Littleton Voters Approve Browns' Woods Project
The effort to protect Browns' Woods got a big boost on October 18, when Littleton voters overwhelmingly supported the purchase of the property at a Special Town Meeting. This vote follows an earlier announcement that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded a grant to the town to be used toward the purchase (see below).
SVT is participating in the effort to protect this property and add it to Littleton's local conservation lands. We will raise funds to cover the costs of holding a conservation restriction and to offset expenses for the Town. The Littleton Conservation Trust is helping with outreach and has made a very generous $10,000 contribution to SVT's fundraising campaign.
Littleton Project Receives State MVP Grant
Good news for the Town of Littleton: In September, the town received a $763,050 "MVP" Action Grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The town will use the money to purchase and protect the Browns' Woods property and create a link between other conserved lands in the area.
MVP, or Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness, grants were created by the Baker-Polito administration to encourage Massachusetts cities and towns to become more resilient in the face of climate change. The grants help municipalities identify climate hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change. In September, the state awarded $11.1 million in MVP grants, bringing the total to $44 million since 2017.
The Town of Littleton will use its grant toward the purchase price of the Browns' Woods property, which sits on Tahattawan Road and Harwood Avenue. The conservation of Browns' Woods will protect a local watershed and create a corridor of conservation lands that include Prouty Woods, Long Lake, and the Littleton Town Forest.
SVT supports the conservation of this property because of its many ecological features. Browns' Woods consists of upland hardwood and softwood forests, shrub land, emergent wetlands, and a potential vernal pool. The property and adjacent Long Pond ecosystem supports habitat for beaver, otter, muskrat, bobcat, fox, coyote, groundhog, raccoon, fisher, mink, stoat/ermine, and smaller mammals. Over 125 species of birds have been observed in the area.
The MVP grant covers only part of the purchase price, so during a Special Town Meeting on October 17 (postponed to October 18 due to weather), residents will be asked to approve the use of Community Preservation Funds for the purchase. We encourage our Littleton members to vote yes!
If residents approve the use of the funds, SVT and the Littleton Conservation Trust will set out to raise additional money for the project, and SVT is expected to hold a conservation restriction on the land. Learn more about Browns' Woods.
Thank you to Littleton voters, who overwhelmingly supported the purchase of Browns' Woods at a Special Town Meeting on October 18! We are now one step closer to adding this property to Littleton's conservation lands and creating public trails for passive recreation.
Northern Water Snake in Littleton
April 29, 2020
Christa Collins photographed this northern water snake at Littleton Conservation Trust's Sprong Land.
Grand Opening at Smith
On Sunday, January 12, a day when the weather seemed more appropriate for early June, SVT and our conservation partners held a grand opening trail walk at the Smith Conservation Land on the Littleton-Harvard town line.
SVT's Laura Mattei (Director of Stewardship) and Dan Stimson (Assistant Director of Stewardship) led the walk for the project partners who helped purchase and protect this property. In attendance were representatives of Harvard Conservation Commission, Harvard Conservation Trust, Littleton Conservation Trust, and Littleton Conservation Commission. We were also pleased to welcome Steve Smith of the Smith family, who previously owned the land.
To make it easier for the public to access the trails, we have created a parking area on Whitcomb Avenue in Littleton. With trail loops now open on both sides of the road, Smith Conservation Land boasts expansive views of both Beaver Brook Marsh and Black Pond Ravine.
Trails Now Open at Smith
We've been talking about the Smith Conservation Land for months, and now you can see it for yourself.
SVT has opened the hiking trails on this 60-acre property that spans the Littleton-Harvard town line. We've also added a parking area on Whitcomb Road.
Smith offers hikers expansive views of both Beaver Brook Marsh and Black Pond Ravine. There are trail loops on both sides of the road, and you can extend your walk by continuing onto additional Town of Harvard conservation lands.
Directions and a trail map are available on our Smith Conservation Land page.
SVT and the Town of Harvard share ownership of these stunning properties that provide essential habitat for numerous species of wildlife. With help from private donors, SVT purchased the 48 acres in Littleton, while the Town of Harvard purchased the 12 acres in Harvard. The Littleton Conservation Trust holds a conservation restriction over all 60 acres.
With a new parking area on Whitcomb Avenue in Littleton, and trail loops now open on both sides of the road, Smith Conservation Land boasts expansive views of both Beaver Brook Marsh and Black Pond Ravine.
Learn About Land Ecology from the Expert
Richard T.T. Forman, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and an SVT board member, is widely considered to be the "father" of landscape ecology. On Friday, November 8, Richard will be giving a public presentation on landscape ecology, co-sponsored by the Littleton Conservation Trust and SVT.
In this public education forum, Richard will discuss local conservation topics, including landscape-scale land protection in the region (such as the such as the High Ridge Initiative) and wildlife corridor passageways under barriers such as Route 2.
Landscape Ecology: Towns, Ecology and the Land
November 8, 2019
Littleton High School
56 King Street
The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. (The program will be preceded by LCT’s Annual Business Meeting at 6:30 pm.)
For more information, visit the Littleton Conservation Trust website.
Evaluating Culverts in the High Ridge Region
On October 30, SVT’s Dan Stimson and Matt Morris invited several of our partners in the High Ridge Initiative to attend a training session on culvert assessment. Participants learned how to study culverts and other road-stream crossings to determine whether wildlife can pass through them easily.
One goal of the High Ridge Initiative is to create long corridors of conserved lands where wild animals can search for food and nesting spots. When conserved lands are intersected by roadways, then coyotes, fox, deer, and other animals must cross through traffic as they roam the landscape.
We attended the training to learn how to evaluate existing culverts in the High Ridge area and to consider the use of culverts in creating wildlife corridors on conservation lands.
Culverts can make it easy for cars to cross over a stream, but they often do not provide safe passage to aquatic creatures and other wildlife. Culverts that sit below water level on one side of a road but sit above water level on the other side prevent fish from swimming upstream. Culverts that are only as wide as a stream and do not encompass any of the adjacent stream bank offer no help to small animals that need to cross under a roadway.
The training session was coordinated by the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative. It was led by Jake Lehan, Stream Crossing Assessment Coordinator for Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration.
High Ridge partners who attended were Dan Stimson and Matt Morris (SVT), Marc Sevigny (Harvard Conservation Trust), Lisa St. Amand (Boxborough Conservation Trust), Amy Green (Littleton Conservation Commission), and Don MacIver and Rick Findlay (Littleton Conservation Trust).
High Ridge Initiative Will Protect Clean Water
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 www.svtweb.org/HRI.
Black Bear in Littleton
June 21, 2019
Chuck Faraci used his automatically triggered wildlife camera to photograph this American black bear near SVT's Smith Conservation Land in Littleton.