Mass Audubon Seeks to Protect 84-Acre Butterworth Property Adjacent to Rutland Brook

Release Date:
December 13, 2016

PETERSHAM—Mass Audubon is working to enhance the ecological vitality of its popular Rutland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Petersham by acquiring 84 acres of high-priority forest and wetlands abutting the wildlife sanctuary. The respected statewide conservation organization needs to raise $270,000 by March 2017 to secure the land, owned and lovingly protected by the Butterworth family for more than 80 years.

Mass Audubon will also hold a “no development” covenant on another 29 acres that will further reinforce the conservation values of the 1700-acre Rutland Brook sanctuary. More importantly, conserving these lands will help close a vulnerable gap within a larger protected landscape that’s an integral part of the Quabbin Reservoir's eastern watershed.

The state has identified the Butterworth property as “Critical Natural Landscape” and its Division of Conservation Services is committing $85,000 in Conservation Program Grant funding to the land preservation initiative

Harvard Forest and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation are also project partners in acquiring an additional 108 acres adjacent to the Mass Audubon property, thus linking the renowned research forest and the sanctuary and furthering the region’s environmental integrity.

“Good partnerships are crucial to most successful conservation efforts,” noted Petersham environmental standard-bearer Jim Baird. “Working with Harvard Forest and the state Division of Conservation Services, Mass Audubon will be able to further enhance a landscape of wetlands and forests that support clean air and water while providing recreation opportunities that encourage people to connect with nature.”


Mass Audubon protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.

Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at