Mass Audubon Helps Protect Almost 300 Acres in Becket
March 03, 2023
The recent protection of Bedrock Ledge, almost 300 acres in Becket, MA, brings us closer to achieving our goal of Protecting and Stewarding Resilient Landscapes as set out in our Action Agenda. It is a prime example of working with partners to protect the Commonwealth’s most climate resilient and diverse habitats.
About This Land
Located north and slightly east of Mass Audubon’s Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, this carefully stewarded property served as the landowners' home for the past 45 years. When they reached retirement age, they decided to sell the land to help fund the next stage of their lives. They had always intended to permanently protect their land and approached several conservation organizations, including Mass Audubon, to explore their options.
After discussions with the landowners, Mass Audubon staff visited the land. Our Senior Conservation Ecologist noted afterward that “Thanks to the thoughtful management practices of the landowners, it is basically a living exemplar of practices promoted through the Foresters for the Birds program. I expect that during the neo-tropical migratory bird breeding season the site is filled with the songs of many species of conservation concern associated with young-forest habitat.”
In addition to exemplary migratory bird habitat, our team found plenty of evidence of porcupine, moose, and black bear on the property.
The most prominent natural feature, though, is a dramatic north-south ridgeline that rises some 500 feet above the valley floor, the eastern side of which is scattered with several large diameter trees, including black and red oak, sugar maple, red maple, American beech, white pine, and Eastern hemlock.
The classification of the land as highly resilient is due to its connection to other protected land, minimal concentration of invasive plants, and a diversity of habitat types ranging in elevation from low-lying wetlands and streams to high rocky hills.
A Perfect Partnership
Clearly the Bedrock Ledge land was a priority for protection, but after getting an appraisal of the fair market value of the property and negotiating terms with the landowners, Mass Audubon had to figure out where to get the funds to make it happen.
Mass Audubon Land Protection and Science staff studied the area and noted that the property falls within a priority land conservation boundary of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (Conte Refuge). The Conte Refuge is bounded by the 7.2-million-acre Connecticut River watershed and owns and manages approximately 40,000 acres of land in the five-state watershed.
With funding available to protect land, but only one USFWS staff person to find willing landowners and manage projects, it helps the Conte Refuge when organizations like Mass Audubon identify qualifying projects and get them started. Kate Buttolph, Mass Audubon’s Land Protection Specialist, approached USFWS and the Conte Refuge to gauge their interest in Bedrock Ledge and they agreed it would be an excellent addition to the Conte Refuge.
Projects like these ‘conservation assists’ that Mass Audubon completes in partnership with USFWS, as well as our state agency and land trust partners, are necessary if we hope to accelerate the pace of land conservation in the Commonwealth and achieve our ambitious land protection goals.
We are very grateful to the landowners and an anonymous foundation that understands the importance of having staff on the ground to make these projects happen, supporting our efforts to protect land even when we will not be the long-term steward.
If you’d also like to help fund land conservation, please consider donating today.