Actions We Are Taking in Response to COVID-19
Updated May 26, 2021
We’re thrilled to see life getting back to a new normal. To ensure the safety of our staff and visitors, please follow these guidelines when visiting a wildlife sanctuary as of May 29, 2021.
General Visitation & Volunteer Activities
Masks are optional outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries for general visitation and volunteer activities, but masks are still required for all indoor locations (restrooms, exhibit areas, nature centers, etc.).
We recommend having a mask on hand to be prepared.
If you are visiting a sanctuary for a program, please check your confirmation email for program-specific guidelines.
Mass Audubon’s Nature Preschools will continue to require masks for staff and children for the remainder of the school year.
The health and welfare of our campers and staff remains our highest priority. Mass Audubon is committed to the continuation of wearing masks for all staff and campers under all conditions (indoors and outside, regardless of vaccination status), maintaining physical distancing, small group sizes, enhanced sanitizing protocols, and all other recommended health and safety guidelines. Mask breaks will be included throughout the day along with mask-optional games and activities that allow for adequate distancing. Read more >
Updated April 30, 2021
Governor Baker's updated Mask Order went into effect today (April 30), allowing for some outdoor activities without a mask. Masks or face-coverings are still required in indoor public places and outdoors when unable to remain at least 6 feet from people outside of the same household.
We're excited to see things beginning to return to normal. We also want to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors. Here's what you need to know about visiting a wildlife sanctuary or taking a program.
→ On Trails: Masks are only required when interacting with staff or when you cannot keep 6 feet of distance from others (think busy parking lots, trailheads, Nature Play Areas, etc.)
→ During a Program: Masks are still required if participating in any Mass Audubon program.
→ In Exhibit Areas: Masks are still required in the outdoor exhibit areas at Drumlin Farm and Blue Hills Trailside Museum, and in the gallery at the Museum of American Bird Art.
Please remember that many of our buildings and restrooms are still closed. We are working hard to reopen all of our facilities in the near future. To see what is open now, please visit massaudubon.org/trails.
Updated July 7, 2020
We're excited to share that the trails at all of our wildlife sanctuaries are open! See a list of trails to find one near you.
Ticketed Access at Select Sanctuaries
At the following sanctuaries, you must reserve a time to visit in advance through our online ticketing system:
- Blue Hills Trailside Museum (weekends only)
- Drumlin Farm (weekends only)
- Ipswich River
Updated June 22, 2020
Mass Audubon President, David O'Neill, shared this message with staff today.
Today has been an extremely difficult and sad day. Before I even joined Mass Audubon, I knew that the organization had a remarkably dedicated and passionate team that put their heart and soul into protecting the nature of Massachusetts. And after just a few weeks I can see that each one of you leaves an imprint on not only the organization but on the conservation field at large.
As you know, Mass Audubon has faced hardships in the past, but nothing compared to what COVID-19 and the resulting global recession has brought on. Facing a significant drop in revenue from the wonderful programs that could not take place, as well as an associated decrease in new memberships, Mass Audubon has had to make difficult yet necessary decisions to ensure the health and long-term sustainability of the organization and to continue to carry-out our critical conservation work.
These decisions include layoffs, furloughs, reduced hours, and hiring freezes. Approximately 13 percent of full-time employees (34 of 260) have been laid off. Sixty additional staff have also been impacted by lay-offs, extended furloughs, and reduced hours. This does not take into account the hundreds of program staff that Mass Audubon would have employed this summer. Almost every department of the organization was affected, while the bulk of the layoffs have taken place in the sanctuary division where the impacts of COVID-19 has had the most direct impact on programming. These cuts have nothing to do with the quality and capabilities of our team or the importance of the organization’s mission.
This crisis has also forced us to reexamine how the sanctuaries are organized. In an effort to be more efficient and collaborative, we have restructured the sanctuaries into regional hubs. This model represents my desire to leverage the talents, skills, and resources across the organization to address the most challenging conservation issues of our time, while continuing to provide world-class programming in the communities in which our sanctuaries reside. This model will create new opportunities for growth and impact, and bring us even closer to One Mass Audubon.
While I strongly believe that this is the right course for the longevity of the organization, it is heartbreaking, nonetheless. These decisions go deep, and they affect everyone we have lost as well as all of you that remain. It is so important that you take the time you need to process the emotions—sadness, anger, anxiety—you may be feeling. And know that we have done our very best to treat everyone affected with the compassion and care they deserve.
As an optimist, I am also feeling a sense of hope. Our mission is too important and there is much work to be done, the urgency is great, and the promise of the organization seems boundless. And together, I know that we can make an incredible impact and come out of this crisis strong and resilient.
With deep gratitude,
Updated June 11, 2020
We're excited to share that, with the exception of Drumlin Farm, Blue Hills Trailside Museum, and Joppa Flats, the trails at our wildlife sanctuaries are open. For Broadmoor and Ipswich River, you will need to reserve a time to visit online and in advance. See a list of trails and reserve a spot for Ipswich River and Broadmoor.
Updated June 10, 2020
The re-opening plan for Massachusetts provides a cautious approach for the months ahead, especially regarding summer camps and other essential child care services. After extensive discussion and site-specific scenario planning, each of our camps has determined whether or not they will be running camp programs this summer. Please see below for a list of our camps and their current opening/closing status and check the individual camp's webpage for further details.
Camps that are running will be contacting registered camp families with revised opening date and safety procedures. If your child is currently registered for one of our camps and you have any questions or concerns, please contact your camp's director.
Updated May 11, 2020
After careful analysis and discussions with local officials, we have determined that we can safely open trails at some of our wildlife sanctuaries for local visitation. These sanctuaries were selected based on a variety of conditions including being able to manage capacity for expected level of use (both on the trails and in the parking areas) as well as having support from the communities where they are located.
We need your help to make sure they can stay open!
Please review the guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Updated May 1, 2020
As we enter a new month in this new reality, we can still find inspiration in the wonders that nature brings. Baby birds are hatching, wildflowers are bringing color to the landscape, and Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers provide an evening chorus.
At Mass Audubon, our work continues to be as important and as relevant as ever. There is so much being done now, and even more to look forward too. Highlights include:
- Educators creating new and innovative online learning tools and connecting with teachers, parents, and adult learners. For example, thousands of families across the state took part on our first Virtual April Vacation Week and many programs are now offered online.
- Sanctuary and science staff maintaining our beautiful properties, restoring habitats, and caring for crops and program animals.
- Bird Conservation launching several new citizen science projects, and the Coastal Waterbird Program continuing its critical work protecting endangered birds along miles of Massachusetts coastline.
- Climate Team participating in virtual Earth Day rallies and youth climate strikes, encouraging our members to take collective climate action via Project Drawdown, and answering questions via Instagram on different climate-related questions.
- Supporters and staff joining together for Bird-at-home-a-thon, a new twist on our annual birding competition and fundraiser.
- And a team developing plans to reopen our sanctuaries in a way that is safe for visitors, staff, and the surrounding communities.
Unknowns still exist and we continue to deal with the impacts of the global pandemic. Like all nonprofits, Mass Audubon is struggling with serious financial setbacks as well as the disappointment of program cancellation and sanctuary closures.
We will take on each new challenge that comes our way with the ultimate goal of protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. And your support today will help us ensure a stronger tomorrow.
Updated April 14, 2020
Mass Audubon, like every public and private institution in Massachusetts and across the country, is confronting enormous challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-March, our offices and wildlife sanctuaries have been closed and all programs cancelled for the safety of staff and visitors. These actions, while necessary, have led to a substantial loss of income.
Despite implementing many cost-saving initiatives, we have come to the distressing realization that further measures must be taken including furloughing a number of employees and reducing the salaries of remaining staff based on salary levels. Read more >
Updated April 8, 2020
Since we closed our trails to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we have heard from many of you.
We have received words of support from those who shared our concern over the sizable crowds at our most-visited sites. We also heard from disappointed visitors and members that we were not providing access to nature during this challenging time.
We want nothing more than to let the power of nature heal all of us after the worst of this health crisis has passed.
We are continually assessing the latest recommendations from a variety of sources, including the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Both currently emphasize the importance of stopping the spread of COVID-19 by staying home as much as possible. This is especially true right now as cases in Massachusetts continue to rise and we have yet to flatten the curve.
At the same time, we’re actively working on plans to allow limited use of our trails once we feel the conditions are appropriate. This will likely take place in a phased approach, beginning with wildlife sanctuaries that are ready to support visitation in a safe manner for all and we have confirmed that our host communities are comfortable with us doing so.
Prior to closing the trails, many of our wildlife sanctuaries experienced huge surges in visitors. The parking lots were overflowing as were favorite trail heads and gathering points. Staff at the sanctuaries reported that social distancing was challenging on many narrow trails and boardwalks; they felt their own safety was in jeopardy while they worked on essential tasks.
Even for our less-visited properties, with no staff on site, it was impossible to monitor responsibly and that could put an unnecessary burden on our neighbors and the communities in which our properties are located.
As soon as we have an update, we will share it. Just like you, we can’t wait to go back to walking the trails. Until then, we hope you stay healthy and find joy in nature wherever you are.
Updated March 26, 2020
Please note: We have made the hard decision to cancel all programs through April 30, 2020. If you are registered for a program that was scheduled during this time, you will be receiving an email from us. We look forward to resuming programs as soon as it is safe to do so.
Updated March 24, 2020
We understand that our decision to temporarily close our trails is disappointing to our members and supporters like you. And it is not a decision we took lightly. When COVID-19 first began spreading in Massachusetts, our wildlife sanctuaries offered a place for people to escape. We closed our buildings but invited visitors to walk the trails while following social distancing guidelines. And many, many people took us up on that offer. In fact, our parking lots at many wildlife sanctuaries were overflowing beyond capacity. Increased visitors walking along often narrow trails and boardwalks was making social distancing difficult. Increased visitation was also putting our property staff and fellow visitors at risk. We want nothing more than to reopen our trails. And the moment we feel it is safe to do so we will.
We truly believe that this temporary closing will help slow the spread of COVID-19. We hope you can understand our decision.
Updated March 23, 2020
It brings us great sadness to inform you that, to support the stay-at-home advisory given by Governor Baker, we will be closing all of Mass Audubon's wildlife sanctuaries and trails to any visitation as of noon on Tuesday, March 24, until further notice.
We know how important it is to get out in nature, and there is nothing we like better than seeing people enjoying our trails.
But the health and safety of the residents of Massachusetts and beyond must take priority. Our hope is that these extreme measures will help flatten the curve, so we can soon go back to business as usual. And with the support of people like you, we will come back even stronger.
While you can't visit our sanctuaries in person for the time being, you can engage with us online. In fact, we are hard at work creating wonderful experiences that you can watch on Facebook or via our website.
We hope that you can still find solace and comfort in nature, just a little closer to home. And be on the lookout for signs of spring—including the calls of Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs, salamanders on the move, emerging Skunk Cabbage, and the return of Eastern Phoebes and other migratory birds.
Mass Audubon President
Updated on March 19, 2020
A Note for Sanctuary Visitors
We have been delighted to see so many people getting outdoors and visiting our trails. To keep our trails open while our sanctuaries are closed and staff are working from home, we ask the following:
- Keep a distance of six feet or more from other individuals even while outside.
- Do not meet as groups at the sanctuary.
- Do not play in the Nature Play Areas.
- Be aware that there are no open restrooms. This is for the safety of all visitors.
- Carry out all trash
- Remain on the trails at all times to protect plants, animals, and yourself
- Leave dogs and pets at home; service animals welcome
- Refrain from bike riding or operating motorized vehicles
- Refrain from launching, operating, or retrieving drones or other remote-controlled aerial vehicles
- Refrain from fishing, hunting, or trapping
- Do not smoke
Thank you for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help us maintain our trails for all to enjoy.
Updated on March 13, 2020
Mass Audubon is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation. The safety of our visitors, members, staff, and volunteers is our top priority.
We have made the difficult decision to close our Headquarters, Nature Centers, Museums, and Shops, as well as cancel all programs, beginning 5 pm on Friday, March 13, through March 31, 2020. We are doing this as a proactive effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 for the health and well-being of our community. We will continue to assess the situation as it evolves.
Mass Audubon will issue full refunds for any program or events we cancel. If you don't feel comfortable attending a scheduled program prior to 5 pm on Friday due to COVID-19 concerns, we will also issue a full refund. If you are registered for a program through the end of March, you will receive an email from us.
As of this time, we welcome you to visit the trails at many of our wildlife sanctuaries. We know how critical access to nature is during this stressful time and want to ensure people have the opportunity to get outdoors. We do ask that if you visit, you practice social distancing.
Trails are open at all of our wildlife sanctuaries during regular hours EXCEPT:
- Drumlin Farm
- Blue Hills Trailside Museum
- Wellfleet Bay's Goose Pond Trail, Try Island Trail, and Boardwalk to Beach (these trails are under construction)
It is important to note that there will be no bathrooms open at any wildlife sanctuary.
Our thoughts remain with all those affected by COVID-19. We hope you find solace in the outdoors during this time of uncertainty.
Thank you and stay well.
Mass Audubon President
Updated on March 12, 2020
Mass Audubon is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation. The safety of our visitors, members, staff, and volunteers is our top priority.
As of this time, our wildlife sanctuaries are open for visitation. We know how critical access to nature is at this moment and want to ensure people have the opportunity to get outdoors.
We are carefully evaluating each program and special event based on the most recent guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and municipal Boards of Health. If you have any questions about specific events or programs, please contact your local sanctuary.
In the meantime, Mass Audubon has implemented the following procedures and protocols:
- We will issue full refunds for any program or event we cancel. If you don't feel comfortable attending a program due to COVID-19 concerns, we will also issue a full refund.
- All staff members have received recommendations on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infection through proper handwashing, avoiding hand shaking, and staying home when sick.
- Staff are communicating these practices to program participants; we are asking program participants to stay home if they are sick or may have been exposed.
- Our nature centers and staff buildings are receiving regular cleanings with attention to frequently touched surfaces.
We continue to evaluate all measures in response to available information from Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are ready to revise our response and protocols as needed.
In addition, our thoughts are with all those affected by COVID-19. We hope you find solace in the outdoors during this time of uncertainty.
Mass Audubon President