line. Going forward, SVT will manage the combined 61 acres. 

SVT thanks the many individuals and foundations who contributed to our fundraising efforts, which included a crowdfunding campaign in November 2018.

SVT also thanks the Littleton Conservation Trust (LCT) for its support of the project. The LCT will continue to hold a conservation restriction over the property to ensure its ecological values are preserved.

We are currently working on a management plan and have sought input and advice from Harvard and Littleton residents. In addition, we will be conducting a BioBlitz environmental survey in June to catalog the species that live on the land. Everyone is invited to help!

To teach you the skills needed for the BioBlitz, we will hold two Discovery Days at the property in May and June. The May 18 session will focus on plants and pollinators. The June 1 session will cover herps and aquatics. Discovery Day participants can then join SVT for the BioBlitz on June 22, when we'll compilie a complete list of the species we encounter. Registration is required for all sessions (learn more).

We are also working on hiking trails that will provide public access to this reservation while remaining sensitive to the important wildlife habitat on the property. LCT will partner with us on the maintenance of the trails. A grand opening is anticipated for this upcoming summer.

Thank you to everyone who supported this project. We hope you'll take time to explore the land when the trails are complete.

NestWatch: The Birds Need You

Yellow Warbler Nest. Photo by Joan Chasan
Yellow Warbler Nest. Photo by Joan Chasan

SVT is seeking volunteers to participate in the NestWatch project. NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program coordinated by the Cornell lab of Ornithology in order to track the reproductive status and trends of birds.

SVT is providing a training session for anyone who would like to participate in NestWatch: 

Tuesday, March 19
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Wolbach Farm
Wolbach Road, Sudbury

Sign up for the free training session

Top 4 Reasons to be a NestWatch Volunteer:

  1. You’ll contribute extremely valuable information that can help to improve management strategies and stewardship.
  2. Without your help, it would be impossible to gather enough information to accurately monitor nesting birds locally and nationally.
  3. Your observations are added to a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds.
  4. You’ll learn firsthand about birds, creating a lifelong bond with the natural world.

 

Take a Hike with SVT's New Mapping Tool

SVT's Interactive Trail Map

Our Properties page now includes new maps for all 42 of our trails. You can download the maps, print them out, or simply access them from your cellphone while you're on the property.

And to help you figure out which trails are located near you, we've added an interactive map to the page. Each trail is marked by a green "pin." Zoom in and you'll also see the property boundaries and trails. 

By clicking on a pin, you'll learn the name of the property and its address, and you'll find a link to the trail map.

Check out the map tool and our new trail maps.
 

Workshop Explains Landowner Conservation Options

Photo by Bill Shelley

Have you thought about conserving your land but don't know where to begin?

SVT and four local conservation trusts invite you to join us for a complimentary workshop to hear one couple’s conservation story and learn from experts about how to plan for the future of your property. Landowners, an attorney, an appraiser, and SVT's Christa Collins will make presentations and answer questions (see complete list below).

Tuesday, February 5
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Sargent Memorial Library, 427 Massachusetts Avenue, Boxborough, MA

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Ashley Davies so we can get an accurate head count. [email protected]; 978-443-5588, x121.

Presenters

  • John and Molly Beard, Landowners. John and Molly placed a conservation restriction on their land in Wayland through a bargain sale. John and Molly will provide insight as to the challenges and rewards of conserving your land.
  • Jonathan Avery, Appraiser and Founder, Avery and Associates. Jon will discuss the role of an appraisal when conserving your land and how to obtain the best appraisal for your situation.
  • Richard J. Lane II, Esq., Attorney, Comins & Newbury, LLP.  Richard will discuss the legal process involved in conserving your land, including tax benefits and other important considerations.
  • Christa Collins, Director of Land Protection, SVT. Christa will give an overview of conservation options to help you evaluate which option will best suit your situation.

Hosted By

SVT Acquires CR on Pickman Meadow

Earlier this month, SVT completed a conservation restriction (CR) on Pickman Meadow, a small but important parcel adjacent to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The Town of Bedford acquired the parcel in 2006 using Community Preservation Act funds. The use of CPA funds requires that a CR be placed on the property, and SVT was delighted to accept the CR.

Located in the northwestern part of Bedford, Pickman Meadow abuts a large corridor of conservation land along the Concord River.  SVT also holds CRs over the nearby Hughes and Coffin properties, both of which are also owned by the Town.

The Pickman Meadow property, which was formerly used as pasture land, is managed as a meadow, though portions of it are quite wet.  It is designated as priority habitat for a state-listed species, and is identified as BioMap2 Core and Critical Natural Landscape.  

The public may access Pickman Meadow through the adjacent Altmann Conservation Area.

The Coywolf and Me

In Fall 2018, Steve Wightman took this photograph near his home in Bedford. Here is his story about the encounter:

As I got closer and closer to get this shot, I pretty well knew that I’d be detected. After all, coywolves’ combination of hearing, eyesight, and smell are far and away greater than my own. Even with my low crawl and sloth pace through shrubs and with my camouflage skin, those ears homed in on my location as accurately as any radar.

First he studied me. Then he came a little closer, ran a bit, stopped, scent-marked, and then sat calmly as if to say; “This is my field, I’m the king critter here now.”

So, we played a little game; I studied him, he studied me, and we both seemed to agree on a comfortable distance – for now. Neither body telegraphed aggression. Peace was at hand.

Given the wind direction, he now likely knows what I smell like, and that is unique and indelible. Next time, he’ll remember me and likely be very curious about me. He’s trying to decide if I’m a foe while I’m trying to communicate that I am not. Our careful dance shall continue.

It’s not every day that I get to interact with a predator. I recall Kevin Costner playing with wolves in Dances with Wolves. I’m not sure which side had more fun. The key to it happening at all was a strong mutual trust and acceptance. That could never happen without a deep understanding of behaviors and language.

Yes, all wolves have language – most of it is body language, but it also involves scents and sounds. This helps them set social order, identify friend or foe, coordinate hunts, and coordinate adult care for their young. Perhaps that’s why they have survived for more than ten thousand years all around planet earth – and like this encounter, perhaps mankind and nature can work as one where neither is threatened.


About the Author: AMC and Sierra Club member Steve Wightman is a public speaker and a nonfiction producer and publisher of books, blogs, videos, and print articles. He writes and speaks about aviation, personal finance, nature, and America then and now. In 2019, he plans to produce a memoir of his building and flying the world’s fastest single-engine amphibious airplane, a Seawind, and another book - a view of the fate of mankind and our relationship to our only planet including some First Nation prophecies. Learn more at: www.superseawind.com and www.womenwealthwisdom.com.


SVT Note: There is debate on the naming and use of the term "coywolf. " In general, SVT uses the terms "coyote" or "eastern coyote" but has not edited Mr. Wightman's lovely account of his experience with our region's wild "canid."

Learn About Your Conservation Options

Landowners who are interested in learning about their conservation options are invited to attend a series of free workshops hosted by the Bolton Agricultural Commission, the Bolton Conservation Commission, the Bolton Conservation Trust, and SVT. 

Residents of all towns are welcome.

The "Managing and Protecting our Farms, Forests, and Open Spaces" series will consist of four workshops that explain land conservation and management options as well as tax incentives for protecting land:

Details about each workshop are below. Up-to-date information and details are available from the Town of Bolton Conservation Commission or by contacting Sara Amish of SVT at [email protected] or 978-443-5588, ext. 138.


Workshop 1:
Land Protection Success Stories. 
Learn from local landowners about the options for taking care of and protecting land. Guest speakers: Walter Bickford, Berlin Conservation Commission; Christa Collins, Director of Land Protection, SVT

January 26, 2019
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Houghton Building
697 Main Street
Bolton
Pie and coffee will be served
 


Workshop 2
: Chapter 61 Property Tax Reduction Programs.
 Chapter 61 programs lower property taxes on forests, farms, and open spaces as long as they are kept undeveloped and productive. The programs allow towns the right of first refusal if development is proposed for Chapter 61 properties. Guest speakers will include a local woodlot owner and Laura Dooley and Michael Downey, foresters from the Mass. Dept. of Conservation & Recreation

May 4, 2019
10:00 am
Houghton Building
697 Main Street
Bolton
A site walk at Wilder Road woodlot will follow the presentation
 


Workshop 3
: Conservation Restrictions.
Conservation Restrictions (CRs) allow landowners to retain ownership of their land while permanently restricting certain activities. Learn about the many different ways a CR can be used to protect land. Take a walk on one of the many scenic conservation restrictions in Bolton and see for yourself the benefit of land conservation.  Guest speakers will include the Bolton Conservation Trust.

August 4, 2019
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Phillips Conservation Area
Old Sugar Road
Bolton
 


Workshop 4
: Agricultural Preservation Restrictions. 
Agricultural Preservation Restrictions are non-development alternatives for farm owners, geared specifically to keep land in agricultural use. We’ll be visiting two Bolton farms to hear about the benefits of Agricultural Preservation Restrictions, food safety, and sustainability.

October 19, 2019
Time and location to be announced.

 

Early Results from the 2018 Christmas Bird Count

Robin. Photo by Raj Das

On January 2, top-notch birders from the region gathered at SVT's Wolbach Farm to compile the data that the Concord Circle gathered during this year's Christmas Bird Count on December 30. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  1. Volunteer birders saw 88 different species and a whopping total of 52,518 birds. Both numbers were higher than usual, and the group attributed this to two factors: warmer conditions AND better birders participating.
     
  2. One of the key reasons for the high population count was the observation of a HUGE roost of robins with an estimated 18,000 birds. What? Robins in winter? Robins are becoming increasingly common in colder months as they can live off fruiting trees that hold onto fruit (such as crab apples) through the winter. Robins will gather together in a "roost" in the winter, finding strength in numbers to fend off hungry predators.
     
  3. This was a record year for bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks. The return of these magnificent birds of prey is undoubtedly the direct result of environmental protections that came from the banning of DDT in the 1960s, and in the case of the bald eagle, being protected under the Endangered Species Act until 2007.

When the Concord Circle finishes tallying and evaluating its results, they'll be available at www.concordcbc.org.

About the Christmas Bird Count

For more than 100 years, the National Audubon Society has conducted a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) to help researchers understand how the birds of the Americas are faring. Thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and other Western Hemisphere participate in this annual census and count birds over a 24-hour period. 

The CBC is divided into hundreds of “count circles,” each of which selects its own count day between mid-December and early January. Everyone is invited to participate in this citizen science project, but you must join an official "count circle" for your results to be counted. Participants can either join a field party or stay in the warmth of their homes and count visitors to a bird feeder.

SVT participates in the Concord Circle of the CBC. To learn more about the project, read our December 2017 Spotlight article on Norm Levey and the Concord Christmas Bird Count.