Stewardship Policies

For information about use regulations at specific properties, please see our Regulations page.

Camping Policy (adopted by the Board of Directors 5/19/04)

Camping is not allowed on SVT properties due to intense impacts of soil compaction, loss of woody debris, potential litter, waste, potential disruption of neighbors, and unsightliness. The Director of Stewardship has discretionary authority to grant special use permits on a case-by-case basis, as deemed appropriate.

Deer Management Policy (Adopted by the Board of Directors 4/9/14)

Wildlife habitat in SVT’s service area is threatened by growing deer populations.  Abundant scientific evidence demonstrates that high deer densities severely degrade habitat values on conservation lands.   Over-browsing by deer stunts forest regeneration, reduces plant diversity, endangers some native plant species, tends to increase abundance of invasive plants, eliminates ground and shrub bird nesting habitat, and can have long-term consequences on soil and vegetation.    Additionally, high deer densities cause impacts to human health due to increased deer-car collisions and increased incidents of tick-borne diseases.  This policy also recognizes that hunting, fishing and trapping are traditional nature-based activities that often promote a greater appreciation of nature and wildlife as well as provide an additional wildlife management tool.

SVT’s stewardship program proposes to implement hunting selectively on our reservations in keeping with our mission to protect wildlife habitat for present and future generations.  SVT’s stewardship program will work with our partners to educate our members and the general public about the safety and value of these activities.  SVT will also work with our partners to advocate for hunting regulations that promote human safety and increase success in reducing deer populations and impacts on habitat.

See a PDF of our complete Deer-Management Policy

Dog Walking Policy (adopted by the Board of Directors 4/4/07)

Dog Walking is allowed on SVT properties as long as sensitive resource areas and positive visitor experience are preserved. Dog walkers may not walk more than three dogs at a time.
SVT will post dog etiquette guidelines at all trail entrance kiosks and visitors are expected to adhere to them.  SVT will post educational information to support the dog walking policy wherever the etiquette guidelines are posted.  SVT will also seek other opportunities to educate the public about the importance of adhering to dog walking etiquette such as through SVT’s website.
SVT staff and volunteers will monitor use for impact indicators. After prior notice to the Board, staff has the discretion to set further restrictions on dog walking for reasons of ecological impact (such as within sensitive bird nesting area or rare plant habitat) or visitor enjoyment (such as if there is a high number of user conflicts). These additional restrictions may take the form of requiring dogs to be on leash, closing certain trails to dog walkers, or closing entire properties, or portions thereof. 

Horseback Riding (adopted by Board of Directors 5/19/04)

Horseback riding is allowed on SVT properties only as designated by the Executive Director.  The current level of use is light to moderate; therefore, the impacts to the natural resources and other visitor uses are low and acceptable.
SVT does not maintain trails specifically for horseback riding, such as cutting vegetation back at a greater height or installing special bridges for horse-crossings. However, SVT would support such maintenance by responsible users and with prior approval by SVT.
SVT staff and volunteers will monitor use for impact indicators. Staff has the discretion to post trail closure signs for ecological deterioration (disruption of wildlife, erosion, wetland disturbance, introduction of exotic plants, etc.), safety concerns (suitability of terrain, low branches, conflicting uses) and visitor enjoyment (walkability of trails, horse manure, frequency of negative encounters). The staff also reserves the right to close properties if the impacts of horseback riding negatively affect the natural resources and other visitor uses throughout the property.

SVT Fishing Policy (adopted by Board of Directors 6/1/05)

Fishing is allowed on SVT properties according to state laws and regulations.
SVT staff and volunteers will monitor use for impact indicators – ecological, safety and visitor use - and will periodically confer with Mass Fish & Wildlife staff about any new information on impacts to aquatic species of concern. Staff has the discretion to close properties or certain water ways on SVT property to fishing if the activity is posing a threat to the general well-being of the property, including its biodiversity and ecological health.

SVT Mountain Biking Policy (adopted by Board of Directors 2/2/05)

Mountain biking is not allowed except at the discretion of the Executive Director. Currently, SVT allows mountain biking on the following two reservations, primarily because they are reservations that are embedded within a larger conservation area where mountain biking is allowed.  It is our best interests to allow and control the mountain biking with the adjacent managers.
  • Baiting Brook/Welch, Framingham (Callahan State Park) - Callahan allows mountain biking. SVT allows mountain bikers to pass through our property on the Pipe  Line and Rocky Road trails to access both units of Callahan.
  • Ralph Hill Conservation Area, Billerica (Town conservation land) - We have made an agreement with the Town of Billerica to allow bicycles on the green trail and we will evaluate annually to see if this is causing problems.