Mass Audubon Partners with State to Protect 69-Acre Property in Princeton Adjacent to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and Wachusett Mountain State Reservation
Michael P. O'Connor
PRINCETON, MA. — A collaboration between Mass Audubon and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has protected a 69-acre parcel of land in Princeton that could have been subdivided for residential development.
The statewide conservation organization and DCR worked cooperatively to protect the property, with Mass Audubon acquiring an ownership interest, while DCR acquired a perpetual conservation restriction, a shared approach to the protection of the property. Mass Audubon’s purchase was made possible by support from MathWorks and from private individuals, including many from the surrounding neighborhood.
Former owner Janet MacDonald was credited for her willingness to work cooperatively with Mass Audubon and DCR in a successful effort to see her beloved family property protected.
The parcel, located between Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, features an array of habitats and wildlife. Extensive wetlands and woodlands support multiple species of plants, and reveal evidence of mammals including bobcat, deer, coyote, mink, and an active beaver colony.
The land will now be known as Porcupine Woods—a nod to a surprise meeting between a certain sharp-quilled rodent and a Mass Audubon land conservation staff member visiting the property that startled both.
The protection of Porcupine Woods also helps fill in one of the largest remaining gaps in a central Massachusetts landscape comprised of thousands of acres of land surrounding Wachusett Mountain State Reservation. The Nature Conservancy identifies this area as having high “connectivity and climate flow” which means the interconnected and varied nature of the landscape will help plant and wildlife species migrate through it as climate changes, thus making the protection of these connections even more important.
Senior Director of Land Conservation David Santomenna described the collaboration that resulted in this land protection success as “a great example of the longstanding partnership among Mass Audubon, DCR, and other conservation partners. As we continue to prioritize the protection of climate-resilient lands--for the benefit of nature and people—these partnerships and others will become even more important and valuable.”
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.