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 is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at