Additional Wildlife Sanctuaries in Central Massachusetts

Elm Hill Wildlife Sanctuary
Elm Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuary network in Central Massachusetts include 15 properties. Of these, 10 are ready to be explored with marked trails, maps, and signage, including: 

Broad Meadow Brook, Worcester
Burncoat Pond, Spencer
Cook's Canyon, Barre
Eagle Lake, Holden
Flat Rock, Fitchburg
      Lake Wampanoag, Gardner
Lincoln Woods, Leominster
Pierpont Meadow, Dudley
Rutland Brook, Petersham
Wachusett Meadow, Princeton
 
           

At Broad Meadow Brook and Wachusett Meadow, you will find nature centers with naturalists to help inform your experience. 

The other 4 wildlife sanctuaries (listed below) are conserved lands that provide valuable habitats, are ecologically managed, and regularly monitored but not yet "prepared for the public" to visit. We are working to prepare more of our wildlife sanctuaries for public visitation and we will update these pages as marked trails, parking areas, maps, and signage are provided at these sites. 


Cheshire Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Ashburnham

414 acres

Location

Near Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary in Gardner and abutting Ashburnham State Forest, this wildlife sanctuary is situated on the drainage divide between the Connecticut River basin and the Merrimac River basin.

Conservation Features

A mix of upland forest including Eastern hemlock, maples, and birches, and wetlands that host active beaver colonies. The wildlife sanctuary's varied habitats support many bird species ranging from marsh birds and several duck species to raptors and dozens of songbird species.

Nearby Places to Explore

Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary (Gardner)


Elm Hill, Brookfield and North Brookfield

1,080 acres

Location

Elm Hill Wildlife Sanctuary straddles the town line separating Brookfield and North Brookfield. It is located north of Route 9 between the centers of Brookfield and East Brookfield. 

Conservation Features

The majority of the forest at Elm Hill is transition hardwoods dominated by red oak and including maples and birches. The sanctuary’s landscape consists of a series of hills—a drumlin cluster—that are topped by fields and former orchards; the views from the open hilltops are sweeping.

Elm Hill is protected by an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) held by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Most of the fields are leased to local farmers. Elm Hill supports populations of many wide-ranging animals, including black bear, fisher, and eastern coyote. The sanctuary’s early-successional habitats also support songbird species of conservation concern.

Nearby Places to Explore

Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary (Spencer)


Laurel Woods Wildlife Sanctuary, Holden

15 acres

Location

This small property, consisting of a riparian swamp and adjacent upland forests, is located in Holden. The property has boundary signage and frontage on Broad Street.

Conservation Features

As the name implies, much of Laurel Woods Wildlife Sanctuary contains a dense shrub layer of mountain laurel. The upland forest is a mix of eastern white pine and eastern hemlock along with a variety of hardwood species. The remaining forest is primarily red maple swamp. Due to the density of vegetation and absence of a trail system, it is best to observe this site from along the road edge abutting the property. 

Nearby Places to Explore

Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary (Holden) • Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary (Princeton)


Whetstone Wood, Wendell, Orange, and New Salem

~2,580 acres

Location

Mass Audubon’s largest sanctuary sits at the junction of Wendell, Orange, and New Salem in North Central Massachusetts.

Conservation Features

Much of Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary is typical of forests in Massachusetts that grew following farm abandonment: a mixed forest type that provides habitat for a variety of species, including birds, amphibians, and mammals. Surrounded by significant public and private conservation lands, the sanctuary is a central link in the conserved land network that includes the Quabbin Reservoir and the Wendell State Forest. It provides an important corridor for wildlife to travel safely through this region. This landscape function is one reason that the sanctuary is managed strictly for the protection of wildlife.

Nearby Places to Explore

Rutland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (Petersham)