Mass Audubon, Partners Join to Protect More Than 800 Acres North of Quabbin Reservoir
Michael P. O'Connor
WARWICK—Working with nonprofit partners, state environmental agencies, private donors, and municipalities, Mass Audubon has helped conserve more than 800 acres in two projects along the Route 2 corridor north of the Quabbin Reservoir.
These land protection achievements and others align with the statewide conservation organization’s Action Agenda, which prioritizes promoting and stewarding resilient landscapes.
In collaboration with the North Quabbin-based Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, far-sighted landowners, civic-minded local boards, the Mass. Division and Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Conservation and Recreation, Mass Audubon is celebrating the completion of the Greater Gales Brook Conservation Project.
The ambitious effort, which includes more than 700 acres on 13 parcels in the towns of Warwick, Orange, and Royalston, further protects the watershed of Gales Brook, a major headwaters stream of the Millers River, which flows 52 miles from the Worcester Highlands to the Connecticut River just below Millers Falls.
The two-year campaign to secure a state Landscape Partnership Grant for the Greater Gales Brook Conservation Project also is emblematic of the increasing importance of collaboration in conserving large areas of open space. As climate change impacts grow, conservation is more urgent and larger conservation efforts are best accomplished collaboratively.
In nearby Wendell, Mass Audubon is marking a separate conservation success, having secured roughly 110 acres, thanks to a generous and climate-conscious family. The parcel closes a gap between the Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary and Wendell State Forest, thus firming up a wildlife corridor from the Quabbin Reservoir north to thousands more acres of protected land.
Thanks to private Swallow Rise, Inc. Mass Audubon will hold a conservation restriction on the newly protected parcel—which ensures the land will be protected—while the family retains ownership.
Kate Buttolph, Mass Audubon Land Protection Specialist for the Berkshires and Connecticut River Valley, credited willing landowners, partners and other supporters for the realization of these projects.
“Completion of the Greater Gales Brook Conservation Project means more than 700 acres have been added to previously conserved land for the benefit of wildlife, to protect an intact landscape that will alleviate the effects of climate change, for scenic vistas, and recreation,” Buttolph said.
“And the Wendell partnership is a perfect example of a collaboration which will benefit the region’s wildlife and the habitats they depend upon,” she noted.
Mount Grace Executive Director Emma Ellsworth said, “We are thrilled to be able to support our neighbors in protecting their land. I know that many of the partners in this project have been hoping to protect these places for years, and we are honored to have been part of making that possible.”
Mount Grace Conservation Director Sarah Wells explained, “Connectivity is important. It means the land is likely to be more resilient in the face of climate change, since species are not cut off in small pockets but can still access different microclimates across their range.”
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 160,000 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 www.massaudubon.org.